Wednesday, February 1, 2017


I have not written in quite some time about the CHILLUNS, so I am now going to rectify that.

Little g
Little g is several months into French preschool. French preschool begins at age three. It is not obligatory, but something like 99% of French families do it because OMG why wouldn’t you? Little g’s school is nice. It’s public, which is FINE, since public school in France is just great if you live in a decent area, which we do. It’s also free, have I mentioned that? We had a brief flirtation with an organic, touchy-feely, bilingual Montessori option, but it cost upwards of 7,000 euros/year just to say hello, and, um, non. I myself went to a Montessori-esque school, and while it was wonderful and taught me to think outside the box and embrace my creativity and all that, it also sort of did not teach me much about MATH, for example, which my high school algebra teacher noticed right off the bat, and yes I still count on my fingers and oh hell let’s not go there. I’m not forking over 7k so that my 3-year-old can avoid the unpleasantness of homework, thank you very much.

So public school it is. In public school, one’s child is expected to be potty-trained, or as the French say, propre (clean). This is a pain in the ass cultural particularity that takes some getting used to. Little g, despite our best efforts, was not entirely propre when school began in the fall—but we, like many other parents, sent him anyway in the hope that peer pressure would kick him over the pee-pee turnstile. Now, because of increased security measures in France, when one picks one’s child up from school at 3:45 pm, one must wait outside the school gate until the children are released, at which point they come racing out of their respective classrooms and make a bee-line for the gate. They are then handed over to their parents or guardians one by one. So the first week, out comes little g, running along with his classmates and SO FRIGGING CUTE I CRIED LIKE EVERY DAY. Have I said how HARD it is for a mom to send her little one to preschool for the first time? He took it way, way better than I did, but anyway.... So out they come, skipping and smiling and so damn cute. Except what is that garbage bag swinging from little g’s darling orange penguin backpack? Oh, why, it’s full of the clothes I dressed him in this morning—all drenched in stinky pee-pee! Oh, and what are those pants he’s wearing? I’ve never seen them before! Huh. Is this a Scarlet Letter, shame-them-into-conformity thing? If so, it’s whack.

So the whole first week pretty much went that way. Pee-pee, trash bag, someone else’s clothes. Since then, he’s gotten much better (the peer pressure thing works, in other words) and we are mostly past the accident phase, which does not mean I have removed the beach towel from our couch (duh).

Let’s talk about his teacher for a minute, because she’s a piece of work. The woman is in her 60’s, obviously close to retirement, and took a disliking to me from the get-go. Why? Maybe because I’m FOREIGN (actually I’m not, but that’s a post for another day). She likes to balancer (chuck) these semi-sarcastic, WTF-is-that-supposed-to-mean side comments at me, such as, “Your son said a whole sentence in French today” (he’s bilingual, connasse). Or, “You shouldn’t laugh when I reprimand your son” (what?). Or, “You should feed him breakfast because he’s eating his friends” (WHAT?). Anyway, the dislike is mutual, I can assure you. This woman needs to retire and not go anywhere near any little children anymore for the rest of her sad, bitter life. Moving on....

Bonus #1: How to get scratches out of hardwood floors, courtesy of little g and his @&$!! Lightning McQueen race car
Forget the wood paste, olive oil, lemon juice, white vinegar, and whatever other bullshit advice you find online. Grab some professional furniture repair wax in multiple shades of brown, a soft cloth, a plastic scraper (old credit cards work nicely), and a shit ton of patience and go for it. Good luck.

Baby c
Baby c is a dream. She’s sweet, cute, sleeps well and smiles a ton. She gives these slobbery baby kisses that just melt your heart. She is also SICK ALL THE TIME, because oh, have I mentioned that preschool is like one giant biology experiment in which 30 little kids cough all over each other/share their teddy bears/swap pacifiers/do God knows what else for 7+ hours a day? Yeah, so lots of sick. Sick begets sick, especially when sick child #1 loves to hug and kiss heretofore healthy child #2, thus ensuring maximal viral transfer. So baby c, despite being only 6 months old, has already come down with multiple colds, a horrid ear infection, two eye infections, and the straight-up flu, thank you very much French public school.

Also, having two kids is insane. No one tells you this beforehand, because if they did, the fertility rate would plummet, but it’s ridiculously hard. Even if they’re sweet and cute and generally amazing, it’s STILL by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and that includes moving to Paris with nothing more than a last-second sublet and a dream (aw). What’s the divorce rate for couples with two or more small children? I shudder to guess. And on that note,

Bonus #2: The Keep It Together cocktail
5 cl Cointreau
4 cl fruit juice (cranberry, orange or apple)
2 cl fresh lemon juice
Pour into shaker. Shake, shake, shake.
Serve in a fancy glass because you deserve it!
ENJOY—feel the bitchiness leaving your body.
Repeat as necessary.

Bonus #3: How to get mashed peas out of a shaggy throw rug
Get down on hands and knees, with a magnifying glass if necessary.
Pick out as many little pieces of pea as possible. Long fingernails help.
Wait overnight, allowing any remaining pea mush to dry up.
Spray carpet with carpet cleaner.
Vow not to buy another shaggy throw rug until your kids are at least 18.
See Bonus #2.

Get used to this, kiddo.

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