The T-Bone Scrubs Up Nice
3rd December 2017
I had to drag young T-Bone into the land of respectability this week. It was a full-service job. He was a disgrace from nose to tail. T has always been a pants-optional sort of person, and clothes are an issue for us here, especially as the weather gets colder.
At home, where the kids wear a school uniform, it’s a lot easier. Sure, sometimes I have to sew up a rip, the hats are constantly getting lost and the uniforms have generally been handed down through a series of ragamuffins before they get to mine, but it’s all good. Our beloved little beach school is full of kids dressed in the same style. You could call it ‘Petite Derelicte’.
At home on the weekends, when my kids bother wearing clothes, they usually pair some questionable combination of garments from the dress-up box, stay in what they wore to bed or grab the closest thing to hand. They don’t care. I do my best to keep everything clean, but shirts have holes, shorts fray and if an item appeals to the kids they will squeeze into it or tie it on no matter if it is eight sizes too big or too small.
When we have an event or something to go to and I have to put all three of them into a decent outfit, that usually involves a shopping trip for at least one, if not all.
Here in France, every day is ‘proper outfit’ day. It’s killing me. Also, winter has arrived (it snowed yesterday for a full half hour!) and so outfits now require puffy coats and lots of layers and beanies and gloves.
I’ve discovered the Red Cross (Croix Rouge) shop, which I love, and friends here have delivered hand-me-down mittens and hats. The girls are pretty easy to pull together, but small T-Pot is trickier. He has decided that he will only wear black, so that people won’t pay attention to him and interrupt his interior monologue about Monopoly strategy. Also, he hates to get his hair cut, so I usually let his thick blonde mop grow out as long as possible before getting it cut short. This week I said that if he let me cut his fringe he could probably get away with avoiding the hairdresser a bit longer.
He agreed, but the theatrical wriggling in the bathroom as the scissors approached meant that the first cut was a bit short, and then I had to even it out, and ….you know how that old story goes. I knew I needed to call in the professionals but it was a few days until the salon in town opened, so he had to to go to school with a short fringe and long mop, looking like Sharon from Payroll in 1987. Not that he noticed.
Also, his hands are freezing because he left his gloves at the cinema, and then he lost his school bag. This is the third time that one of the kids has lost their bag. How? I don’t know. I don’t think we ever lost a full bag and contents before, but in France, apparently, we are just that idiotic. At home, T-Bone loses things all the time. (He walks around with his head in an entirely different place than his body, so I understand how this happens.) But I can usually find his lost stuff in the school yard, or on his hook, or in the lost-property bin or in some bizarre place, like the vegetable garden, or the whale-watching platform. (I don’t bother asking questions.)
In France we are not allowed past the gates. The school is the teachers territory, and it’s the kids responsibility to manage life in there.
The directrice was not impressed by Ted’s lost bag.
‘Je suis desolee,’ I said. ‘Teddy ..er… perdu ils sac. His bag is lost.’
She looked annoyed.
‘Je ne sais pas porqoui!’ I said.
‘I don’t know why either’, she said. (The Directrice speaks English but I try to use my French with her because she doesn’t approve of my speaking English and she is terrifying.)
I looked to Teddy but he was halfway across the yard, golden mane bouncing like he just stepped out of a salon. He is also terrified of the Directrice and escapes at the first opportunity.
‘Also, ‘e needs new shoes,’ she said. Ted is in his boots because his runners completely disintegrated by the end of last term. ‘’E cannot run in these shoes.’
‘Oui,’ I said. ‘Oui, bien sur.’
I backed away, bowing from the waist, and set off on my mission to sort him out. I bought a new school bag, a new ‘agenda’ (diary), dragged him kicking and screaming to the salon to be sheared, dragged him to the shoe store to find a pair of runners (black, no writing or logo, no ‘funny feeling’, oh, not a difficult shopping mission at all!), and bought him some new trousers, gloves and a beanie.
Monday looms. Let’s hope I can pull us all into shape! It doesn’t help too much that the washing machine has broken so I’m living the laundromat life (where a couple started having special cuddles in front of me last week, forcing me to pull my clothes out of the dryer early and awkwardly while saying the Rosary)
As we roll into what is shaping up to be a cold winter, my Instagram is full of pictures of summer at home. In a year, I’ll be back there, with a new appreciation for our barefoot Australian days, holey t-shirts and all. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the puffy-coat life, and getting ready for a white Christmas. Snow, rather than salt, in our hair on Christmas Day.
Wish me luck for the week ahead. May the T-Nuts keep his clothes clean and his backpack where it should be, the laundrette-lovers find a new kink, and the Croix Rouge get in a big stock of hoodies, thermals and tracksuit pants, black, no logo, size 9.