It’s been a while. Apologies. There’s always plenty to write about but I guess I/we’ve been feeling a little bogged down with the daily grind lately. Here’s what a normal day looks like for us at the moment.
6am - Footsteps and then a whisper “I want cornflakes” (Euan). Maaarrrrmy. Daaaaad. I want up!” (Hazel). Groans ensue from the parental bed.
6.15am - Chris is usually first up. Luckily for me he likes to be up with the birds and the babies. Soon I have a hot cup of mud-coloured Yorkshire Gold in my hand - this is quite possibly as important to my survival as oxygen and sleep. I import it from England as tea in France is fine and fancy but waaay to weak. I barely feel human before that first sip and I love my husband dearly for this daily luxury.
7am - Breaky for me. Maybe a second breaky for the kids. They watch a bit of TV while I tidy the kitchen and have a shower.
7.30am - I help the kids get dressed and bags readied to get Euan to school (yes he is fully/fabulously toilet trained and attending French public school and enjoying it! - mostly). We are still more often than not doing the hats/coats/gloves thing so this part can drag out. I’d be lying if I said this part was easy or fun.
8am - Clamber out the door. Or more accurately, negotiate/bargain/cajole les enfants to get out the bloody door, into the bloody elevator, don’t press all the buttons, don’t run on the freshly mopped floor and don’t run onto the street and get hit by a scooter! Please!
8.15am - Finally we are on our way. I’m often pushing the pram with Hazel in front and Euan cruising on the buggy board at the back. The walk is just a little bit far to expect him to walk all the way, and if we’re running late (we often are) it’s much quicker if I’m in control, pushing that heavily laden pram in the rain, hail and bitter cold over uneven surfaces and detouring the slow walkers and path-hoggers of which there are many.
8.30am - School drop off! The stern lady at the door looks at me and then looks at the clock and then frowns and I say cheerfully say "Bonjour" and she says "Bonjour". Any reluctance from Euan dissolves the second he puts his coat on the hook and skips into class. I say "Bonjour" to the teacher, give Euan’s hand a little squeeze and drag Hazel out of the class-room kicking and screaming because she wants to go to school too! Getting home takes a while as Lady H insists on exploring as much of the park as she can get away with before I crack it with her for walking in the opposite direction and she goes kicking and screaming back in the pram.
9.30am Mornings vary depending on the day of the week. Some mornings we have a play-date or I have a language lesson organised. Sometimes Mummy has a playdate with a friend called the coffee machine at a place called Housework. Sometimes Hazel has garderie (kind of like occasional care). If it's a garderie day, school drop-off is followed by a half hour walk up a cobbly wobbly hill followed by the recollection of three different security codes to get through the back exit of the building, store the pram in the overcrowded “local pousette”, climb to the 3rd floor for an extended cuddle with Hazel and a breathless conversation with the French speaking staff. This conversation is disjointed and peppered with intelligent phrases such as "desolee", "pouvez-vous répéter s'il vous plait", "oui" (nodding), "oui" (more nodding), pause. "D’accord, au revoir!"
Definitely my favourite mornings are when I’ve dropped both kids off and I have French “class.” This involves meeting up with my French tutor who talks to me in French and expects me to answer in French. There are a lot of things I love about this hour - getting my brain into gear, enjoying uninterrupted adult conversation, being amongst the morning buzz of a typical Parisian cafe atmosphere of course drinking a cup of perfectly imperfect coffee. This hour gives me the space to remember where I am, and that I’m very fortunate to have an abundance of unique opportunity right in front of me. Breathe. Ahhhhh.
11am - Return to school for pick-up (Euan is just attending mornings at the moment). Same bonjour/clock-check/bonjour from the frowning lady at the door. 2 flights of stairs and another breathless “French” conversation with the teacher about Euan’s ticks and crosses for the morning. Getting home is either a leisurely meander through the park or race up the hill to get Hazel before I get my knuckles rapped with a ruler for being too close to "on-time." Sometimes we are doing all of this whilst battling rain/snow/tantrums/generalised dawdling syndrome and or/all of the above.
12 .30am - Bon appetit! Lunch at home.
1pm - Quiet play.
1.30am - Stories nap time for Hazel. Encourage Euan to sleep and fail. Encourage “quiet” time and often fail. Encourage low-key activity such as drawing, puzzles etc. I try to use this time to update my blog or practice French or plan dinner or do washing, bill paying etc.
3.30am - Hazel wakes up with a bang and we’re off again. Options here are to go to the market for fruit and veg top-ups, maybe a croissant for afternoon tea, a trip to the park or meet up with some friends. If we don’t feel like going anywhere we hang out on the terrace for some fresh(-ly polluted) air and to admire the endless sea of higgledy-piggledy terracotta chimneys tops.
5pm - Get dinner prepared as much as possible before toxic hour kicks in around 5.30. This is a tough time as both kids are getting tired and my patience is wearing thin they will not entertain themselves easily and I am chopping carrots with 2 ankle biters actually biting ankles (mine or each-others).
5.30/6pm - Dinner is served and by now toxic hour(s) has literally become poisonous and it’s about now I start hoping that Chris might decide to come home early today.
6.30pm - Bath time. It’s all fun and games until the game becomes splashing water all over the bathroom and along comes my alter ego Scary Mum.
7pm - Chris walks in the door and not a minute too soon as Hazel is climbing the change-table in the nude and Euan is having a melt down because he wanted to pull the plug out all by himself and he bumped his head mid-tantrum because he was soaking wet and slipping everywhere. Oh blimey. Where the wine.
7.30pm - The kids are usually in bed for a story with Dad by now. Sometimes I join in, sometimes I’m mute on the couch.
8pm - Chris and I say our good nights to the kids and catch up on each other’s days. We are both pretty tired and by the time we’ve unwound it seems like bed-time. I often intend to practice French but usually don’t.
In other news:
- I dropped the Vegemite jar and it smashed to smitherines. Help.
- Spring came. Hallelujah.
- We bought a car. Now we can escape the city and have adult conversation while the kids sleep - heaven. The scenic route is our oyster.
- My footy team let me down again. Being able to watch every AFL match live from Paris has it’s advantages and disadvantages. How can those bloody Tigers affect my mood so severely when they’re 16,781 kilometres away? The distance is fortunate for them otherwise they may have mysteriously received a second trailer-load of chicken-shit on their doorstep, 2001 style.
- I’ve looked really hard for a nice trench coat so I can consider myself a little Frenchified. I couldn’t find one I liked and have decided I don’t like trench coats so I’m therefore not-at-all-French.
- It was Hazel’s birthday! We had a “Nemo” themed party and had some new friends over to sing and eat cake. I made some of Claire’s mums sausage rolls and they were a hit, thanks Anne.
- Chris has worked really hard for the last 6 months (at work and at home). He finished up his first big project recently and is feeling more settled in his role. He is pleased with his achievements so far. He’s also pleased that his footy team had 2 wins in a row. Sure, they’ve beaten the two worst performing teams of the season thus far but y’know, take it when you can! I know I do. That said I am OFF the 2016 RFC bandwagon. Officially off.
- Chris and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a great French meal and a wander around Saint Germain. In 6 years we have been around the world and back, both literally and figuratively, and who knew that that is what marriage is all about? 6 years ago I can honestly say we didn’t.
Next on the agenda is a little holiday in the south west countryside of France. Do you think we need it? Can you tell? We are soo looking forward to escaping the city, taking in a little history and hopefully a little wine. Tell me please, what is the highlight or your day? What do you rely on to get through the daily grind?