petite anglaise

November 15, 2007


Filed under: misc, Tadpole rearing, Tadpole says — petiteanglaiseparis @ 1:45 pm

To say that Tadpole rarely shares insights about her secret life in the moyenne section of our local maternelle would be something of an understatement. Invariably, on the way home from school, we have a conversation which goes something like this.

Me: “So, what did you do today?”

Tadpole: “Just some things.”

Me: “What did you have for lunch?”

Tadpole: “I can’t remember. But you can look on the computer, mummy, can’t you…?”

Which is why I was rather taken by surprise when she randomly launched into a playground anecdote over dinner yesterday evening. An anecdote which concerned a boy who was in her class last year. I am still at a loss to understand what caused the memory to surface just then.

“Mummy?” says Tadpole between mouthfuls of canneloni (from which I have scraped all trace of bechamel sauce, at her behest). “When I was three years old and I was in the other class at school…” – she holds up three fingers in case I need help understanding the concept – “…one day I did go in the playground with Youssouf while the other children were doing music.”

“Mmhm?” I repy, stabbing several green beans onto her fork, because for some reason, even though Tadpole is perfectly capable of feeding herself, she generally loses the will to eat after approximately five mouthfuls in the evenings and I have to step unwillingly into the breach.

“And I did ask Youssouf ‘tu es mon amoureux?‘ and he said ‘oui‘ and we did hold hands for a little while,” Tadpole continues.

I like the word ‘amoureux‘. The Boy often uses it when introducing me to a friend of his for the first time. I like to think of it as a combination of ‘beloved’ and ‘lover’ – literally it means ‘the person I’m in love with’. It’s so much nicer than ‘ma copine‘ (too impersonal, it could designate any female friend) or ‘ma petite copine‘ (even if I am used to answering to the name ‘petite‘). What the term ‘amoureux‘ implies to a four-year-old though, I’m far from sure.

“Is Youssouf still your amoureux now?” I enquire, setting down the fork for a moment.

“No. He did have the nez coulé and it wasn’t very nice,” Tadpole explains with a grimace. I freeze. Just how close did my daughter get to that runny nose of his?

“And, um, do you have an amoureux now?”

“I play with Dinah now,” Tadpole replies. “And Youssouf, he plays with Hicham.” This, I surmise, could mean one of two things. That their short-lived relationship was so traumatic that it drove both of them into the arms of a same-sex partner, or that amoureux, to Tadpole, simply means ‘best friend’.

“So, who is mummy’s amoureux?” I ask, keen to test my theory immediately.

“You have two,” says Tadpole, with a triumphant smile that means she is convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt she knows the correct answer. “Daddy… And Meg.”

I heave a sigh of relief.

November 6, 2007

princess shoes

Filed under: on the road, Tadpole rearing, Tadpole says — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:58 pm

It is a week in which I’ve already made two Paris-London-Paris trips on the Eurostar, complete with identical on-board meals of hachis parmentier and a very bland slice of bakewell tart on both Sunday and Wednesday evenings, and adjusted my watch five times (albeit a little slow on the uptake the day that daylight saving time was adopted, having completely forgotten).

On Thursday, Tadpole and I board a flight to Leeds. I pore over the in-flight magazine, wondering what my collection of loose change can buy us for lunch. I would appear to have exactly £7.70. Just enough to procure one “junior snack pack” and a still mineral water (for her) plus one packet of mini-cheddars and a coffee/kitkat combo (for me). Not the most nutritious meal, with not a hint of the requisite five servings of fruit or vegetables, but we’ve had worse. I wedge the magazine into the seat pocket in front of me and settle back in my seat, closing my eyes for a moment, waiting for the attendants to reach us.

Tadpole is studying the laminated safety card with fierce intent.


“Mhm?” I mumble, without opening my eyes.

“Why does a cross sometimes mean a kiss but sometimes it means ‘no, you CAN’T do THAT’? Those two things are not the same at ALL, are they?”

“I suppose you’re right,” I say, opening my eyes and leaning forwards to rummage in my handbag for moleskine and a pencil, nostils flaring. I smell a blog post in the making: Tadpole appears to be on fine form today. “So… what does it say that we’re not allowed to do, on the card?”

“It says no cigarette,” says Tadpole primly. “But that’s alright because me and you, we don’t fume any cigarette, do we?” I shake my head. “And it says no telephone…” she pauses and looks at me accusingly. “Why did you bring your telephone, mummy? It’s not allowed, it says it here!”

“Ah, I’m allowed to bring it, you see, but I am supposed to switch it off…” I fumble in my handbag once more and re-read my last message from the Boy, for the nth time, before complying.

“Why are those people going on a toboggan?” Tadpole wonders aloud, pointing at the picture of a landing at sea – I love the fact that there is a proper French word for this: “amerissage” which somehow makes it sound like something utterly banal and routine, and not at all like an exceptional emergency occurrence – in which several people are calmly gliding down an inflatable slide, minus their baggage and shoes. I decide not to evoke the possibility of planes falling unexpectedly out of the sky and mumble something implausible about people using slides when there aren’t any spare sets of stairs handy at the airport, instead. No sense in worrying her. Flying has hitherto been as natural to Tadpole as taking a taxi, and I wouldn’t want to change that. Pointing at the next picture, I lure her eyes away before she has time to register that the runway is blue and slightly squiggly.

“What do you think this one means?” I say, tapping my finger against a picture of an unfeasibly high stilletto shoe with a bold black cross through it.

“No princess shoes,” Tadpole replies with unshakable certainty.

Chortling, I reach for my pencil.

September 24, 2007


Filed under: Tadpole rearing, Tadpole says — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:31 am

from Mr Frog
to    Petite Anglaise
date 19 Sep 2007 21:16

subject Quote of the Day

“Aujourd’hui dans la cour de récréation Matthias il nous a montré son zizi…. C’était très rigolo.”


I chuckle aloud, paste the quote into my ongoing MSN chat with the Boy (his response: “let’s hope Matthias is a four-year-old”), then file it in my brain under “things I musn’t forget to use one day in a blog post”.

Several days later, Tadpole and I are in the unisex, open plan changing rooms at the kids’ swimming pool we visit on Sunday mornings. When we first began frequenting the pool, I used to manoeuvre myself into my underwear with embarrassed awkwardness, under cover of a huge towel. Then one day I realised that normal rules didn’t apply here. Something about the fact that we are all parents, surrounded by young children, rubbing the sleep from our eyes and wishing that we were at home with a steaming mug of coffee and a newspaper, makes casual nudity even more asexual than a nudist beach in Greece.

Tadpole sits on the bench, swaddled in a hooded towel, wearing an extremely disgruntled pout. Persuading her to leave the pool had not been easy, and involved my resorting to a whole spectrum of parental behaviour – wheedling, promises, threats, pointless lengthy negotiations, raised voices – approaches proscribed one and all by the child rearing manual Mr Frog pointedly lent me the other day. Our altercation culminated in the tenth “I’m not your friend” of the day (it is midday), followed a dose of the silent treatment (a blessing in disguise).

Suddenly Tadpole’s eyes widen at the sight of the small child opposite, and she opens her mouth to speak, her fit of pique instantly forgotten. “Mummy! That girl has got a zizi! Why has that girl got a zizi?”

I sneak a glance at the child in question – male, without a shadow of a doubt – and consider how to respond. Probably best to keep things simple. Conversations about gender reassignment can doubtless wait until she is a little older. “Well,” I say slowly. “We know that only boys have zizi’s, don’t we? So that means it must be a boy, not a girl.”

“But mummy, she had the voice of a girl!” Tadpole protests with a crumpled brow.

“Little boys’ voices are often just the same as little girls’ voices,” I reply. “But if you see a zizi, it’s always a boy. That’s how you can always tell the difference between boys and girls, ladies and men…”

At this, Tadpole gives me a very strange look. In her opinion, I have taken leave of my senses.

“No!” she says emphatically. “My daddy doesn’t, any more. Maybe he did have a zizi when he was a little boy, but then he growed up and it disappeared.”

“I think you might be wrong about that honey,” I reply, the corners of my mouth twitching. “So, when we see daddy later, perhaps you should ask him…”

September 17, 2007


Filed under: Tadpole rearing, Tadpole says — petiteanglaiseparis @ 12:31 pm

Tadpole and I are making our way home from “daddy’s house”. We make excruciatingly slow progress, as she insists on pulling her Miffy wheelie weekend bag along herself rather than letting me carry it. My eyes are riveted on the pavement ahead so that I can give advance warning should we encounter anything unsavoury left behind by a pigeon, dog or human.

Grinding to a halt at a pedestrian crossing, Tadpole suddenly becomes very excited at the sight of a teenage girl across the road.

“Wow! Look mummy! That girl has really red hair! Absolutely exactly the same red colour as the Little Mermaid!”

I take my eyes off the traffic lights for a moment and obediently take a look. The girl in question, striding away on the opposite pavement, has dyed her hair an unnaturally deep red, a cross between the claret colour so often favoured by Parisian café owners when choosing their awnings and my own crimson bedclothes. Uncannily similar to Tadpole’s Little Mermaid doll’s dishevelled mane. A colour which looks better, in my humble opinion, on fabric than on hair.

“Oh look, the green man!” I say, changing the subject and grabbing Tadpole’s free hand.

Later that evening, as I pull a wide-toothed comb through her damp ringlets (amusingly called “anglaises in her father tongue), I make the mistake of doing my thinking aloud. “We really must go to see a hairdresser sometime,” I say. “If we cut your hair just a little bit, then it will grow thicker, and longer.” I’ve been saying this for the past two years, ever since Tadpole’s hair finally deigned to begin growing in earnest, but somehow we’ve never got round to it.

“Mummy?” says Tadpole, turning to face me, her brow furrowed, “when you go to the see the hairdresser, sometimes the hairdresser puts some colour, doesn’t he?”

“Well, yes,” I admit. “I sometimes make it a little bit blonder, because it used to be light like yours, but now it’s darker…” I can almost see the cartoon lightbulb flickering to life above my daughter’s head, and have a sudden inkling of what is coming next.

“So when I go to see the hairdresser, can he make my hair a different colour too? Because I would like to have really really red hair like Ariel’s!”

I pause, wondering how to respond, then a phrase falls from my lips which somehow I never expected to find myself using quite so soon. “Not until you are at least sixteen years old, young lady! Your hair is very pretty just the way it is!”

“But mummy,” protests Tadpole with a sullen pout I find eerily familiar. “Sixteen years old is in a long long long time.”

Combing duty over, I pull myself to my feet and lead the way through into the bedroom.

“Hell yes,” I mutter under my breath.

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