Have you noticed that the small things in life can make a huge difference? This morning, just before starting the school run, I found out that two white vans (with the mandatory tabloid tucked behind the windscreen) had sandwiched my Chelsea tractor (one in front of me, one behind), and it took us more than 10 minutes to manage to get out the parking slot. Nightmare.
Then you have the cyclists that stop all the traffic on Crownwell Road. Crownwell Road is a 4-lane road in South Kensington but somehow cyclists seem to love riding on it, especially on the fast lane. Go figure. Maybe they are feeling a bit suicidal. Finally, when you find out that you have arrived two minutes before the school is supposed to open and you dare to knock at the door because it is raining cats and dogs, you get a long-winded lecture because the school opens at 8.00 am, not 7.58 am. “Is this a one-off or are you going to arrive in advance every day? You see, we were having a cup of tea, it might be a safety hazard for the children” I am not making this up.
This is a new series, and there will be 4 or 5 posts on different aspects of what “being French” entails. I will post on Sundays or on Mondays –depending on how busy the week-end is. Feel free to make any suggestions, comment, share on Twitter, etc…
It is the latest craze in town and I am sure that you can’t have missed it: apparently, the French are better at parenting than the British or the Americans. That’s what the American Journalist Pamela Druckerman wrote in her new book (already a bestseller in the UK, see here) : “French Children Don't Throw Food”. She has three children and lives in Paris. She believes that French children are better-behaved, sleep through the night at a younger age and are less fussy with food.
How come I hadn’t noticed? Why hadn’t anyone told me?
The good old routine is in full swing and, to make matters even worse, I badly miss the sun. London is dark, grey and rainy. In an ideal world, now would be a good time to escape somewhere sunny to top up my tan. But I can’t. The problem of growing older is that you have responsibilities. If I were to travel, who would take care of my daughters/my work/ my bills? My only option is therefore to try to find out how people cheer up here and now. So, during a (well-deserved, I think) lunch break, I went for a walk, trying to dodge the rain, to find out.
The cafes were packed. Apparently, some people stuff their faces to keep the blues at bay. I have nothing against the occasional chocolate cake or tiramisu but another problem of getting older is that I can’t really do it too often. Or I need a 5 km run right after to eliminate. Not nice.
Once again, I had a carefully prepared post but my plans have changed. Which means that it will just be a short post today! I was walking along the river with my daughters during the week-end -the weather was lovely, although a bit cold- when an angry driver, on the embankment, kept tooting his horn. I have no idea why, but for once it wasn't because of my driving because we were quietly walking on the pathway.
My older daughter, always the one to find the right word, said:
I am still learning every day. Over here, if you want to be heard or taken seriously, you have to proceed in a certain way. There is no point in being blunt or stating the facts. It is not going to serve you well. You have to tackle the matter in a tactful, indirect way.
You need to take baby steps, and slowly get to your point. I know that it can be frustrating but this is the only way to have a chance to make things happen. Just a chance.
For instance, I was talking about childbirth the other day with a few female friends. Let’s be honest here: it was very painful and I have to admit that I thought I was going to die because of the pain. And I know that I can’t really complain: there were no complications and both deliveries were pretty straightforward. Don’t get me wrong: it was all worth it and I have two beautiful daughters, but my point was that it remained a traumatic experience, even if all was well (as was the case).
Well, I got it all wrong. You are simply not supposed to say things like this. One of my friends lost a significant amount of blood and almost passed away during the process. Her comment about the whole experience was: “Well, it stings a little bit, doesn’t it?”. I was gobsmacked. My other friends nodded. They didn’t get what I was saying but they all understood the “It stings a little bit”. Clearly, it was time for me to change strategy. And I did try to change.
Coming back from Dubai, I was suffering from post holiday blues. There was just one thing for it: a Bollywood movie. So I decided to open the other movie sent by my Indian friend Nisha and we watched it.
This time it was “Lagaan”. The story is about a village of farmers in India during the Victorian period. In order not to pay the ever-increasing taxes imposed by the British, they need to win a cricket game against the British officers. Oh, and they don’t know a thing about cricket.
Watching Amir Khaan makes for great entertainment, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit sad for the British officer’s sister, Elizabeth, who helped the Indian team to achieve victory only to be left broken-hearted.
My younger daughter was absolutely mesmerized while watching the movie. You see, she loves cricket and she now wants to watch the movie again. All 224 minutes of it. I need to speed up her British citizenship application process. She is not French any longer!
I have a lot to be thankful for. I started this blog as a new year's resolution and for once I kept it! This is actually unheard of- I have never managed to keep a new year's resolution before. Have you?
Thank you to all my readers for being so supportive, thank you for all the comments, interactions, and all the good posts that I have read...I honestly didn't anticipate this blog to reach beyond my (small) circle of friends and acquaintances.
So, what will 2012 bring us? I have to admit that I don't know. But for once, I am happy with my new life, happy to have left the Corporate life and not too worried about my French accent. What I want, maybe, is to travel more and write more...
I do hope that we will continue the journey together. Thanks again!
Oh, and if you vote for me here I will love you forever !