Innocents Abroad

We seem to settling into something of a routine here. Jet lag has had its pluses and minuses. The kids are sleeping until eleven, which is about four hours later than we’re used to… five hours for some of the kids. I feel like a rock star when I wake up to double digits. But they’re up later — and generally a bit off. At some point in the day each of the girls takes a turn and melts down gloriously, usually somewhere very public, with as many annoyed French people around as she can possibly find. Public transport seems to be their favorite spot for public displays of poor-behavior. Fi lost it on the train to Juan les Pins, and Sidney held court on the bus to Mougins, screaming and thrashing and pissing off French people left and right. I got so many dirty looks on that bus ride that I kept checking to make sure I wasn’t wearing a YOU ARE ALL SMELLY FROGS AND HAVEN’T BEEN GOOD AT ANYTHING IN OVER A CENTURY tee-shirt.

I wasn’t.

The boys have been generally alright, just loud and seem to relish kicking sand in as many French faces as possible on the beach. Bennett, who moves like a large puppy, completely unaware of his surroundings, kicked a few buckets worth of sand in the face of a rather muscular tattooed young man today. I pulled Bennett aside and told him that the man could probably kick the crap out of all of us without breaking a sweat, even if he was French, and that he ought to take another route when running into the ocean.

I also sat the kids down yesterday, at the train station, as they were making paper airplanes out of train schedules and throwing them at each other and anyone unlucky enough to pass them, that American children had a nasty reputation overseas, and that it was their job, if only for the sake of their countrymen, to behave as beautifully as possible.

I don’t think it’s working. Today Fiona sat down next to a woman on the beach and announced: THIS FRENCH WOMAN HAS A FAT TUSHY (I suppose French women do get at after all; but I suspect that book really should have been titled “Parisian Women Don’t Get Fat,” because there are, as Fiona would say, plenty of large tushies in these parts.)

Fortunately this woman spoke no English, or not enough to understand a three year old. And the topless women don’t seem to mind the staring and pointing; in fact I think they quite like it. Who doesn’t like members of the ten-and-under-set gawking  … not to mention rating them. (One child: “The boobs today are far better than yesterday’s boobs.”)

But that’s a story for another day.

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