Dec 2011

Dec 25th – Mia is a wacco

Mia, don’t put this in your nose, says papa about the pointy, empty plastic capsule from which we squirted salt water in her nose to flush it out

–         Nose, repeats Mia, pointing the capsule in her nose

–         No, Mia, repeats papa.  It is dirty now; you’ve been playing with it. Don’t put it in your nose

–         Mouth, says Mia

–         No, not in your mouth either

–         Hummm. Dans fesses! She says  [in my butt!!], directing the capsule to her diaper


A few minutes later, she’s sitting at the table and I am struggling to make her eat some fresh tortellini which I bought in an expensive export store.  She’s been playing with it but not eating much (maybe ½ tortellini in 10 min).  She was clearly not hungry but instead trying to test all she could do before getting fired.

–         Mia, you have 2 choices:  you either eat your pasta, or you go play but then you’re done with dinner.  What do you want?

–         Hum.  Banana!  She exclaims.

I had to walk away to burst out laughing


–         Mia, Maman is not happy. You’re taking way too long to eat.  So I am going to count to 3 and if you’re not done then you’ll go to your bedroom. One…

–         Two, three, go!!!  She exclaims, recalling in perfect order what we say outside when we’re racing together.

Maman leaves the room part 2, to burst out laughing some more…


And best is the following – we have a big part of this conversation recorded on video J


Dec 24th Joyeux Noel Email to mamijo & padi


On celebre la nativité chez la soeur de Hemal dont le mari est catholique et marque donc le coup.


Delhi pareil à elle meme: le bordel ambiant, coloré, épicé, corrompu.  Mia s évertue à dire “shhhht” aux rickshaws dont les klaxons ne se calment jamais. Elle s’inquite pour le Sabzi- wallah (le vendeur de légumes avec sa chariotte et son vélo), qui crie “”yeelleeee” en passant devant les appart. Elle signale “sabzi-wallah” et demande “pourquoi il crie?”. Luca voudrait savoir où se dirigent les vaches qui lentement traversent l’entree du parking du shopping mall où Louis Vuitton et Dior viennent de s’implanter.  Le parc Vatika, au bord duquel votre B&B se trouvait et où courraient 2-3 courageux en sandales et pantalon de flanelle, est maintenant le RDV matinal de plusieurs joggeurs équippés de vraies baskets et pantalons de jogging (ca reste un parc dont on fait le tour en 12 min en marchant, donc pas épuisant mais c’est un début). Ils courrent en conversant dans leur telephone portable, doublant des armées de jeunes et grand-meres en séance de marche respiratoire ou yoga. Les familles de jardiniers qui entretiennent le parc ont déménagé à l extremité du parc, à coté de la route, et leurs gamins pied-nus et habillés de chiffons observent à travers la grille les enfants en uniforme qui se dirigent vers l’école qui jouxte le parc. 4 lignes de metros Bombardier sillonnent maintenant la ville, et signe que l’inde est bien en avance sur l’Europe, 2 wagons y sont exclusivement réservés aux femmes. Anand ne peut pas m’y joindre, la classe.


Luca adore sa cousine qu’il utilise pour faire des “sandwichs de mia” (un de chaque coté de la plus petite et on serre fort).  Il profite de sa grand-mere pour se faire lire des histoires de moogli et de la jungle et regarder d’interminables shows de musiques ethniques. Lors de notre promenade a Dilli Haat cet apres-midi, il a achete une flute en bois qui me casse les oreilles depuis 3 heures “je fais de la musique maman. Tu danses oui ou non?”, me demande-t-il, impatient. On visite de vieilles tombes et des chateaux en ruine, mais il veut surtout faire la course. Mia ravie d’avoir sa maman sous la main 24/7, me fais des bisous et des calins toute la journée et veut tout faire toute seule.  Elle a choppé la creve mais Pappu nous a sorti 2 médicaments miracle, surement ayurvediques – on ne veut surtout pas savoir ce que sait. Les enfants mangent meme plusieurs plats locaux tant que ce n’est pas trop épicé, des rotis ou dosas surnommées “indian pizzas”.


Dec 23rd – Look at my finger

Luca has been toilet-trained now for about 6 months. It started as a ‘joint’ exercise where Sophie/me would have to read him stories while he was sitting on the throne. And it has since become increasingly personal. At home, he now wants the door closed and us to go away until he calls for one of us to come in and do the honors. Well, that works at home, where he has a kiddy sized toilet seat to sit on. Today we were at the mall in Vasant Kunj.  After lots of running around and a large meal, Luca tells us his belly hurts. “Caca” I ask? “Yes” he says and off we go looking for a restroom. We find one, I plunk him down on the seat and offer to hold him up, so he doesn’t fall in. “No” he says, “I can hold on without help”. “You’re sure about this? Because I don’t think you really want to run your hands all over the seat in a public restroom. Let me hold you” I propose. “No” he says. And this goes on for a bit. Before we finally settle for a compromise. I will stand in front of him and he will hold my legs to ensure he doesn’t fall into the pot. He holds on and lets his rear end loose. Some noise and a minor explosion follow out the rear end. “Wow” I say and look over his shoulder “No No No” screams a red-faced Luca. “Il ne faut pas regarder” (You can’t look)So I promise not to. But there’s another explosion of sorts – the Indian diet wreaking havoc with his belly.  I am a bit concerned and Luca doesn’t seem convinced that I can hold up my end of the bargain. “You look at my finger” he says, sticking his right index out. “Look at it carefully ok?” he says, moving his finger in a slow circle. “Yes” I say, and do so dutifully, conscious that the little guy is trying to find a moment of privacy on the throne and I am clearly hindering that. I keep my eyes on his finger as requested, and he continues to trace slow circles and zigzags in the air. While he’s doing this, I can hear him multi-tasking – I can hear him grunting with the effort of voiding his back-end. I look up briefly and he has the same puffer-face look I recall from when he was younger and still ok with pooing in a diaper in plain view of his parents. This caca is taking its toll.  After a few more finger circles, Luca decides he need both hands so he can hold on to something and .. you know .. really give it a go. “Now you look at my foot” he says “Ok” I say, and he starts wigging his left foot. I keep my eyes locked on his little wiggling shoe. More grunting ensues. I don’t look up.A sigh and then… “I’m done” he says. And I clean him up. Of course he wants to check out his ‘output’ before hitting the flush. “I’m very proud of you Luca” I tell him as we wash up. “You told me you needed to go, and then you went .. .like a champ” We walk back to the table where everyone else is just finishing up their dinner

“J’ai fait un beau caca”  (I did a beautiful poo) announces Luca to all present. And then he goes back to harassing Mia and Sam.


Dec 22nd Luca races, and competes with a man in Vatika

Since we’ve arrive, Luca has had one obsession:  run faster than everybody.  So we spend our time racing. It’s a bit dangerous at times, especially in the streets of Delhi.  So we tell him to wait till we find a sidewalk, a park or a safe area. He races papa, maman, mia, thatha, sam. Any willing person.

Anand has turned this to a full blackmail tool. To run faster than papa, luca has to eat more and sleep long.  So luca now eats full plates and doesn’t even whine to go to bed.  Because he will run faster than papa tomorrow then.

As for mia, she insists that she is “stronger”, which in her language just means strong I think. “Too heavy” means heavy, “too big” means very big, “Mia too fast” means “Mia runs very fast”.


We headed to Vatika today, a fairly large park where the kids can easily run.  We chose a patch a grass, well maintained. A 35-year old gentleman was working out there.  In the last 3 years, the level of physical activity in the park has visibly increased.  When Anand and I used to come 3-4 years ago, we used to see a lot of people walking and 1-2 guys running around with gear barely fit for a walk – loose pants, some sandals or light walking shoes at best (converse-like), a had and gloves. Nowdays, there are 4-5 runners, fully equipped in running shoes and matching running pants and top.  Some of them run at a good, regular pace with a light step. The dude we came up to was one of those well-trained men, quite fit and about to start a 45-min exercise session.

We ran back and forth for a while, from bench to tree to patti or thatha. The kids were having a good time. Then they saw that guy running back and forth in a 30-meter band.  He was practicing laps and would do jumps or push ups in between.  Luca ran along side him for a lap. The man was smiling. He started his push ups and both mia and luca, dutyfully trained in park monceau, got down on their knees and started up count their own push ups (mia’s account for a doggy-style yoga position, where she moves her but front to back to front).  One, two, three, five, seven, eight.  The man lost it.  He laughed in the middle of his set.  He stood up and started jumps. My kids, unimpressed, started the same.  And counted it for him.  He took off for another running lap and Luca followed him. 1, 2, 3, go he’d say and run as fast as he could. After a while, the guy turned to me and asked “how old are they?”.  He looked half curious, half worried that such little ones had solid stamina to go through a few laps with him.


Dec 21st mia d provokes parents

I thought I’dtake her to the doc to check her ears today.  She keeps putting her fingers in them. I was wondering this morning, but now I think it might be a game.  She blocks both ears with her fingers and walks around. This morning she insisted she wanted to eat on her own (everything’s got to be done “mia toute seule”, meaning on her own).  She had an unpeeled clementine in front of her.  The peeling was laborious, with fingers going through the clementine. I tried to help her out and she got upset “non, mia toute seule” but I couldn’t put back the skin so she got upset and squeezed the hell out of her clementine. Mia, this is a betise, I said.  You need to…. I looked at her and she was blocking her ears with her 2 fingers, watching me with a smile…  She’s not even 2 years old, is she really already up to that level of parental provocation????…..


I put her down to bed that night, she was exhausted

–         A cat, maman!  Says Mia, pointing to the end of her bed.

–         Where?  I cant see a cat?

–         A cat!  Regarde, a cat!  (look, a cat)

I look hard and long. There’s a shape behind Mia’s plastic bed wall, which looks like 2 pointy ears.


Dec 20th .  Luca is planning to torture his sister, and considers death

–         Can I cut Mia?  Asks luca, pointing at a knife

–         Certainly not, that would be a big betise

–         I will put a knife in her mouth

–         How, no, you’re certainly not doing that

–         I will cut her hand

–         Luca, if you hurt Mia like that, she could die

–         Je vais la prendre, la écraser, la taper, la faire tomber, la piquer  (I will take her, crush her, hit her, push her down, poke her)

–         And what will she say ?

–         Aie

–         I think she will be very hurt and maybe dead

–         [blank]


As we stroll around D7, Luca points to a dead pigeon on the street, his belly wide open after he’s been hit badly by a car

–         Why is he sleeping?

–         He’s not sleeping, he’s dead luca.  He was not watching where he was going, he was walking on the street and a car came and hit him.

–         He will wake up?

–         No, he is dead

–         Like Mufasa (the Lion King’s father in Walt Disney)

–         Yes, like Mufasa.  He was hit and he is dead now.  That’s why you have to be very careful when you cross roads


He looks around “Why are there no sidewalks here?”, he asks. As we cross the next street, mia stops right away. 

–         “No green”, she points out. 

–         I know sweetheart, but in India there aren’t always green and red men. 

Mia wait, she confirms

It’s funny because back in Paris, she’s been very careful about crossing at the green too. To the point where if the man turn red as we are crossing the road, she’ll drop my hand and run back to the sidewalk.  And confirm “betise, maman”…


Dec 19th  Mia hears the sabzi walha

Mia hears the sabzi walha carry his chariot of veggies down the street from the apartment and scream a “yeeeeh!!” to be heard. 

–         Pourquoi il crie? [why does he scream?]

–         He is calling for people who want to buy vegetables

–         Pourquoi il crie? She repeats, unclear about my explanation

–         He is a man who is trucking some veggies if you want some.  Do you want some carrots?

–         Pourquoi il crie? She repeats, still confused

–         Well, he says “sabzi and bananas”, “sabzi and bananas”!! 

–         Sabzi and bananas?

–         Yes!!! “sabzi and bananas” I repeat, delighted that she finaly understood my point

–         “sabzi and bananas”?  “sabzi and bananas” ?

–         Yes, he is the sabzi walha

–         Sabzi walha?


As we stroll around D7 together, Mia sees the cart of veggies. 

–         Look, I say, this is the sabzi walha with his cart of veggies

–         Sabzi and bananas? She says to the man, pointing at him and his cart


Dec 18th another trip to India

This is our 5th long plane trip with the kids. And we’re starting to know the drill:  Luca spends the better part of the prior week talking about his trip.  He tells it from beginning to end, in a linear fashion, describing all the bits he remembers – we’ll go in a taxi, we’ll give our bags to the lady, we’ll put our hands up (security), etc.

The day before we leave, Luca packs a backpack.  He got it for his birthday from Farida but it had stayed at school till now with a change of clothes.  So we got it back for the vacation. When I came back home from work, Luca had packed up his back.  He told Anand “I’m going to pack my bag.  Not like Tchoupi (a book he has where a bear called Tchoupi stuffs his bag for the vacation with too many toys which cant fit in)”.  within 15 minutes, Luca had packed his bag closed.  To his papa’s delight, the backpack was perfectly, orderly packed up.  Books in the main compartements, cars in the front pocket.  Sleek and zipped up.

Here comes the day.  We wake up the kids and they eat their breakfast at light speed. There is no whining, so screaming, just 2 very cooperative children. And the routine goes:  we check in, then we head to the window with the best view on planes. Mia points to “luca plane”, then sees another plane “maman plane”.  Within 5 min of walking we each have our own plane. Cool.

In the plane, Luca watches movie after movie. Or rather, he watches the smurfs, and the smurfs, and the smurfs.  As he gets to know the movie better (re-watched the first part3 times), his laughs get increasingly loud, both at the joke and at the anticipation of the joke. One of the smurfs gets to eat some soap and says “beurk”, which cracks Luca up almost to tears.  The whole plane would know the scene was coming up.

Meanwhile, Mia doesn’t sleep. We had a 6-hour flight to Abu Dabhi, a 4-hour layover and another 4-hour flight to New Delhi.  She didn’t sleep the whole time and entertained herself quite well with every potential object or person in sight. As we passed the last door to exit Delhi’s airport, Mia finally crashed on my chest, exhausted from this 18-hour trip door to door.

Coming out of the plane in Abu Dhabi, luca looked at the plane. “A plane is like a pigeon, he said.  It can fly”.

–         Yes, you’re right. Can it flap its wing like a pigeon?

–         Nooooo!  He says, laughing.  I want to fly too.  Can I fly

–         How would you fly?

–         I will take the wings of a pigeon

–         And how will the pigeon fly?

–         He will take the wings of the plane

–         Can he flap the wings of the plane?

–         [blank]

–         Are the wings of the plane too big for the pigeon?

–         Yes… he said after some hesitation

–         Then how will he fly?

–         I can carry him in my arms


Dec 14th « Tu te souviens pas ? »

–         Luca, which one is your toothbrush ? asks Anand, handing a yellow and a green toothbrush

–         C’est la jaune.  Je te l’ai deja dit. Je t’ai déjà dit avant.  Tu te souviens?  (it’s the yellow one, I’ve already told you before.  You don’t remember?)

–         Tu me l’as deja dit?  Tu m’as déjà dit quoi ?

–         Tu te souviens ?, Luca asks again, with his arms open and his palms up, insistant.  Tu te souviens pas? J’ai déjà dit avant.   (you remember ? you remember ?  i told you before)

Papa looks like he doesnt remember.

–         La brosse à dents de luca elle est jaune, explains Luca diligently


Dec 14th Mia cooks her first cake for real

For the past few months, since we started making cake together and after the prior experiment, Mia had been stuck with mixing her own, small bowl with a selection of ingredients which I knew she would have fully eaten by the end of the dough preparation.

But we needed to make a cake for school, on top of our regular weekly one.  So Mia got tasked with her own cake to make, working in parallel to Luca.  And I have to report it worked quite well – while they both certainly eat a good 3-4 spoonful of raw dough, they left enough to make 2 tasty yogurt cakes.


Dec 13th Maman gets punished

I left to the US for work for a week. I hadn’t left home for more than 1 year without the kids. I came back at 6:30pm and expected to hear some feet running on the wood floor and saying “maman, maman”.  Instead, I was ignored for the main part of the evening. I guess this is their nice way of saying that they’d rather have mumy stay home.  


Dec 11th Mia and Luca know their alphabet

Since we bought letter magnets for the fridge, Mia, and Luca to a lesser extent, have been learning their alphabet.  Luca is less interested but loves teasing her sister about it. So here we go:

A for anand or apple, B for Baby or bird, C for Claire, D doudou, E Etienne or Elephant, F Fahuda (Mia’s pronouciation of Farida the nanny), G Gaurav, H nothing, I India, J nothing, K kangoroo, L Luca, M maman and mia, N Nara, O olive, P papa or parking, Q queen, R renard, S Sophie, T turtle and thatha, U nothing, V Velo, WXY nothing, Z zoo.


Dec 5th Je t’aime à la folie

–         Maman, maman, says Luca.  Je t’aime beaucoup.  Je t’aime à la folie!

–         Moi aussi  à-la-folie, says Mia


Dec 3rd Mia throws “tennis”

We played tennis with balls for kids in Grancey.  Since then, when Mia throws a ball, she says “tennis!”


Dec 2nd Santa Claus comes

The kids had dinner (pizza and ice-cream, of course), brushed their teeths and were playing in their bedroom when….  Oh, said tonton Etienne, Santa Claus came.  Santa Claus brought some cool gifts: Tchoupi books, puzzles, umbrella, playmobile, and 2 trotinettes matched with helmet and elbow protections. My comments will fit in 2 sentences:  it was hard to put them to bed. For the following week my kids only ‘walked’ in the house on trotinette, equipped with helmet, backpack and elbow protection.


Dec 1st Preparing for Santa Claus

With our trip to India planned for the last 2 weeks of December, we celebrated Xmas ahead of time.  That took a bit of explaining to Luca: “We’re going to India, there’s no santa claus in India (Oh, why, he’d ask?  Children in India don’t get gifts?).  Well, they have gifts over Dewali. But the rain deer doenst come all the way to india.  So he knows you’re going to India and he might come this weekend instead”.   Luca looked a bit puzzled but accepted an early arrival of Santa Claus


A few days ago, with Amazon packages pilling up in the dining room (we should have at least taken them out of sight in the office), Luca asked if this was Santa Claus.  Amazon = Santa Claus, virtual Santa Claus at its best…


Anand is going to have a hard time going forward.  He leveraged a direct line to Santa Claus to report any wrongdoing or whining from the kids, who were half horrified at the idea. With Santa Claus 15 days early, we’ll have to use another lever for blackmail.


We’ve decorated the room a bit, we’re ready


Oct-Nov 2011

Nov 20 Luca tells the story of the airplane

We’re walking around on a weekend and I ask Luca what he’s doing for his next vacation

–         I’m going to Delhi

–         Ah, and how are you going there?

–         In a plane

–         Oh.  And how do you take a plane?

Off he goes, launching into a full blown monolog:

–         I’m going to take the taxi.  Then we’ll go to the house of airplane.  We’ll pay to give our backpacks.  We’ll raise our arms up (his version of “go through security”).  We’ll walk to the plane.  We’ll go in the plane.  The plane will go up and then…. We’ll watch a movie.  We’ll eat in the plane. The plane will go down. And then it will not be home yet.  So we’ll go in another airplane (he knows that we didn’t get a direct flight and have a connection in abbu dabi).


Nov 18 The 7 Darfs:  tu les connais?

Luca came back from his theatre class saying he did « dormeur » (sleepy).

–         Ah, and what else did you do?

–         Hummm.  Timide (shy)

So I figured he’d been mimicking the 7 dwarfs.

–         Ah, and did you also do grincheux (grumpy)?  I ask

–         Yes

–         And prof?

–         Yes

–         And Joyeux? (happy)

–         Yes

After a while, he turns to me and asks:

–         Tu les connais?

–         Well, I’ve read the story about them

–         Tu les connais?

–         I’ve read the book of their story

That all looked very confusing to him so we headed to the store to get the book of White Snow.  Unfortunately, the 7 dwarfs are just briefly mentioned, and not by name.  So we my have to go for another version or for the full cartoon….


Nov 14: No big deal

Mia’s vocabulary has grown exponentially, with all the things she needs.

To eat, with her all time favourites:  pizza, chocolate, candy, ice-cream, cheese, olives. Second best: yogurt, jam, bread, cookie.  Tolerated: Sun soup (a veggy soup they love), chicken. Or the unpractical:  no dal, no brocoli

To cure: Mia bobo. Mal.  Luca tape.  Pas grave, no big deal (pronounced no bi di-a-o)

Doctor:  no doctor, no kine

She accumulates words, mostly descriptive and judgemental:

–         Mia, are you congested?

–         She stares at me.

–         Tetine stuck.  Mia bêtise, she says

–         No, it’s not a bêtise.  It just slipped away while you were sleeping.

–         Tetine stuck. Pas grave, no big deal.


Tonight Luca and Mia where playing train with Anand. There was a complex set up where the beginning of the train track had been lifted up a few inches to provide a launching ramp.  The goad was to launch your own wagon so it’d go as far as possible.  2 rounds each. 

The rules looked simple enough, Anand was very excited. That was without counting on the reality of a 20-month and 3-year old.  Mia, while very comfortable in her body and flexible, is still quite big. So when we play train, she unmistakably derails some tracks as she moves around them. Luca patiently repairs once or twice, but then looses his cold and pushes her away. At which point she cries and comes to mummy for help.  Nothing new here…

But with papa around, the dynamics were a bit different.  Mia would purposely break a few tracks, turn to luca and say “oh, broken, pas grave, no big deal”. At which point she’d move around her arms and say “allez, ramassez!!”.

Papa and Luca would patiently repair the track and start the race.  Papa’s turn, Luca’s turn.  Papa’s turn, Luca’s turn. Papa happens to win and say “I win”. Luca says “I win”.  Papa is buffled “no, I win”.  “I win too”, said luca.  To him, it’s like saying “I’m done and did it well”. 


Nov 10 Luca and Mia receive racing tshirts

Alice, our distant cousin, returned from Mauricius island and brought back a tshirt for each kid, with a dodo (Mauricius’ extinct ostriech).  Luca’s been wearing it proudly for the last 24 hours and he says it makes him run faster. « Tu viens, mia, on fait la course? », he asks. And they run through the house until they’re sweating and puffing.


Nov 9 Feet off of the table

“Mia, take your feet off of the table.  You know that”

Mia stares at me and waits.

I count: “Mia one, two,… “

She slowly takes her foot off of the table and stops the toes right on the edge of it.

–         Mia, I said take  your feet off of hte table

–         Off she says

–         No, that’s not off. Your feet need to be under the table.

I take her feet and bring them under the table.  She slowly brings the toes back up, without touching the table, 3 cm below the table top. I don’t say anything.  She brings them closer to the stop.  Still staring at me straight in the eyes. I change my communication from “off of the table”, to “Mia, you have to put your feet UNDER the table. Now”

She stares at me, and doesn’t move. 

–         I said UNDER the table, I repeat

“No table foot”, she says, which is her way of saying “my feet are not on the table”

–         I said UNDER the table….

At that point, Luca thinks it’s a good idea to put his foot on the table.  I get upset they see it and stop. Feet back under the table

–         Je t’aime maman, she ends.

–         Je t’aiiiiimmme maman, he adds.


Nov 8  We get ready for Xmas

This year, Christmas is becoming a big deal for the kids.  Luca’s being talking about it.  So we had a Christmas preparation weekend.  We got the Xmas decorations from storage and got our living room ready:  balls in my half-dying plant which probably doesn’t need additional heavy weigths, and a garland of lights which we made together.

Luca walked back a few steps, said “c’est prêt” (it’s ready) and walked back towards the plant. He looked by the trunk and around the plant pot.  “ils sont ou, les cadeaux?”  (where are the gifts?)


Nov 6 Moi aussi je t’aime

I scold Mia : « you cant through your spoon on the ground. That’s a bêtise.  If you do it again you get a time out”

Luca says “moi je t’aime maman”

Mia overbids « moi aussi je t’aiiiiimmmme maman »


Nov 3 Heading to school – t’inquiete pas, je reviens

Luca needs 45 min to get ready to school.  I wake him up at 730am, making as little noise as possible so Mia doesn’t wake up.  It works 90% of the time. I sneak him out of bed, take him in my arms and carry him to the kitchen.  He turns on the lights, usually smiles and drinks his bottle. Everything after that is terribly slow.  I help him dress up and he eats a bowl of cereal – Country Store muesli or corn flakes, or one of the cakes we typically make together on weekends.

We quickly brush teeth and hair, cream up his dry face, snap on shoes and bundle up in the coat and off he goes, ready to get to school with his nanny [he doesn’t cry when he goes with her and cries when he’s with me, so I have assumed it’s easier for him to go without me]  “Je veux un bisou calin” he asks (I want a kiss and hug). Of course, I say, and we give each other a warm hug and calin

And then he adds “t’inquiete pas, maman.  Je vais revenir.  Je reviens ce soir”.  I check with him that « Really, you’re coming back tonight ? ».  He looks at his nanny and asks “je reviens ce soir?” She smiles and confirms, so he turns to me “t’inquiete pas.  Je reviens a la maison ce soir.  Bye”.


As for Mia, she’s got no pb leaving her mum. As I head to work, she says “bisou calin.  Bye.  Good luck. A t’a l’heure” (kiss hug.  Bye.  See you later).  If I show up in the typical nanny time, she gives me a big smile, a hug and kiss.  And then sometimes say – “no maman, maman cravaille” (maman works) and pushes me away with her hand.  Fascinating how different they are.


Nov 1 Mia is an adorable girl in her terrible 2s

Mia has clearly entered the terrible 2s.  Only papa hasn’t figured that out yet.

She spilled her cornflakes all over the floor this morning and got a time out for it.  Tonight, she spilled her stickers all over the floor.  Like 500 stickers spread all over the carpet under her play table.  I ordered she picked it up.  She looked at me, and with the same gesture Luca used to have at the same age (her arm stretched out, up by the chin), asked “help maman”.  I categorically refused and said with authority “you made the mess, you clean up”.  She cried, tried to negotiate again “maman help, maman help”.  And after a tough negotiation, she started to take it all herself. But she would do it so slowly….  I had to give up, and help the little chick with encouragement “you’re doing well sweet pea.  Try to pick them up faster now….


In the morning, she gets her bottle of milk and then a choice of cereal.  Her favorites: either Weetabix (with a M for Maman, as she flips the box upside down), and chocolate cereal (mostly for the chocolate, not so much for the corn flakes).  Once I tried to take one of her corn flakes and she said: “arrete!  C’est à Mia.  Pas le droit” (stop, this is Mia’s.  Cant do that). Now the “arrete” and “pas le droit” are clearly expressions she learned from luca or in the playground. It’s very cute when it comes from the mouth of a 20-year old, because she’s been told what she does that’s right and wrong and she’s now telling the others about what they do to her that’s right and wrong.


Mia is very picky about certain things, mostly to see if she can get away with things. Here’s 2 examples.


The doudou

Mia selected one of the many stuffed animal for her “dodo”.  Now, for most of them, I had 2-3 copies, or I had written down the store that the stuffed animal came from so I could buy a few backups when she’d have chosen.  There’s one that I’m clueless about, and that’s the one she chose.  I don’t know where it come from nor who could have offered it to her.  And I’m typically pretty good about these things.

So I looked online for the “doudou brioche, by Beryl”. Cant find it. I suspect it’s a free doudou that the shoe store Beryl gave away to kids for a while.  Cant buy it.  I found 2 on ebay and made a big surprise out of it.  She took one, looked at it, very confused.  Ran to get her doudou, compared the 2.  Threw away the new one. Same with the other new one. Even in her sleep she cant get fooled. I put all 3 of them in the wash at the same time so they’d smell the same. But to no avail. She immediately rubs the ears and figures out that the new doudou’s ears are too soft… I’ve been putting the doudous in the wash many times now to wear them out, and stuff them in Mia’s sleeping bag at night so they get the smelly feet smell, but it hasn’t worked yet.  She keep throwing them away, rejected to the edge of the abyss.


The spoons

I gave her a spoon to eat, but it was a flat handle which she refuses to use (go figure…). So I gave her another one and she wanted to keep both.  After a bit of explaning, I took the flat handle spoon away.  She disagreed and poured some of her soup on the table.  She ended up in time out.  As she came back in the kitchen, Luca made a point of saying “je t’aime maman”, making it to the 3-star brown-noser list.  Mia walked in front of me and said “Moi aussi je t’aime”.  (I love you too).  20 months, and a beautiful aggregation of words.


Oct 25th  Playing with the vacuum cleaner

Luca and Mia both love “vacuuming” the kitchen floor. They turn on the vacuum and walk around.  Mia hasn’t figured out how to make it turn so she goes straight, till it bumps into some obstacle, and calls for help. The movement of back and forth is clearly not easy for her.  Sometimes when I vacuum myself, she wants to help out.  By the time I stretch out my arm and bring it back towards myself, she’s had to make 3-4 steps forward and back.  So she gets dizzy quickly and gives up


Oct 18th  Luca gets glasses

We’re walking in the 17th district on the side walk, heading to the ophthalmologist.  Luca and myself are talking and at some point he turns back, points to a boy and says:  c’est Martin!

I ask him “do you know this boy”? 

–         Oui, c’est martin

I turn to the mum and ask her if her son’s name is Martin.  She says it is…  I’ve never seen her before, nor her boy or her little girl.  Martin is about 3 years old, Luca’s age.  We try to figure it out:  from the theater, from the school, playground?  But she leaves in the 17th, never comes to the 8th arrondissement.


I turn to Luca again:  Where do you know him from?  School?

–         No, de la maison (from home)

–         From home?  Has he played with you at home? 

–         Oui, regarde, c’est le meme!  (it’s the same)


At which point I realize that he was not pointing to the boy but to the truck, Marter, from the Car’s cartoon….  It was just a coincidence that the boy’s name happened to be the same as the car…


We get to the ophthalmologist.  As part of the diagnostic, Luca has to tell what objects are being projected on the wall.  Bike, Cat (which he calls a boot, I’m not sure why).  As it gets smaller and small, the objects he used to recognise perfectly as houses or bikes become “bees” or “lady bug”, basically small black points on the wall. The little boy is astigmatic and hypermetric.


So we head out to the optician to select a pair of glasses. On the way he insists “c’est moi qui choisi.  C’est moi qui regarde, comme maman”  (I chose.  I’ll pick up the glasses, as maman did for her pair). He thinks this is cool – he wants to try them all.  He doesn’t even put them well on his head nor looks at himself in the mirror.  What interests him is to grab a pair on the wall, take it, put it on even if not properly set on the nose, and put them back.

After a while, I ask him

–         Which ones do you prefer ?

–         Il faut que je regarde plus (i’ve got to look at more)

He tries on a pair and I ask him

–         Look at yourself in the mirror here. Do you like them?  Are they comfortable?

He replies: “too simple”.  Takes them off and drops them on the little counter next to him with disdain as he moves towards the next pair to try….


Oct 15 First time they want to see the bby sitter Alix

J’avais prévenu luca et mia que ce serait peut-etre toi qui viendrait ce soir t’occuper d’eux.  Quand je suis rentrée à 19h, ils étaient decus de me voir

–         Luca : Elle est ou Alix ?

–         Maman : Elle est malade, la pauvre Alix

–         Ah.  Moi je voulais voir Alix.  Elle va venir jouer ?

–         Elle aussi elle voulait venir jouer avec vous.  Mais elle est malade et elle est dans son lit

–         Ah.  Elle prend du Doliprane ?  Avec la pipette ?

–         Elle a probablement pris du doliprane, effectivement

–         Moi je voulais voir Alix.  Pourquoi elle est pas venue ??

–         Parce qu’elle est malade.  Tu veux qu’on l’appelle bientôt pour qu’elle vienne jouer avec toi ?

–         Oui.  Je vais lui montrer encore le train


Oct 3rd – Maman and papa are working for a lot of houses

–      Pourquoi maman cravaille?  (why does maman work?)

–      I work so I can have money to pay for a house

Luca looks at me, thinks we already have a house

–      Maman elle cravaille pour une autre maison?  (maman works for another house?)

–      No, I work to pay for this house

He looks at me suspiciously.  Clearly, we already have this house, don’t we?

–      Maman elle cravaille pour avoir beaucoup d’autres maisons? Beaucoup ?  (maman works to have many more houses?  Many?)


4pm.  The kids wake up.  I kiss them and go to work in the office.

After a while, I swing back in their bedroom to ask Farida a question.  Mia starts crying, points at me and says “noooo…..”.  It looks like there’s something very sad going on

–      What’s going on Mia?

–      No……

–      What’s going on?

–      Pas maman.  Maman cravaille!  (no maman. Maman at work!)

I disappear, she stops immediately.  Clearly, there are some rules, and when maman is supposed to be working she’s got nothing to do here in the bedroom.


Sept 29th  A playful morning at home

I just underwent surgery 2 weeks ago and can’t walk the kids to the park (it’s a good 5 min walk away…).  So we stayed home this Saturday morning.  They were super nice throughout the morning program:

We drew some cool drawings. Mia loves drawing the contours of her hands, and then she adds other randoms colour on them.  She asked that I add a sun and a duck to her picture and then added many stickers all over the page. I’ve tried to help her out, but she wants to do it on her own.  Honestly, it’d be hard to arrange the stickers in such a random manner – stickers on top of each other, no coordination.

Luca is starting to be interested in drawing things he knows:  men, flowers, houses, trees. This is not so much what he wants to draw, but more things I can handle and show him. He asked for a motorcycle the other day and concluded “this is not a motorcycle maman”. To help him learn, I draw on my own sheet of paper and show him.  Clearly, I’m no artist but for a 3 year old, my over-simple pictures are good enough. He tries to copy


Sept 15th Playing with letters


Autre tare heritée des wehr – Luca est astigmate.  L’ophtalmo lui montre une fleur sur un mur, assez grosse.  Luca déclare :  fleur. On lui montre un plus petit poisson .  « Abeille », dit Luca.  Regarde bien, tu vois quoi ? « Abeille.  Bzzzz, pique », explique t il pour etre sur qu’on l’ait bien compris. On lui montre une petite fleur, plus petite que la premiere. « Mouche ».  on le fait répéter, et il décrit, confiant, une « mouche ».  Le petiot voit donc une tache noire, alors que c’est une jolie fleur.  On est reparti avec une prescription pour des lunettes…  pauvre gamin.  Ca ne l’empeche pas de faire de beaux dessins, avec des bonhommes dont les bras commencent à descendre de leur implantation originale sur la tete à un départ depuis le bidon. Il leur implante des boules pour les genoux dignes des articulations protubérantes de son père à 10 ans en Inde.  Mia a un caractere bien trempé et est décidée à faire toute seule et comme son frere.  Elle raconte à tout le monde qu’elle a 2 ans et le montre avec ses doigts  (pas vrai, c’est pas avant fin janvier…).  Lui s’interesse aux lettres et s’amuse avec les lettres magnétiques sur le frigo – M de maman et Mia, L de luca, R de ratatouille, F de Farida la nounou et de Flash McQueen la voiture, N de nounou. P de papa et parking.  T de tortue. C’est son monde et ca l’amuse. Mia répète tout et du coup connait ses lettres aussi. Lui écrit son nom, pendant qu’elle fait des gribouillage sur mon lit et s’exclame fierement « t’as vu, t’as vu ? » (arghhh, les draps tout neufs…  on a bien expliqué que c’était une betise, mais je connais la suite : elle va re-tester, peut etre avec un autre crayon ou sur un autre drap, et prendra qques minutes au coin, ce qu’elle déteste).  Luca est qd meme decu que maman ait 2 lettres (M de maman et S de Sophie), Papa aussi, alors que lui n’en a qu’une (L).  Sauf que Sara lui a expliqué qu’il en a 4 (LUCA) ce qui l’a ravi. Quand je suis allée le lever ce matin, il était clair et tres fier « moi j’ai 4 lettres ».  Fabuleux.  Quand on a le temps, on s’essaie au gateau au yaourt d’Agnes.  En fonction des ingrédients que les enfants mangent pdt la fabrication, le résultat varie de mangeable à très contestable.


Sept 15th – we get a package from Guchi & Alex

Luca is still not thrilled about going to school in the morning. In the last 2 weeks, we’ve made a deal: he gets a gift (a car from Pixar’s Cars) from Alegra every time he doesn’t cry when I leave him at school. I put the car in the pocket of his jacket.  So he thinks Alegra is the best friend in the world now. Now, I still have 1 car in my hands out of the 4 that Alex & Guchi sent, which means Luca has cried most times going to school, except for a total of 3 mornings in 4 weeks….

Mia was a sweetheart this morning and got a gift from “Alegra and Ema” – a pink purse which she has been carrying around, stuffed with magnet letters she picks up on the fridge.  Then she went to look in my purse to pick up a few things: tissues, a hair clip and a pen.  She jammed them up in there and ran back to me saying “comme maman”… (like mummy). So cute.


Sept 10th   Papabuddi

The kids rush in the office, jump on the futon and sit up.  Mia says “cravaille” (I’m working). Luca adds “comme papa”. They looked at each other and started a giant tickle fight.


I fire up the computer to check the receipe for a cake I promised Luca we’d cook together. Luca comes by and he says “je peux appuyer sur le bouton qui cravaille ? » (Can I press on the botton that works ?)


In the evening, as we’re eating the cake for dessert, mia talks a few words I dont understand.  “papa budi”. 

–      What does she say? Luca asks

–      I don’t understand.  Mia, what do you say?

–      Papa budi

–      She says papa budi? 

–      Yes

–      What does it mean?

–      Nothing

–      Si.  C’est le monsieur dans le livre du lion

–      Le panchatantra ?

–      Oui.  [pause]  c’est le monsieur en rouge ou en violet?

Whao.  It’s slowly coming back to me.  In the panchatantra book, there’s a story about Papabuddi and Dharmabuddi, 2 men, who come back from the market.  They burry their money below a tree to pick it up later.  Papabuddi comes back first and steals the money.  It goes on. We’ve read that story once, maybe twice, and always fast because I wasn’t sure luca understood. He had never asked any question about that story.  After diner, with hands clean and teeth brushed, we opened up the panchatantra on that story.  To my amazement, Papabuddi has a red kurta and dharma buddi is wearing a purple one.

Starting off school – Sept 2011

Sept 9th Rude Aunt Mathilde

Mia was walking back from the park with Farida and Luca.  Here comes a beautiful bride, dressed up for the photos

“Mathilde!”, says Mia pointing to the bride [Mathilde and Etienne just got married in July this year and Mia saw her first bride – after Tatiana when she was 6 months old].  Mathilde, rude as always, doesn’t even say hello. “Mathilde”, repeats Mia, pointing to the bride. “Mathilde!  [pause]  coucou, Mathilde”?


Sept 8th tough going to school

Luca’s been crying every day going to school.  “Je veux pas aller à l’école” (I dont want to go to school).  Half hour after I put him in bed last night he was crying his eyes out, sweating « Je veux pas aller à l’école ».  So I explained – “every boy and girl his age has to go to school, and most of them love it, blah, blah blah.  Plus, if you cry in the morning when I drop you off, I wont play with you tonight”. He fell asleep, mostly cheered up by his sister who was trying to make him laugh by putting her doudou on her head and making funny sounds.


Getting started in the morning is always a enormous task to overcome for the little guy – blame papa’s genes.  So I wake him up 45 min before departure time. He started his crying face about 15 times in that interval – didn’t want to eat his cereal, didn’t want to put his shoes on, didn’t to put his coat on, didn’t want to get in the elevator, etc, etc, etc. He even got punished with a time out in the bathroom and a threat to stay there all day if he continued to complain.


We finally made our way up to the classroom. He started to cry again, and I repeated the deal again “If you don’t cry, I’ll play with you tonight”. I needed to put a sticker around his neck, the one every boy and girl wears the first few weeks of school till the teachers remember the kids’ names. For Luca, wearing that sticker is symbolically assimilated to getting handcuffed. He fights it off. I repeated the deal we had stricken and I could see him trying to swallow his cries. He got a grip on himself, we sat to read a story with 5 other kids. They all had a good time. And I stood up to leave.  He started to cry and followed me to the door.  I repeated: “If you don’t cry, I’ll play with you tonight”. He was struggling really hard to accept his mum’s departure and he said “mais j’ai pas pleuré pour le sticker…   [sniffs].  Tu pourras jouer avec moi [tears]?” (I didn’t cry for the sticker.  You’ll play with me?)


Sept 7th – Mia stays with HER nounou

Mia’s learning the good life.

–      Where is luca?

–      Uca Ecole (Uca at school)

–      And Mia?

–      Mia nounou! She says with a huge smile.

She’s adorable. She’s been putting on hair clips and she walks around saying “Belle ma fille” (my pretty daughter) repeating what I told her the other day. 

Then she tries to jump off of a book she put on the floor.  “Ga’de, ga’de” which is her way of saying “regarde” (look). I was busy with something else so to get my full attention she said, loud :  “EEEga’de, EEEEga’de maman!!”.


September 6th Mia eats her cake, one ingredient at a time

So tonight we’re making a yogurt cake. Both kids are sitting at the kitchen table, with a bowl each in front of them and their aprons tightly tied.

I give Luca a yogurt, and Mia a yogurt.  We add yeast.  By then, Mia has already eaten 3 spoons of her yogurt.  With yeast which she finds weird. We add flower, sugar.  Mia has eater another 2 spoons of yogurt + flower.  I reduce the proportion of ingredients I give her, down to a mini spoon each so she doesn’t feel left out. 
Lesson learned – next time, I should probably not make them cook right before dinner time…


September 5th Luca’s first day in school

We’d been talking about it for while – Luca is a big boy, he’s potty trained, he can put on his shoes on his own, he’s ready to … go to school. 


We had blackmailed him wholesale for the last few months “if you don’t eat your dinner on your own/brush your teeth/go on the bathroom/put on your shoes/etc, you cant go to school in September”. 


Of course there was some angst mixed to the excitement about the experience –  maman, il y a beaucoup d’enfants à l’école (are they lots of children in class)?  On ‘cravaille’ beaucoup (we work a lot in school)?  C’est qui ‘une maitresse’ (who is “a teacher”)? On fait des gommettes a l’école (can we play with stickers at school) ?


We prepped him up, explained that Mia was too young to go to school, boosted his morale up.  To the point where he’d walk up to unknown people and say with pride “moi je vais aller à l’ECOLE” (I’m going to school soon), as if school was this guarded treasure he had earned privileged access too.  We got him new shoes for school, a backpack. I was very proud and thought  – what great parents we are, he’s going to be excited about school.


Last night, the little guy was all over the place – didn’t want to eat his food, splashed water around the bathroom, ran away when was time to read a story.  And I said with all my parental force “if you don’t eat/behave/listen/shut up/brush your teeth/etc, you won’t go to school tomorrow”.  Once finally in bed, he said

–      Je veux pas aller à l’école (I don’t want to go to school tomorrow)

–      Quoi (What)??????

–      Moi je vais pas à l’école demain.  Je joue à la maison  (I dont want to go to school tomorrow. I want to play at home)

–      Mais tu n’as pas ENVIE d’aller à l’école ?  Tu as un nouveau sac à dos pour l’école !! (But dont you WANT to go to school?  you’ve got a new backpack)

–      Le sac il est dans mon lit.  Je vais pleurer à l’école (the backpack is in my bed. I’m going to cry at school) ?

–      C’est pas grave si tu veux pleurer.  D’autres enfants vont pleurer aussi (it’s OK if you need to cry. Other kids will cry too)

–      Je vais pas aller à l’école (I don’t want to go to school)


Call me naive, I was unprepared for that and had no plan B.  


This morning, he dragged his feet.  Mia was watching her brother –  “Uca Ecole”  (Uca school). She clearly understood what this meant –  staying on her own with all the nanny’s attention, a dream come true.  Ecole is good J


Luca and I headed to school, around the block, talking about the games he might play in school.  We hiked up the 3 floors (Jesus, why do they put the youngest kids on the very top?? Beats me). We first hit the bathroom, so the little guy would know how to take care of the basics.  As we entered the classroom, his fingers were clawed on my jeans.  He hid behind me as the teacher Catherine greeted him.  We worked our way to the games with difficulty and he started to enjoy himself – puzzles, dolls.  Over time, the kids next to us would start crying as their parents left but would stop shortly after.  Luca would walk to a few of them and bravely say “faut pas pleurer (don’t cry)”. As I was ready to leave, most parents were gone and the classroom was in peace.


“Bye Luca, have fun, mama will pick you up for lunch”


Luca started to cry (“more like a scream”, as the teacher pointed out), and embarked 80% of the children with him- bringing down hell in the classroom. Now that’s true leadership. Clearly, that kid has a bright future as a leader – he displays integrity (faithful to his mum), vision (“don’t leave my mum”) and an ability to bring his team along. 


By the time I had closed the door, 20 children were crying and screaming. I ran out and left the mess to the teacher…


I picked him up for lunch, he was totally fine and had probably cried for 3 min until he stopped, overwhelmed by the scary sounds of 20 crying children.  All he said, disappointed, “we didn’t go to play in the park”


I put him to bed for his nap after lunch and he threw a final attempt at distressing his mum  “et si vous venez pas me chercher?” (what if nobody picks me up?).    Who says kids live stress-free???


September 3rd  Luca and Mia spin

Mia started to dance and she turns around on herself till she falls on the floor.  She loves it and repeats.  She surprisingly changes the side of the rotation.

Luca spinned too. Fast enough that he fell, gently, on the floor.

–      Maman, maman, la maison elle a bougé!!!  (the house moved !)

–      The house moved?

–      Oui.  Pourquoi elle a bougé la maison?  (yes.  Why did it move ?)

–      The house didnt move Luca. IT’s because you spinned so your eyes keep tracking and think the house moved.

He looked at me confused.  I told him to try to turn again and see what happens.  He did, fell down, open his eyes and looked very confused

–      Maman, maman, la maison elle a encore bougé!!!  (the house moved again!)

–      The house didnt move Luca. It’s your eyes who think the house moved.

–      Elle a bougé comment la maison?  (how did it move?)


Sept 1st Luca visits his first aquarium

–      I saw…. sharks

–      Really?

–      They did not eat me

–      Oh, that’s cool.  What did they do

–      Y’avait une barriere (there was a fence)

–      So what did they look like?

–      They eat fish

–      Big fish?

–      The small fish.

–      Oh

–      The fish is in the water.  Is the fish cold maman?

–      No, a fish is never cold unless it’s frozen

–      [blank]