Smell my butt. This is hilariously/embarrassingly the 3 year-old’s newest catch phrase. Hilarious because, well, it’s fucking priceless to have an adorable 3 year-old girl come up to you in her sweet little sundress, tap you on the leg and then demand you stick your nose where she poops from. Embarrassing because now she has taken it outside of the home, and has started asking strangers, both children and grownups, on the street or in the park. In addition to that, she turns her back towards you and bends over, as if you might be confused as to where her bum is located on her body. As if she believes someone, someday, might actually take her up on this offer. The other day at the park after school, I looked across the playground, horrified, as I saw her standing in front of one mother, pretty much in downward-facing dog, butt high in the air. I knew instantly what was taking place and ran over to save the mother from having to deal with such an outrageous proposition. The looks we get while walking by the corner cafe on the way to school vary from disgusted, you-should-not-be-child-rearing disapproval, to stifled laughs. I can’t seem to get her to stop either. I don’t know if it’s because every time I try and have a serious talk with her about how it’s inappropriate, I crack up or start to smile (HOW CAN YOU NOT, especially when she responds with, “but Sara, it’s just a butt”, or worse, “but Sara, my butt smells good,” as she starts to try and put her hands down her pants to provide evidence). Freud needs to let a nanny know how to speed up the anal stage. ASAP.
Yesterday at lunch the 6 year-old, taking a time-out from her chicken cordon-bleu, turned to me and demanded, “Sara, before you leave for Canada can you teach me all sorts of things? You know, like, grownup things?” I didn’t really know how to respond immediately but after a slight pause I decided to try and get a sense of what I would be agreeing to if I said yes. “What sorts of grownup things were you thinking, kiddo?,” I asked. Without even a hesitation she slightly shrugged her shoulders and replied, “Oh you know, how to tell time and how to spell ‘petit’ and all that stuff.” Ahhh, yes, all that grownup stuff. The adult world isn’t really all that difficult, is it? “Absolutely”, I confirmed, “how about we start working on ‘petit’ right after lunch?” I had never considered a job in adult education, but with this type of training and experience, I might as well add it to my ever-growing list, “possible future careers.”
I’m about to write the cutest thing that I’ve written thus far. Last week, I took the girls to the park for an afternoon snack and play time. After chowing down on apple slices, the skin kindly removed by yours truly, and hazelnut cookies, the girls took off around the playground. Instantly leaving the realm of reality, where I was left sitting, they entered the world of their imaginations. Their imaginations led them to the jungle, where they were first veterinarians helping the jungle animals, and then they were jungle plant doctors (totally a job), who were heroically committed to saving the jungle vegetation. Completely believing this alternate reality, they stumbled upon a plant at the side of the park whose leaves had seen better days. Rushing over to me, with the wilted leaves laid flat in their palms, the girls shouted excitedly that it was their duty as jungle plant doctors to save these leaves, if not the entire plant from which they came. I decided to hold my tongue and not point out the fact that by simply plucking the dying foliage from their life source, they had already successfully euthanized the poor little leaves. They were done, kaput, not even the best jungle plant doctor could save them now. Still, they insisted I pour them some water from our thermos into one of the cups where they commenced making some sort of mud soup that would help the leaves. The oldest girl was the head plant surgeon in this case, instructing the little one every step of the way: “we need sticks. more dirt. MORE DIRT. now stir. keep going.” But the cutest command came when the 6 year old demanded that since plants need sunlight, it was imperative to the health of the leaves that sun be brought to this dirt mixture immediately. The littlest girl took off across the playground and I watched carefully as to how she was going to fulfill this order from the head doctor. We were seated on the benches under the shade, so when the little one reached the area of the park basked in sunlight, she thrust out her little hands and made two big fists. Then she came running back, fists held triumphantly in the air, announcing that she had found (as though sunlight were a rare commodity) not one but TWO handfuls of sunlight for the plant. Pleased, the head surgeon nodded, as if to say, “you know what to do”, and the three year old followed suit by throwing her hands, one after the other in the direction of the mud soup. Accompanying this action were sound effects (similar to an explosion, or a serious battle between two wizards-in-training at Hogwarts), and the girls began jumping up and down as though this last final move had brought the plucked petals back from the dead. It had not. They remained wilted and now severely damaged floating in a stew of pebbles and sticks. Nevertheless, the girls considered it a victory and we had to take the gross, dead, dirty leaves home with us to show the mom how we had “saved the jungle”. Mom was psyched as you could imagine.
I had never considered Hungry Hungry Hippos a difficult game, and certainly never thought it required a certain skill level. I was, of course, wrong. The girls and I have been really into this game lately, where the sole purpose is to slam your hand on a black lever as quickly as possible, forcing your neon coloured hippo to swallow marbles spilled across a board. At the end, whoever has the most marbles, wins. This seems rather simple, right? Wrong. So wrong. We’ve been doing Hungry Hungry Hippos tournaments lately, and the six year-old, for the life of her, can’t get a handle of the game. I don’t think she’s won a single game yet, and we’ve played a lot. Like, a LOT. At first I mistakenly thought it was because she was using the pink hippo which is no longer the hippo it once was due to years of abusive human hands. It normally gets stuck and often you have to stop and adjust its mouth in the middle of all the madness. Because that’s what a game of Hungry Hugry Hippos is, friends-complete and utter madness. Chaos in the truest sense of the word. I don’t know if you’ve ever played before, but as soon as you countdown from three and scream “c’est parti!”, people lose their minds. Closest friends temporarily become worst enemies, and I, personally, find myself exhaling one long yell that lasts the entire duration of the game. This normally only lasts between thirty seconds to a minute. I stress the word normally here, because when we play with the six year old, it takes at least twice as long. For some reason, as I count backwards and yell GO, her hands are suddenly moving through molasses. She has the mobility and speed of an elderly woman who is long past her knitting years. It’s exhausting to watch, and at the end of every game she’s always so disappointed with her performance that it breaks my heart. We’ll finish counting our marbles and she’ll look up at us and sigh saying, “I’ve only got three- AGAIN”. Picture that. In two minute’s time and out of thirty marbles, this little girl is only ever capable to trap roughly three of them. THREE! Her kid sister is even kicking her ass, which of course just adds to her disappointment. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to rig the games. I use a technique where it looks as though my hippo is frantically eating, but actually his mouth isn’t opening. I’d hoped this would give her a chance to get ahead, but no such luck. Even when it was just the two of us playing and the three year-old didn’t have a chance to dominate, it eventually became too painful to watch her try, what I’m assuming was her darnedest, to no avail. She just can’t seem to get her shit together when it comes to this game. And have you ever watched someone concentrate really hard on a task that they just completely sucked at? It’s too uncomfortable. I don’t know if I can go on playing like this.
The past weekend I traveled to Aix en Provence, a mid-sized town in the Provence region of France, with four friends (3 Canadians, 1 Australian). The city, inhabitants and surrounding countryside were indescribably beautiful, it’s one of those places you can just wander and people watch for hours. It was a hell of a time, especially the Saturday night, where we decided to go out on the town. Boy did we ever. Beginning with how every great night out begins-bowling, we danced, cheered and gutter-balled our way into the hearts of the employees and one french family occupying the lane beside us. The greatest story though, takes place after leaving the bowling alley and heading to a dance bar/pub called Wahoo. Assuming our positions on the d-floor, we grooved outrageously to a playlist so good, you could have guessed one of us took the dj hostage and plugged our ipods into the speakers. No joke. Sean Paul, Beyonce, Avicii, House of Pain, Rihanna, and basically every song you could ever hope to hear blaring over a crowd of sweaty, dancing people, were pumping loudly. Only the thing was, not many people were actually dancing. I’ve come to realize that the French don’t really “get down”. They’re more-so a fan of the head-bob and mellow side-step. Take it from the non-dancer that I am, normally I’m all for the subtle dance moves, but even for me, it was a bit stiff. I just wanted to go up to all of the young Frenchies and shake the large poles right out of their butts. It was just TOO French that even on the dance floor they retain their cool, and heaven forbid they break a sweat in public, because that’s so unbecoming. Needless to say, the 5 foreign girls obnoxiously twirling about and Egyptian walking (that was me) across the floor, caused quite the scene. At one point, the musical landmark, “Crank dat Souljaboy” came on, and my friend Anna thought it time to really break it down. Mad props to her, because she knew every silly step of that ridiculously nonsensical song, and she busted them out right in the middle of the floor, which required a lot of space. Even more, her performance drew quite the crowd of French spectators. That’s where our problems began. While the remaining 4 of us were surrounding Anna, obviously singing/rapping “crank dat soulja boy” where appropriate, the crowd of French onlookers gained two French bitches, who were not at all pleased that us foreigners were disrupting the longstanding French tradition of not having fun. The one particularly bitchy fashionista edged closer and closer to Anna and positioned herself right in the line of fire for when Anna would surely crank it back across the floor. She was glaring the entire time, and believe me when I say, if looks could kill, the entire bar would have been a blood bath. That’s how much hate was radiating from her corneas. So as Anna was doing a hella-good job of showing the French how people are intended to act while in a dance hall, this biatch got all up in her business and started telling her off in French, including her main issue, that Anna had stepped on her toes. Big deal. She witnessed what was happening and placed herself directly in the line of fire; safe to say she was looking for a fight. Anna, with a confused look on her face, apologized, turned back to us and we carried on dancing, just slightly more discreetly than before. When my friend Emily leaned in to ask Anna what happened, the French crazy-lady came storming in, declaring in English “I’M NOT CRAZY”, entirely disproving her point. Then, even after we thought we had done a decent job of toning down our fun, for the sake of the French population, another French lady (let’s call her French biatch #2, shall we?), started ragging on Anna again, telling her to move (pousse-toi, in french). Frustrated by their lack of energy, manners, and sense of fun, we moved across the dance floor to where we saw a large group of other students dancing the night away, much more our style. They turned out to be a group of American exchange students and upon joining them we were greeted with big smiles and a mob mentality that we were there to dance, not shuffle our feet and glare snobbily at other bar patrons. This collective frustration and understanding led to the exchange students starting an obnoxious U.S.A chant, and yelling loudly about how we were all American. Then we had to break it to them that we were actually Canadian and Australian, after which the cheer quickly died, and we received awkward glances and disappointed “oh’s”. What the hell, people. We left the obnoxious Americans as well and thought it best to move on to the next destination. Now you know that if going dancing in France, choose your bars wisely, and save your best moves for another country, they’re wasted on the French. Trust me.
I awoke last night in the middle of the night due to a nagging bladder. After several minutes of denial, trying to fight the fact that I had to pee, or telling myself that I could hold it until morning, I finally caved and left my nice warm bed. Upon opening the door to the bathroom, I was greeted by the smiling face of the 3 year-old, who was seated on the toilet, doing her thing. I jumped, slightly startled that anyone else was awake, and slightly unnerved that she was sitting there, smiling at me like a porcelain doll from my childhood bedroom. “Salut” I whispered to her through the dark, “salut, Sara” she replied and started to giggle. Then it just got silly. Within ten seconds we were both in fits of giggles for God only knows why, but we couldn’t stop. And the more I tried to hold it in, or cover my mouth with my hand, the harder I laughed. Just when I thought I had gotten myself under control, the 3 year-old looked up at me, still perched on the toilet, laughter and smile abruptly gone, and asked “Sara, do you like my bum?”. I couldn’t even reply before she went right ahead and said “I think my bum is beautiful”. That phrase ended me. It was over, completely over, my laughter went on for minutes. I think I chuckled myself back to sleep once I had finally crawled back into bed, that’s how deliriously tired I was. I fucking love 3 year-olds.
Know what I’ve always loved? People who wear those t-shirts that say FBI in big yellow block-letters on the front. I love those. I love the people who wear those. As though they’re just feds on their off-duty. As though actual members of the FBI, when they’re not working, just walk around, eat dinner or do their grocery shopping all while obnoxiously sporting their place of work on their clothing. Even more appreciated is that still over here in France, the land of vanity and high fashion, people wear those. I suppose it’s probably just feds on vacation. Oh wait, wait, wait, EVEN better are the ones that say corny things like “female body inspector” in small font underneath the big bold letters. I need to get one.
Whoa, I’m behind on this blog. Not, like, super-mega-behind, but still. I’ll catch you guys up over the next couple of days, promise. First up: my skiing experience. Two weekends ago, the mom of the girls graciously invited me along for their family ski weekend in the alps. My only Alps experience up until that point had involved jumping off of them, with only a parachute and another woman attached to my body (less dramatically known as parasailing). That alone had me addicted to mountains. I was hooked on the Alps, and therefore, without considering my ski experience, enthusiastically accepted her offer. I don’t think it really hit me, until we were in the car winding along a road through a quaint ski town, just how bad I was at skiing. Now, to be fair to myself, I’d only been two or three times, but regardless, the outcome was the same: flailing limbs, uncontrollable speed, and everybody on the hill (myself included) concerned for my safety. And that was only on Ontario hills, nothing comparable to the majestic European mountain peaks that awaited me. Not to go too into detail (who am I kidding?), but certain thoughts, such as, “what the fuck have I gotten myself into?”, “what if I get to the top of a hill and chicken out?” and “is it possible to just eat fondue and crush beers all day in the ski lodge, or is that seriously frowned upon?” did cross my mind. Saturday morning came all too quickly and it was time to “hit the slopes” (oh sorry, that’s ski talk for “skiing”, don’t worry, you’ll learn). My first qualm with the sport of skiing: there has just GOT to be better possible footwear. I felt like I had two peg legs, hell I walked like I had two peg legs. It honestly seemed to me as though we had selected the furthest parking spot available, and there I was (after the mom had helped me put my ski boots on), dragging/shuffling/limping towards the hill. My skis were coming apart and crossing every which way, as I struggled to keep them in my arms, keep my balance, and avoid whacking any innocent bystanders, thus ruining their precious ski trip. I was a mess. An obvious skiing “newby”. Sure, I had the name-brand jacket, very expensive goggles, and the warmest snow pants on the market (all lent to me), but it took only three seconds of watching me hobble around, to recognize that I was a poser. We took the first lift to reach the base of the hills, and might I just say that they should really make it more clear that the skis are not to be taken inside of the “oeuf”, but are supposed to be placed in slots on the outside of the carriages. Had this been more clear, it would have spared me from attempting to fit my skis in the little cabin with us, and wrestling the worker who was trying to pry them from my hands, thinking he wanted to steal my skis. Once we finally arrived at the hills, I realized: this was it; check my pride at the lift, and give it a go. The Green hills seemed to be the best way to start, because I saw several toddlers heading with their parents that direction. My first run down, following the tracks of a six-year old, I bailed. I did a single turn, got cocky, and completely lost control. I kept at it though, and by lunch time, I was feeling pretty good about the Greens. Nancy, the mom, had suggested I sign up for ski lessons in the afternoon, but I was reluctant. How could I not imagine a cinematic moment, where the camera, zoomed in, scans along a line of little toddlers doing the “debutant” (beginner) lessons, before coming to me, forcing the camera to scan up. Then my imagination got the better of me and I continued to picture how there would just have to be one french-toddler-skiing-bully who would obnoxiously point out my age and lack of skills, and then would push me over or something. No, there was no way I could subject myself tothat much humiliation in one day. Thankfully, there were individual lessons I could do, so while I was still on the dinky hills with the potential french-toddler-skiing-bully, I was at least isolated and off to the side with an instructor. Let me just say, my friends, that my teacher whipped me into a ski-pro (note the lack of reference for my definition of “pro”, please). It took only an hour and a half, and I was zooming down Blues. Yea, you heard me, I left the Greens behind. What. Up. There was only one incident to follow that could have potentially soiled my new reputation as a ski master. It involved me, during one of my very broad, broad turns, speeding towards a young boy, trying in vain to yell “attention!” in time, before completely flattening the child. I clipped his skis, causing both of us to fly through the air, losing our skis in the process. Woops. Luckily neither of us came aware with more than mental trauma, and we carried on. But that was it, readers. After that minor setback, I was a whiz. And, no, I didn’t make it to the Reds, but I figure I’ll try out for the next winter Olympics all the same. When are those again? I need to know so I can brush up a few more times on ma skillz. I’ll probably make the team, too, so look out for me during the Russian winter Olympic games. I’m not sure specifically what type of skiing event I’ll tryout for (that’s how it works, right? and then they put a list of the successful contestants outside the locker room doors or some shit?), but I’ll be there. If you could all just refer to me as “your holy ski-ness” from now on, that would be awe-sooome. Thanks for the support, friends.
One of the sweetest things about the 3 year-old is how generous she is about sharing her things. Her toys are always fair game, but perhaps the most remarkable gesture of generosity, in my opinion, is how willing she is to give her food to others. She is constantly encouraging either her sister, mother or I to take a bite of whatever is on her plate. This is most outstanding to me because as everyone knows, I hate sharing food. Not only do I cling to my food as though I gave birth to it, but the worst part is that I feel actual anger when people ask me for a bite of something. Literally, I’m enraged by the mere suggestion that I should offer up a bit of my pastry/sandwich/dessert etc. to anyone who isn’t me. I know this sounds awful and horribly selfish, but I know myself, and know that when it comes to food, my generosity is seriously limited. Hence why, when I see the 3 year-old persistently offering her bread, dinner, or even dessert or candy, to other people at the table, I am in awe. The sweetness of her generous spirit, however, is wrapped in grotesque table manners; I’m talking caveman-esque etiquette. I find it hilariously disgusting, yet endearing, that she doesn’t realize the social faux-pas of ripping a piece of bread, that she’s in the middle of chewing, out of her mouth to shove in someone’s face demanding they “goute-le” (which means, in my lazy unaccented french, “taste it”). Nor does she find it the least bit gross to man handle a piece of cheese for several minutes before smooshing it in your hand, informing you that she wants you to have it. As though this sweaty, hand-softened piece of fromage is a gift. She has no problem sharing utensils with anyone at the table, even though after you look at her lips and the surrounding area, you have your own doubts about the cleanliness of her mouth. Many times she has willingly handed over a slobbery piece of chocolate, claiming it’s so good, you HAVE to eat some. All the while, whether it be the half-chewed bread, warm cheese, germ infested spoonful of pudding, or saliva covered candy, she gives you this adorable little grin which reassures you that she’s not trying to be gross, she really is just trying to let everyone taste something she finds too delicious to keep all to herself. So even though I’ve had to choke down my fair share of food no longer in its recognizable form, I’m still filing this in the “cute” category.
So the other day the three year old walks into the kitchen while I’m preparing lunch and tugs on my jeans. I acknowledge her presence with a “yessss, Tiffany?” followed by a hair tousle. She looks up at me with the straightest, most serious face I imagine a 3 year-old can make and says, “Sara, j’ai fait caca dans mes culottes, mais pas trop”. Translation: “Sara, I pooed in my underpants, but not too much”. She said this in a calm tone that implied I needn’t worry or change her or anything because carrying just a little load of crap around in your drawers wasn’t smelly or gross or anything. Let me tell you kid, any amount of shit in your pants is “too much”. Oh and for the record, she needs to check her point of reference for determining deuce sizes because I would have classified what I had to clean up as too much. Far, far too much.