Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Laying the blame

Okay, just a grumble that's perhaps merited, perhaps not. I'm trying to get back into the swing of "studying" French, which is at this point asking nicely for people to correct my mistakes, looking up words I don't know, and reading books. Make that 'reading a book,' since I don't have time to get very far, but that's to be expected. Oh, and actually trying to speak it now that I'm a desperate housewife locked up in my apartment. Fine, so I'm not actually locked up, but until I'm confident I can leave the house without my baby screaming her lungs into shredded wheat, I've become more of a homebody and that does impede any further progress in French. My LLL fiasco yesterday has only shown me that I have a long way to go, baby, before I stop looking like an idiot in this country.

To make a long and boring story short, I went to the La Leche League meeting primarily to get out of the house and go to a place where I wouldn't be too embarrassed to breastfeed. Maybe I'll get over the shyness soon...I know it's strange since I have no qualms at all about public baths, but then again I don't exactly feel that breastfeeding is a big part of western culture, either. Everybody and their elderly relatives go to public baths in Japan, whereas certainly not everybody decides to breastfeed their child in public here. On the other hand, it probably would be considered normal for me to show my breasts if I were, say, selling yogurt or at least another dairy product in this country (and there is a link there if you think about it)...but I digress.

There was a new mother there with many of the same issues I am facing or have recently faced, and I didn't really speak up with my own opinions and experiences. Well, I did once, when she talked about how she felt like all she did was feed the baby day in and day out. Been there, done that, and I could have talked on and on about it. I tried to tell her to hang in there and that it does get better when the baby gets old enough to start noticing things besides boobage and then she'll be able to at least temporarily distract her with jingly-type toys. Seriously, THANK GOD for jingly toys. A friend of mine sent Cleo the Cowgirl as a gift, and out of desperation I took the changing mat, put it underneath the clothes drying rack and hung Cleo in reach of baby E.'s tootsies and it bought me at least TEN WHOLE MINUTES of free time for my nipples. If you're wondering why I'm using all caps, it's because yes, I am really excited enough to shout that.

Anyway, I tried to tell my little story and apparently failed miserably, because the women all looked at me as if I were Tarzan trying to teach them Calculus (although wouldn't Tarzan at least have had his chimp to help him out?). Oh, well. The only other time I really talked was when the mother of the twins got slightly upset with one of her little darlings after he ripped up some other child's drawing for the upteenth time. I don't know how she does it, since she not only has her boys but is babysitting for another toddler and though they are small, let me assure you they are pretty fast. Hats off to this woman, because I'm pretty sure I would be a complete wreck under similar circumstances.

Anyway, the guy was just going over to this picture taped to the window and tearing it into shreds and she would distract him, tell him 'no,' and do all the other patient things the books tell you to do (while simultaneously watching over the other two little guys), but to no avail. He did it one last time and then she really lit into him verbally to get her point across. Another woman was in the middle of talking when she started shouting, and I don't know if it worked for her kid or not but it sure as hell scared the pants off of the rest of us. We all simultaneously turned to stare at the carnage, mouths agape, when I managed to pull myself together enough to turn back around to the woman who had been telling her story and say the first thing that came to mind which was "Well, your baby sure is a cute one" and she responded, but no one else said anything so I added, "Really, he is just too cute" and she said something back and then thank God someone else was able to pitch in and we managed to carry on as if nothing unusual were happening...otherwise I would have been forced to resort to "I think he has your eyes" or some other insipid comment.

This was supposed to have been a short post but the baby is taking a longish nap -- how about that?! I guess Cleo just tired her out, bless her. Anyway, I firmly blame my lack of French ability on the suckiness of French TV. I don't mean to offend people, but really, French TV is terrible. As a friend put it, a general evening's entertainment involves 3 channels of random talk shows, one US series dubbed in French (no, thanks) and one documentary on chimpanzees. I'd love to watch some good French series and bone up on my vocabulary and street slang, but first I'd have to find some. Even my MIL complains about it. Instead I just ended up watching American series on DVD and that doesn't help my predicament in the least. Where are the good French series? Japan had scads and scads of entertaining shows ... I didn't need to fully understand the language in order to appreciate their wackiness, but even so I got a lot of vocab out of my efforts, not to mention weird cultural tidbits. (Can you tell how grumpy I am now that Nouvelle Star is finished?)

So. I have a grumpy and stinky baby to attend to, but before I go, I just wanted to ask: does anyone know how to contact those bigwigs at TV channels? I have this great idea for a TV show, see, something along the lines of Survivor, only with new expat mothers. There could be loads of challenges, just think...a day at the prefecture, a day with the inlaws...the list could go on and on.


Jennifer said...

A new reality show for expat mothers I think is a terrific idea! :) The show could even start with pregnancy, because I've had more than enough adventures at the doctor's office so far and I haven't even had the child yet!

Papadesdeux said...

I know it sounds trite, but hang in there. The language gradually becomes easier... gradually... as do the kids... well at least the problems don't stay the same, so you get a little variety. :)) Why am I talking like I'm an expert? I am so NOT.

Riana said...

lol that would be really funny!!

You can have my MIL she is coming to live below us for the rest of the summer, (gah) its because of her and her annoying habit to repeat everything ten freaking times (to everyone) that i am totally fluent in french now. she irons too, should i send her?

i agree that french tv sucks. that never helped me with French, i would watch the news and that is about it.

Angela in Europe said...

Lord, wouldn't it be a good show?! Every expat in the whole world would watch it because they would want to know about being an Expat in France. Great idea!

Pardon My French said...

Jennifer -- I really would love a show like that. All those doctor's visits are interesting and overwhelming at times, but by the end I'd gotten used to them. Can't wait to relive the memories via your blog...I'll be reading!

Papades2 -- Thanks, again. I consider you an expert if you have 2 young twins. Hats off!

Riana -- Hmmmm...she irons and my French would get better? I'm considering your offer. Things with mine have been going better, so I'm feeling better.

Angela -- I seriously think it would make a great show. If I had any talent I would make my own documentary but am not sure the people at the secu would be as "fun" if I had a camera.