2013, here I come (very slowly)


I have given myself ten days to savour this new year and so far I can say it tastes a bit like a yoghurt that has just slightly turned. Or wine that you’re not sure is corked or just a bit weird. Or a nearly-but-not-quite stale biscuit. I’m not sure why these things spring to mind. I think it’s the feeling of looking forward to a fresh, new start, and then realising I need some new spark plugs if things are going to go anywhere.

I began this year with a damaged coccyx, which rather puts a damper on anything involving sitting down, moving from sitting down to standing up (and vice-versa), and picking anything up. Which, I discovered, is most things when you are the mother of a 5 year old and a 2 year old. I am proud to say it was the result of a motorbike accident. Yes, me, the daring, racy motorbike rider, all leather and denim and long blonde hair in the wind. I am less proud to say the motorbike is about 50 cm high, pink and yellow and made of plastic. It is a fine source of amusement for those between 2 and 7 as they race down the concrete drive at 90 mph and onto the lawn. Tommy was managing to pick up enough speed to go right round the tree at the bottom of the lawn. It looked like such fun I thought I’d have a go. And it was fun, really fun, all the way down the drive, the kids and I screaming with laughter… until I hit the bump which leads onto the lawn. The motorbike went up, so did my bottom, and then came crashing back down onto the plastic saddle which has a little upward curving protuberence at the tail-end. In flight, my own tail-end shifted backwards a couple of centimetres, only to meet whackingly with the knobbly bit. In terms of pain I would rate childbirth as the most painful thing I have experienced, followed by toothache and ear infections, followed by this. I have never ever hurt this part of my body so it was a surprising pain as it made me realise that bit of my body really REALLY exists.

This happened on Christmas Eve. For two weeks I couldn’t sit down properly. I had to twist sidewards or lean right forward. We had a long drive back from Barcelona during which I hung on to the passenger seat handle above the door and swayed my way home. We went straight to a friend’s surprise birthday party. She is an osteopath and told me to get it checked out straight away as it’s easy to break or fracture your coccyx without realising. There’s not much you can do about it except let time heal the bones, but if you know it’s broken or fractured you should take it really easy. This was the perfect excuse to get out of the house and read one of my Christmas books so the next day I drove to E&R and spent a few hours standing in a waiting room (still too painful to sit) and then had a x-ray done. Result: no broken bones (hoorah), but the coccyx had been “twisted” (yikes). The doctor explained it’s like twisting your ankle and that once the inflammation goes down it all goes back to normal, but could really benefit from an osteopathy session. Great, I thought, I’ll just see my osteopath friend as soon as possible. Alas, she doesn’t ‘do’ the coccyx. The look on her face worried me. “What does ‘doing the coccyx’ involve?” I asked. She winced. “Interior intervention.” Ah. “You mean, finger up the bum?” She nodded. I winced.

I have found an osteopath who ‘does the coccyx’. Thankfully, for the moment, L’Homme is away for 10 days so I can’t book an appointment as I don’t really want to take Léonie with me while having someone wiggle their finger up my bum. In fact, maybe I’ll keep on finding excuses until things heal all on their own. In fact, my coccyx already feels much better.

No, I’m NOT perching on the edge of my chair to write this. Honest. ish.

Another reason for not starting this year on jet-skis is illness descending upon both kids and me (it’s a family tradition to be really poorly for the first ten days of the year) and my friend Bernie slowly vanishing into the afterworld; wherever that may be. I’m not going to write much more about him right now as I’m not ready to, but I am thinking of him constantly at the moment, as he slips from here to there. Another brilliant, beloved soul who doesn’t deserve to go so soon.

It is 9:30 pm and Léonie (age 2) is leaping around the kitchen singing “Mummy, Mummy, MUMMYYYYYYYY, woter, woter WOTERRRRRR”, whilst tossing a sippy cup in the air and biting through the skin of a banana, sideways. Tommy is asleep on the sofa having had a worm intervention earlier on in the evening (me, Doc. Harrison-Bullett, P.H.D. in Worms – I won’t go into the details). I should carry them both up to bed but my coccyx won’t take it.

Welcome to my world, 2013.

The motorbike on which I had my Christmas Eve accident.

The motorbike on which I had my Christmas Eve accident.

Merry Christmas

We’re off to Spain! I’m planning to go swimming in the sea on Boxing Day! Pray for my nipples! (they may well freeze off)
X x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x etc.20121223-135328.jpg

Do the right Christmas

It’s 11 pm. The kids are in bed, asleep. L’Homme is also in bed, asleep. The presents are under the tree. Tommy’s stocking is full. I have deemed Léonie too little to have a stocking this year. In any case she will be thrilled with the wrapping paper and tangerine peel from Tommy’s stocking presents. The cinnamon star biscuits are iced. There is no laundry to do. As I type this, my eyebrows are slowly dying – in the sense ‘turning colour’, not ‘coming to the end of their life’. In fact, I should take a pause to go and remove the dye before I end up with pitch black caterpillars above my eyes.

It is Christmas tomorrow. We are doing a mixture of English and French Christmases (Christmasses? Christmi?). This basically means that we get to have two festive meals; oysters and salmon this evening (Le Réveillon) and a roast with potatoes, brussels, carrots, Christmas pudding and crackers tomorrow lunchtime. I have stubbornly held out and insisted that present-wise, we do things the English way, ie. the presents under the tree are from us, our family, our friends, with name tags on to remind us who sent what, and the presents in the stocking are from Santa. Here in France there’s no such thing as a Christmas stocking; it’s the presents under the tree that are from Père Noel and appear magically overnight with no effort from Mummy, Daddy, Granny or Grandad or anyone. I was outraged when I was told this. “You mean the kids think Christmas is just easy-peasy, Santa magically bringing EVERYTHING, no thank you’s to family members and friends who have generously spent time and money choosing and buying and sending all these presents?” Oui, exactement. Here in France there is no such thing as a thank you card. There’s no need – it was all from rich old Papa Noel. So I persuaded L’Homme to do it my way (otherwise no sex until February) and explained to Tommy what was going on.

“Mais,” said L’Homme “All his friends think the presents under the tree are from Father Christmas. Tommy’s going to blow it for them.”

So, I took a stocking into Tommy’s school last week, for my last English lessons of the term, and I did an English Christmas session with them. I explained the various traditions in England – the carols we sing, the food we eat, the bad jokes and silly hats in crackers – and the stocking thing. The kids were all amazed. “Donc, les enfants anglais ont deux fois les cadeaux? Double cadeaux?” Erm … yes, I suppose they do sort of get more presents. This caused a stir in the class and one bright spark suggested they all put out big socks or pillowcases (I made the mistake of telling them that my brother and I used to put out pillowcases – AND THEY GOT FILLED TO THE BRIM). Panic. These kids are going to be disappointed. So I told them that Tommy is English and therefore it’s the English Father Christmas who comes to see him and that’s why the stocking thing works for him and not for them. Well, Tommy looked very smug and the other children stared at him with envy. “Breaktime!” I announced cheerily, and dashed out the door, only to get cornered in the courtyard and pummelled with questions about how to get British nationality.

It’s half past eleven. Time for bed. I cannot WAIT until tomorrow morning. Roll on Christmas! French, English, whatever!

Damn. I forgot my eyebrows.

PS: Added on the 3rd of January 2012 : having read this post, Sister Two phoned me up to tell me that it ISN’T an English/French thing and that lots of Brit families pretend the prezzies under the tree are from Santa. She reckons it was JUST our family. But in “Spot’s First Christmas” Spot and his Mummy openly wrap present up and place them under the tree, while it’s Santa who comes in the night and fills Spot’s stocking. So what’s going on? What DO English families do at Christmas? and more importantly, who is going to come and share my Christmas pudding with me? – the kids scrunched their noses up at it and L’Homme wouldn’t touch a raisin-packed-thing with a bargepole.