petite anglaise

March 25, 2009

malentendus

Filed under: Tadpole rearing, Tadpole says — bipolarinparis @ 1:09 pm

I introduced the idea of a new addition to our family several months ago, long before I began taking folic acid or dispensed with taking ‘precautions’. Tadpole was predictably delighted at the prospect of having a little brother or sister to fuss over and urged me to ‘put a baby in my tummy’ as soon as possible.

‘Will Daddy come to live with us when we have a new baby?’ she asks me, between spoonfuls of cereal, a few days after our first discussion. ‘So he can help us to look after it?’

‘Um, no… I shouldn’t think so,’ I reply with a frown. I’m about to ask her why she would think such a thing, when realisation suddenly dawns. In Tadpole-logic, I realise, Mr Frog is the only possible daddy and therefore it stands to reason that he will father all my children. Hence the assumption that he will be sharing the responsibility for caring for the baby, which he can’t very well do if he is living 400m down the road.

I take a sip of coffee before embarking on my explanation. Best to test my theory first, I decide. So I begin with a tentative question. ‘When I have a baby,’ I begin, ‘who do you think the baby’s daddy will be?’

‘Daddy,’ Tadpole replies, her scornful tone making it abundantly clear that she considers my question a foolish one. I sigh and glance towards the bedroom, wondering whether The Boy can hear us. He could be awake – after all, he just snoozed the alarm not twice, but three times – but there is no way of knowing for sure, as he seems to be capable of banging his fist on the alarm clock in his sleep.

‘Honey,’ I say gently. ‘When Daddy and I made you, we were living in the same house. Now I’m living with Manuel. I’m married to Manuel. So this time it’s going to be different. The baby’s daddy won’t be your daddy. It will be Manuel.’

‘Oh,’ Tadpole replies. She falls silent, processing this new information, then gives me a smile and a nod, and spoons more cereal into her mouth.

‘So the baby will call Manuel ‘Daddy’, I continue, thinking it advisable to press the point home while I have Tadpole’s undivided attention. ‘But you’ll still call him Manuel. And you’ll call your daddy ‘Daddy’. Tadpole nods again, her mouth full.

A few weeks later, when the future baby has become less an abstract concept than a grape-sized mini-foetus swimming in nausea-inducing circles, we are discussing the Easter holidays, when Tadpole will stay with Mr Frog’s parents for a week, as per usual.

‘When the baby is born,’ Tadpole says, ‘It will come with me to stay at Mamie and Papy‘s house, won’t it? Because they will be the grandparents of the baby too.’

I smile and shake my head. This is going to be more complicated than I thought.

50 Comments

  1. God Bless your willingness to see this new situation through Tadpole’s eyes. It’s complicated but experience has taught me that children hear “when they are ready to hear” and that is usually when the situation is upon them. Tadpole may not actually get the whole extended family thing until the baby & Easter are here at the same time, but your continued attempts to explain (more than a few times) will make her comprehension less of a surprise when the light bulb finally goes “On”.

    Comment by Nancy L. — March 25, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

  2. Aw. She’s a clever little thing though. She’ll get it before the baby arrives, and if she hasn’t, she’s persistent enought to keep asking questions until she understands! At the very least, she is likely to say some very funny (and blogworthy!) comments during the next few months!

    Comment by L.C.T. — March 25, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

  3. I think you’re up to handling the complications and I wish you the fortitude you’ll need!

    Try to avoid inciting Tadpole to state a preference for a little brother or little sister… you’ll have a fifty percent chance of disappointing her!

    Comment by Macthomson — March 25, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

  4. I guess a drawing of an extended family tree might be a bit much for Tadpole at this stage ;-)

    Comment by Sarah — March 25, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

  5. Oohh tricky. Don’t envy you. No doubt that you’ll find a way to help her understand. She is such a bright wee thing from what you write and you seem all to be a close and supportive family.

    Good luck! Jx

    Comment by juliawolfie — March 25, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

  6. Aw, she’ll figure it out. My kids have drawn a 3-level family tree each, as a school project in junior kindergarten, complete with pictures – courtesy of their delighted dad. Ours is the easy, traditional thing, but I guess kids from familles recomposées can handle it without too much trouble.

    Comment by ontario frog — March 25, 2009 @ 4:03 pm

  7. It’s so exciting, though! And it seems the relationship with Mr. Frog has been well-handled and then with Manuel so Tadpole feels free to ask questions and you (and I guess Mr. Frog) feel free to answer them.
    I see the complications that aren’t immediately obvious when you first launch into a situation though! Good luck!

    Comment by Kilburina — March 25, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  8. Oh Dear:) Kids ask questions you’d never expect, don’t they?:)

    I must say I find that you’re handling Tadpole’s questions very well:)

    She’s very bright, this child, very bright:)

    It’ll be interesting to see if Tadpole number 2 is as inquisitive as his or her big sister:)

    Comment by Duchesse — March 25, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

  9. Tadpole is soooo cute! You have to hand it to children’s logic, if only things were that straightforward! :)
    Fact is, I’m sure Mr. Frog/ her paternal grandparents would be only too pleased to have Tadpole’s little brother or sister to stay along with her occasionally when he/she is a bit older. Things don’t have to be complicated if there is good will on all sides, which seems to be the case with Mr. Frog and your extended family, or at least as you have portrayed it on the blog!
    A new baby is something so hugely positive, what an excellent prospect for the end of the year!!

    Comment by happyforyou — March 25, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

  10. By the way, does Tadpole actually call Mr. Frog “Daddy” (in English, as opposed to a French equivalent) or is that just in conversation with you?

    Comment by happyforyou — March 25, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

  11. Well, hooray for Tadpole’s optimism, and don’t let that drift away.

    As someone who lives with a similar (although somewhat different) kind of family unorthodoxy, I wouldn’t in the least rule out the likely future affections of your old in-laws for your newborn. People can surprise you with their unexpectedly warm generosity.

    There’s no significant downside that I can think of to having three families to relate to. Just makes Christmas a little (a lot) more complicated than it might be. But hey — you can live with that.

    Good on yer, girl. Keep blooming!

    Comment by Roads — March 25, 2009 @ 6:30 pm

  12. @10 – she refers to him as papa when she’s speaking French and daddy when speaking English. But presumably always as papa when actually talking to him, as they speak only French together…

    Comment by petite — March 25, 2009 @ 6:33 pm

  13. Bless your little Tadpole that is terribly sweet and shows a sweet generous nature n’est pas :)

    Comment by La Chat Noir — March 25, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

  14. she’s so sweet. patchwork families require some imaginative explanations. (although i believe for a true patchwork family manuel would have had to bring a child into the family as well…?)

    Comment by beyond — March 25, 2009 @ 8:42 pm

  15. Oh, she will be constantly surprising you as she grows and learns. That is interesting.

    Comment by JoeInVegas — March 25, 2009 @ 9:18 pm

  16. Similar circumstances times two & I can safely say that they take it in their stride, provided they are given ample reassurance that they will always be the first (well, of course!) in your heart. Be prepared for some rock&roll but on an ‘ordinary weekday’ basis, not for holidays (well, thank God, you can at least pack one off to his father! Something you cannot very well do with baby n°2 as my very dry husband n°2 once remarked… )

    Comment by silent follower — March 25, 2009 @ 9:21 pm

  17. What a charming post. I’ve no doubt as the baby becomes part of Tadpole’s own little world, it will all become understood.
    Hope you are feeling well,
    Tess

    Comment by Tess — March 25, 2009 @ 10:19 pm

  18. We’ve got the modern day fragmented family, and it sort of blends. There isn’t a defined separation of one daddy or mummy to another, and the kids call all the grandparents “Nan” & “Pop”. Kids sort out their relationships to everyone as time goes on.

    From what you’ve said of Mr Frog, I couldn’t image that he won’t allow Tadpole’s sibbling to be a part of her life when he’s with her sometimes. when the degree of separation is too severe it’s confusing, and encourages the little darlings to play the grown ups off against each other

    Have fun, I’m sure we’ll get some funny Tadpole quotes from this!

    Comment by QldDeb — March 25, 2009 @ 11:57 pm

  19. Glad Boy is no more and has grown up into a real MAN-uel.

    Well, until you become a Mum again, so enjoy.

    Maybe it’s just me… Yeah, probably!

    But suddenly, your blog is come alive again, and wonderful.

    Comment by andrew — March 26, 2009 @ 2:03 am

  20. My son was 10 when I had my daughter (different fathers) and he was quite good at working the complexities out, by my daughter (now 5) was the one that needed the lesson in step families. She kept on isisting on going with her brother to his daddy’s house to visit the ‘other’ grandparents, and kept on asking if my son’s daddy was her daddy as well as her own.

    Comment by anna — March 26, 2009 @ 4:50 am

  21. Ohhhh. You’re good. Patient, measured response. I think I would just have blurted something out, stuttered and ended up looking like the child myself!

    Comment by ellie — March 26, 2009 @ 7:36 am

  22. Out of the mouths of babes eh! When I was about 7 months pregnant with my daughter, my then 3yr old son came out with ‘Little Sprout is in her cocoon at the moment, but when she’s born she will be like a beautiful butterfly’. He’d listened to me reading ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ and compared the story to my pregnancy. I was stunned. He’s 9yrs old now, and prefers Asterix and the Beano, so what would come out now would be very different perhaps. Enjoy the innocence of Tadpole’s thoughts, they will sometimes astonish you.

    Comment by Michelle Render — March 26, 2009 @ 9:54 am

  23. I wonder… have you thought of a name yet? A blog name I mean. Will it be Tadpole 2, or Little Boy, or Boy’s Girl, or Baby Boy, or BoyBabyGirl (a.k.a. BBG), or…

    Comment by *Martha* — March 26, 2009 @ 12:04 pm

  24. Hi,

    I always get the impression that most children are smart and appreciate being spoken to with that in mind. You sound as though you are working through situations with Tadpole, which she surely must appreciate – if not now then later when she’s older and wiser still ?

    Good luck to you all ! Happy Easter

    Comment by Elise — March 26, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

  25. lovely to have more news, thanks!

    Comment by Tiffany — March 26, 2009 @ 1:19 pm

  26. Great to hear your news.

    Comment by Googlebear — March 27, 2009 @ 9:42 pm

  27. Nice to see the old title bar back!

    Comment by Timide — March 27, 2009 @ 11:12 pm

  28. yep, just moved servers and decided to make the switch…

    Comment by petite — March 27, 2009 @ 11:29 pm

  29. I think that is absolutely precious of Tadpole. You have what is simply a very ‘modern family’ and I reckon that as long as you steer clear of Ulrika Jonsson territory you’ll be fine!

    Comment by MoaningMum — March 28, 2009 @ 12:04 am

  30. Aww, your daughter is so cute, it’s so interesting to hear it from their perspective, isn’t it? To truly put yourself in your daughter’s shoes is so amazing on your part, not many parents truly try to understand their chidren.

    Comment by Margarita — March 28, 2009 @ 2:19 am

  31. Hadn’t noticed that you’d changed the Title Bar. Looks great!

    Comment by Googlebear — March 28, 2009 @ 8:27 am

  32. lovely to hear from you.

    bless tadpole – must be all confusing for her – but she sounds like a bright girl and sure it will be ok. she will adore her little brother or sister.

    Comment by Devinder — March 28, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

  33. lovely post :-)

    Comment by Eric — March 29, 2009 @ 2:51 am

  34. Oh dear, what a conundrum. Well, maybe all this will become helpful when she learns about genetics at school!

    Comment by Jim — March 29, 2009 @ 2:22 pm

  35. Lovely to see the old title bar back.
    Often wondered why your publishers didn’t use it on the book cover. Must confess to liking it much better than all the artwork done for your books so far. It’s much more understated and the font and colour scheme are just perfect…

    Comment by happyforyou — March 29, 2009 @ 4:17 pm

  36. Congratulations:) I haven’t been visiting your blog for a while now. And whoa..I log in and you’re expecting. how delightful. Your tadpole is sooo cute.

    Comment by edina monsoon — March 29, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

  37. I love child logic! :) It’s so fun. Congratulations by the way.

    Comment by Jessica — March 29, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

  38. I have to say I’m a bit late on the uptake here – have just bought your book and was reading it late into the night – I love it! Thought I’d check out your blog this morning and this is what I find – fantastic news. I too am married to a Frenchman and we have a long, long extended family. My two little ones (2 and 4) have an older half sister who is nearly 18. The 4 year old has only recently started understanding why they have different Mummys but she accepts it because to her that’s just the way it is. x

    Comment by Maternal Tales — March 30, 2009 @ 10:49 am

  39. I think that conversation is interesting, while Tadpole is obviously thrilled, certain aspects of the situation may be a little unsettling for her ie having a sibling whose parents are both under the same roof while she has a different father and her own set of grandparents. Children certainly see things in their own way. When I occasionally bring up the possibility of having a new partner one day, having been a single mum for a few years now(well you never know) my daughter immediately reacts with ‘oh no, I don’t want a new daddy, I want to keep my own daddy’. Good luck with navigating some of the more tricky areas, I’m sure the outcome will be very happy for all involved once everything settles into place.

    Comment by Kate — March 30, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

  40. She’ll get it, don’t you worry yourself. So many children have to deal with extended families these days that it is the norm rather than the exception. You never know, maybe the baby one day will go on holiday with her to her grandparents. :)

    Comment by teeweewonders — March 30, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  41. You could consider giving the 2 sets of French grandparents different names.

    Mr Frogs parents stay keep the same name. Mamie-Papie, yours stay as Granny and granddad or whatever and the The Boys parents have new names (Papou and Maminette :) the possibilites are endless) . . . it would keep the 2 children on the same level, and nobody will get confused about which Mamie your talking about.

    Our son has 2 sets of grandparents Granny-Grandad and Mannie-Papou and then there are 3 third pair Mamie et Papie. These aren’t even his grandparents, but those of his cousins, but he calls them Mamie et Papie anyway ! ! It’s really quite cute, to him it’s just their name his cousins call them that so he does too . . .

    Anyway it’s just a though. . . maybe something that helps Tadpole get her head round the idea and a solution to stop the confusion for all concerned.

    Comment by Pauline — March 31, 2009 @ 2:00 pm

  42. Congratulations (couldn’t post on the announcement post). Tadpole’s logic is stunning in obvious ways. How sweet.

    I can’t help but wonder what you’ll be calling the new little one on your blog. That’ll be a tough one.

    Sigh. You’ve made me all nostalgic now that those days are probably behind me. Again, congratulations.

    Comment by Mrs C — March 31, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

  43. Bonjour,
    Now reading your wonderful book on the way home from a long weekend in Paris with le boyfriend. Great to see you have moved on as only up to chapter 6 in your book. Take care and can’t wait to read more xx

    Comment by missy — March 31, 2009 @ 6:43 pm

  44. Wow. Thank you for the post. Congratulations on the growing family and after reading that I know you will have a wonderful and happy family no matter the complications.

    Comment by Divina — March 31, 2009 @ 9:25 pm

  45. Petite,
    Just caught up on your past two and bit years and got to the best part of all, your new chapter. Many congratulations on finally getting your wedding and tadpole no.2, what a wonderful peak in the story thus far! Can’t wait to see the photos of the growing tummy along the way. Maybe Mr Frog should move in and help out in lieu of him working so much the first time round?!!
    Jo in OZ

    Comment by Josie — April 1, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  46. What exciting news!

    I think the age gap between Big Tadpole and Little Tadpole will be more or less the same as my two (six years). It’s working well for us. I hope the nausea subsides soon (I think you’re 10 weeks now? Did it stop at 12 weeks with Big Tadpole?); that was definitely the worst bit for me.

    Comment by Clare — April 1, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

  47. So Tadpole has… two pairs of grandparents on her mother’s side and two pairs of “paternal” grandparents (if we consider your current in-laws)… more or less. That’s a lot of people to sort out and she seems to be doing lovely.

    Comment by alcessa — April 1, 2009 @ 12:59 pm

  48. Congratulations on your pregnancy!!!! So exciting!! Tadpole is adorable, I’m sure she’ll get the concept soon!! :-)

    xoxo

    http://www.chicsetera.com

    Comment by A chicette in Paris — April 1, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

  49. Congratulations! I’m a long-time reader and now it turns out I’m about 4 weeks behind you. This is my first time ’round and as horrible as this morning sickness thing is, it must all be worth it since you’re doing it a second time. :) (Well, Tadpole has always sounded well worth it!)

    Comment by Nikki — April 2, 2009 @ 4:17 am

  50. Hi Petite
    I have just picked up your book (from the local supermaket). The Eiffel Tower did it for me! I’m only on chapter 6, but OMG I’ve already cried twice (saddo I know) I’m a Parissienne lost in London (well almost: the suburbs!) and I have been stuck here for the last 15 years. I am so touched by your description of my childhood playground (Les Buttes Chaumont and Paris, bien sur!). I was brought up in Paris and for some strange reasons ended up in London (long story, maybe another time?). I also love how you describe your relationship with Mr Frog and Tadpole. I didn’t go for Mr Rozbeef (can’t remenber how to spell it, sorry!) but for Mr Chicken Tikka… apparently a favorite in England.
    I’m looking forward to reading more of your book and I’m so pleased that your blog is still live. (it’s my first time blogging)
    Good luck with the pregnancy!
    La Franglaise

    Comment by La Franglaise — April 2, 2009 @ 11:33 am


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