As The Apprentice has once again returned, I felt a relevantly linked blog title was in order. I’m sure we all remember Susan Ma and her utterance of this legendary if not ridiculous phrase (if you don’t, I’d advise you to YouTube it; heck why not even join the Facebook group while you’re there).
As for the connection between said statement and the content of today’s entry? Well. It was basically all a meticulously prepared ploy so that I can blab about the cuteness of French babies.
Despite my various child-related jobs, I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily the most broody person around. Don’t get me wrong, I love kiddies, but after three years working as a Soft Play Assistant (official title) in Larkfield Leisure Centre’s indoor play area ‘Larkabout’, the ecstatic high-pitched whoops of a little one at play do begin to take their toll.
No matter how cute the child, parent-toddler birthday screaming matches are never fun for anyone, not least the long-suffering party host (aka yours truly) desperately attempting to plaster on an enthusiastic smile as she hands out High School Musical party bags, resolves over-excited bladder incidents and stops would-be rebels (often Dads) from climbing up the slide.
However, now I’m in France, these experiences have all been forgotten for the time being, and the combined stress of teen romance, and ‘cool’ English swearing/songs (‘I’m sexy and I know it’) has served to hugely up the appeal of the primary age, where the most heinous crime would be a pulling of hair or the hiding of someone’s pencil case.
Over the past six months, I really have developed a love of lil’ Frenchies. Okay, so there is always the slight grumble that a two year old speaks better French than me and is likely to do a better job asking for bread in a bakery...but push past this minor obstacle and they really are rather loveable.
Last week on the bus for instance, I witnessed the adorable scene of a mother trying to teach her baby son the correct pronunciation of ‘bus’ (which in French is something like ‘boo-s’). Although the first syllable was managed each time with ease, there was always a slight pause of about ten seconds until the little boy then followed on with ‘sssss’, poking his tongue between his gummy lips and smiling in such a sweet manner that almost every other passenger visibly ‘awww’d’.
A similar situation occurred on a train to Paris recently, when a rosy little girl of no more than three spent the entire journey proclaiming ‘au revoir’, and waving at people with chubby fists. Now, I’m pretty sure my first reaction would be one of offence and annoyance if on the way to Maidstone some tracksuit-clad (because all Maidstone babies are, of course) kid decided to constantly shout ‘BYE’ at me, but somehow the French language makes it seem that much cuter.
So you see, in some ways, being foreign in France does have its benefits. I love it when a child of any age whispers ‘elle est anglaise’ (she is English) to a shushing parental figure as if I’m some form of rare species, and my students’ echoing corridor cries of ‘ALLO ELLA’ often make me feel I’ve achieved automatic celebrity status simply by having a different nationality.
Unfortunately, the dream is almost over. In just over two weeks time (how time has flown!), I will be returning to the Kentish homelands, where there will certainly be no more autograph-seeking style shouts as I walk down the street.
Far from an intriguingly exotic creature, I am more likely to be viewed over summer as That Girl Who Works In Larkabout Innit (and what a wonderful title to hold); perhaps a little quirky but generally a normal human being, and most importantly: Plain Old English. And you know what? I can’t wait.