petite anglaise

August 1, 2007


Filed under: misc, Tadpole says — petiteanglaiseparis @ 2:08 pm

Tadpole and I are in a taxi, speeding along the A1 on the way to Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport. Tadpole is chattering away, nine to the dozen, and I am marvelling at the ease with which she has slipped back into English after a three week holiday spent entirely in French mode with mamie and papy.

“I’m so excited to go to see grandma and grandad,” she says, her eyes sparkling. “Grandad, he does always call me ‘long skinny banana legs’ and ‘curly top’, and he make me laugh…”

The previous day, when Mr Frog answered the door, I was overjoyed to be greeted by shrieks of “mummy, mummy, you’re here… I did miss you!” as a blurry, long-limbed figure with honey-coloured ringlets launched herself across the room and into my arms, nearly toppling me with the force of her hug. Usually it takes her a few hours to acclimatise herself after a prolonged absence, with me speaking English in the meantime, but Tadpole replying in French. Mr Frog, I noted, looked as surprised and pleased as I did to see her plunge into her mother tongue the very moment she clapped eyes on me.

“Mummy?” says Tadpole, putting a hand on my arm.


“When I’m thinking,” she says slowly, “on top of my head there are some clouds.” Her hands motion in the air above her curls. “A little cloud here, another little cloud on top, and then a big big cloud that touches the ceiling of the taxi car… Like in a bande dessiné. Can you see my clouds, mummy?”

I pretend to study the air above her head before I make my answer. “No,” I reply with a frown. “I think they must be invisible.”

“In the big cloud,” she says confidentially, “there is a picture of a teddy. Because I thinking that I would like to buy a new teddy.”

I grin, then lean across the leather seat of the taxi and cover her face with impulsive kisses.

That evening, chatting to my boy on MSN, I tell him about the thought bubbles, knowing that he will be suitably impressed, being a typical Frenchman with a sizeable collection of BD on his well-stocked, slightly intimidating bookshelves.

“If I had a bubble over my head right now,” I write, returning to the subject later, when our conversation has veered onto other, more adult, topics, “it would probably be prefaced with Viewer Discretion Advised!…” This elicits a virtual chuckle. My boy, who has been immobilised for a few days with a back pain of mysterious origin (for which I intend to take full credit in the absence of any compelling medical evidence to the contrary), pauses for a moment before replying.

J’aurais peur de lire ‘previously on the world poker tour’ au dessus de ma tête,” he confesses sheepishly.

June 18, 2007


Filed under: Tadpole rearing, Tadpole says — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:22 am

“Mummy?” says Tadpole, seconds after the front door closes behind “mummy’s friend”.

“Yes?” I say, hand poised to squirt ketchup onto a slice of baguette, in readiness for a much needed fish finger sandwich.

“Have you got a baby in your tummy yet?”

I flinch, and the ketchup misfires, liberally coating the worktop.

“No sweetie, I don’t have a baby in my tummy…” I say slowly, once I’ve recovered my composure, setting down the ketchup and crossing my fingers. “Why are you asking me that today?”

“Because mummy, when I said that I wanted a sister or a brother, like Anna at school, you said ‘maybe when you’re six years old’. And I’m already four years old. And after twenteen more sleeps I will be five, and then six…”

I sigh, and resolve never again to bow to Tadpole’s pressure to put a time limit on everything. Future events are always measured in sleeps in our household. And she has an alarming habit of remembering throwaway comments made six months or more ago, deliberately glossing over the word “maybe” and then repeating them to me with a “but you said as though I’d made some sort of legally binding promise.

“You know,” I say suddenly, with a sly smile, “daddy could make you a brother or sister. Maybe you should talk to daddy about this, too.”

A problem shared, I think to myself, picturing Mr Frog’s face, is a problem halved.

June 8, 2007

the tadpole interviews #1

Filed under: Tadpole says — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:52 am

It’s hard to believe that four years have skittered by since Tadpole was born.

I remember the sensation of her hiccupping inside my tummy when the Rough Guide to Pregnancy told me she was about the size of an avocado pear. I remember how she used to sleep on my shoulder, her fists curled above her head.

And now she is an independent little madam who likes to do everything for herself; a strong-willed, scarily intelligent and perceptive little person who runs rings around me every day.

Something tells me that before she turns five, she’ll have a blog of her own…

May 15, 2007

coconut cups

Filed under: Tadpole says — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:16 am

“Mummy, would you like to have coconuts cups on your nipples?”

I ponder this for a moment. We are lying in Tadpole’s bed, our heads under the covers, it is 7.15 am, and these rather surreal words are the first my daughter has uttered this morning. Suddenly realisation dawns. Which is a blessing. Because there is nothing worse at the moment than the wrath I incur when Tadpole says something and I don’t immediately twig what she is talking about.

“You mean like the Barbie dolls in the window at Zoë Bouillon?” Zoë Bouillon is a soup café on rue Rebeval that we occasionally walk past. I am proud to have remembered this: last time we marvelled at the window display of oddly dressed Barbie dolls was at least a fortnight ago.

“Yes! Like in the potage shop!” Tadpole is delighted that we are on the same wavelength this morning. “Or, would you like to wear flowers stuck on your nipples instead? That might be more prettier. We could stick some with glue.”

Hmmm, I think to myself. How about neither? Because I’m not a Barbie doll, or some sort of burlesque act, and it’s 7.15 am? But instead I say “I don’t think I need any coconut cups or flowers, right now, because I’m wearing a T-shirt, but maybe another time… because I’m sure it would be very pretty.” Tadpole nods, satisfied with my reasoning, then frowns a puzzled frown.

“Mummy? Why do some people say ‘priddy’ and not pretty.” This is what comes of exposing my daughter to Disney CD’s, I think to myself.

“You mean like the little mermaid? Well, she speaks American.” I try to convey by my intonation that this is a kind of inferior language with which I would rather Tadpole didn’t sully her lips.

“Do princesses always speak Merican?”

“Some princesses do. And our friend Meg does too.” Tadpole considers this exciting new piece of information for a moment. Meg is popular in our household, so I’ve probably just shot myself in the foot. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tadpole adopted an American accent from this moment on. It is therefore something of a relief when she opens her mouth and continues speaking in her usual blend of Yorkshire/RP/French.

“When I grow into a big lady,” she says decisively, “I’m going to speak Merican and be just like Meg.” I raise my eyebrows, as an image of Meg trying to smuggle bottles of beer into a nightclub inside her tights springs unbidden into my mind. I suppose there could be worse role models.

“But,” she adds with a grimace, “NOT with the same hair.”

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