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Seeing Double!


I swear this is how my day has went! Let me start with some family history. “Angel Girl” is my oldest daughter from a previous marriage. She is going to be ten in November and lives with her father in the states. Long and, yes, painful story with not so happy or so unhappy ending. I will call her Angel Girl here because she really is my angel. Her pet name from me has always been Angel Girl and it is even more appropriate due to the fact that she now flies twice a year to be with her french family. Next, are the “irish twins”….as a woman called them while we were still living in America. Mini-Monster was twelve and a half months old and Petite Clown was a newborn. It was the first time I had heard the expression and now that I have lived it It is true. They are like twins. These two are into everything together. If one is doing it the other must copy it. If one is playing quietly with a toy the other absolutely must have the quiet scattered away and replaced with high pitched screams by taking the toy ususally by force. Because of the crying and screaming and laughing and running and falling and jumping and fighting and on and on. Today, my nerves are shot! By the way my neighbor in the apartment under me hates us. She has asked me on three separate occasions if it is my children she hears crying and three times I have told this woman, “Yes, I am sure it is.” This is why tonight I am so cross with the little stinkers that I am seeing double. And even seeing double of the above view from my kitchen window (with the sun setting so peaceful on the beautiful old rooftops), I still had and have a spliting headache!SEE! It is past time for good little girls who go to school in the morning to be in bed and there it is. First a tiny wisper, “mama.” Then, a little louder, “Mama!” From there the Mama gets bigger and bigger until it is not so much a Large Mama but a HUGE MAMA. And it is followed by the whinny insistant, “Mama, Mama, Mama” over and over again. O.k. I am going to put out the “whinny Mama fire” that is growing by the second. Wish me luck. Hopefully, it is a small licking fire and not a crazy fire that has grown large enough to eat the whole house and myself. If I don’t come back you’ll know which it was.
Did not come back.

It is now Thursday morning. Yes, it was the large fire of Mamas but I survived and when my throbbing head hit the pillow I was happy. The last thing my little girl did before I tip-toed out of the dark, sleepy room was hug me hard around the neck and exclaim, “I love, Mama.” My Mini-Monster isn’t really a monster as much as a budding three year old. At the end of this month she is officially three! THREE! She is happy and frustrated at the same time. She has had a lot to deal with this year. A new brother, big sister that had to go back to the states after a great summer together, she started school for the first time and now must clean her own room as well as pee on big potty. Mama is tired of dumping little potty. Her life is getting dangerously more and more similiar to an adults. Well, I am sure she thinks so.

When I pushed her gently through the school gate today I felt tears trying to press their way out of my eyes. She looked so small and sweet and scared. She plays the monster at home but really she is just a sweet, little bear. I will change her name to Sweet Bear because she is big and strong for her age. She wears size four and five in clothes. And, because she is cuddly and soft at the same time.

In France children can start school at three. It is called the maternel. It is an option but I think most parents take advantage of it. School is on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (Saturday is in the mornings only). The first year at the maternel she goes only in the mornings since the kids who stay all day just take a nap in the afternoon. And even though most bears love naps my Sweet Bear doesn’t. Saturdays are optional during the first year as well. During lunch time most children go home to eat. And, in France lunch is for two hours.

You should have seen me last summer in front of the local grocery waiting to buy coffee…had run out of coffee that morning and needed a fix fast. I was beside myself because most of the time everything shuts from twelve to two for lunch. So, I arrived promptly at two to find the doors locked and in front of my nose was a sign declaring the hours of operation to recommence at THREE o’clock!!! WHAT!!! Three. The convenience of America and homesickness came flooding back. In America no decent store would close when a desperate, tired mother needed her warm cup of joe.

Even though I stay home with the children we decided to put Sweet Bear in the maternel so that she could be more…french. As she put it, “Sweet Bear, French!” She speaks french and understands everything that a three year old should. She just is always calling other children “les françaises”. I try to explain to her that she is french and american. She understands but still calls people who speak french. French. And people who speak english. English. It took me a month to make her understand she speaks english but is not English. She is American! Poor kid. So, off to the maternel she went to make friends and talk with other people besides my husband and his parents in french. Since she hears my american english babbling all day long every day she is pretty good at speaking english with just the right american attitude. My mother’s fear that the kids would not be able to speak english is put to rest. Favorite song of Sweet Bear…”We will, we will, ROCK YOU!!!” Even my Petite Clown who will be two in November can sing “Row, Row, Row your Boat” and “This Ol’ Man.” Since I don’t really know any children songs in french the maternel has been a good place for Sweet Bear to get “kiddy french” culture. And after a month at the maternel my Sweet Bear is starting to sing french songs. I just can’t pick the words out of her toddler song voice. You know. The one that sounds like chewing gum is in her mouth. Speaking of chewing gum in the mouth, that is what the french think of the american accent. It is said that when an american speaks to a french in english the french hears the words as if the american had chewing gum in their mouth. Well…..whatever! I think English english is very lovely and all. But, I miss My american english. Every time I hear this familiar “chewing gum english” from an american tourist or student I am homesick. I want to grab this poor person and whisk them away to a cafè to spend hours talking in and listening to MY language. There is a freedom to be able to speak and understand with ease and reference the little cultural jokes no one else but an american understands. My husband can speak english just fine. However, can I speak “american english” with him with the freedom to say everything just so….using all the slang, sayings and jokes. You know. Seriously play with the words. NOPE. No Can Do. The poor frenchman would be lost and I would have to explain what this and that word or phrase meant. By the time I finished all this the meaning of what I was originally saying would no longer matter. And it is impossible to have a conversation like this. But I would not trade my frenchman in for all the money in the world…..maybe, just for one thing. A piece of pumpkin pie?!? I really miss the stuff. Forget apple pie. It is pumpkin pie that is all american!

Welp. Gotta rescue the telephone from Petite Clown who is trying to call her grandmother in America!!!

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