Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ma Petite Citrouille

Sophia dancing with wild abandon on the streets of Europe in 2000.
My little baby left home today. Ma petite citrouille, my little pumpkin, is flying to France for ten days with about a dozen other kids from her high school. I'm used to saying goodbye to my teenager every summer. She spends as much time as she can with her dad in Oregon, and we've also encouraged her to spend at least a week every summer with her favorite aunties, my sister Dana in Oregon and her dad's sister Joannie in Washington. Each time she comes back to me so much older, mature, happy and tan, with fun experiences to tell me about. I think the whole family considers it a blessing that she loves her aunts so much that she cherishes the time she gets to spend with them and wouldn't give it up for anything. So every year, I send her off, trying not to miss her a bit, knowing she's in good hands with some of the people I love most in this world, who love her almost as much as much I do.

But this time it's a little different, and it was a lot harder to say au revoir. She's not on the west coast in the same time zone. She's on the other side of the world, 9 hours ahead. She's not with a family member that I know and trust dearly, she's staying with a family that I've never met in a town I've never been to a few hours east of Paris. Then she'll spend three days in the city of love with her Redding classmates before heading back to the states, visiting the Eiffel Tower, taking a cruise on the Seine, and shopping in the Latin Quarter.
I'm so jealous I can hardly stand it.

As an overprotective mom of an only child, I've got so much anxiety coursing through my veins right now that I may not be able to sleep until I pick her back up at San Francisco International Airport in a couple of weeks. Does she have enough money? Can she keep it safe? Will the airline lose her luggage? Will she fall victim to pickpockets or someone trying to take advantage of her limited understanding of French? I found her toothbrush by the side of the bathroom sink this morning where she forgot it, after taking it back out of her suitcase. What else did she leave behind? Will she have the right clothing for the weather? Did she take the right shoes? Will she get along with her host family?

When she's with her aunties, I know they watch out for her, but now she's pretty much on her own. She can't just call or text me when she's got a mommy question, because the last thing did as she walked out the door was hand me her iPhone and tell me "J'taime."

You'd think I'd be a bit less anxious, especially considering the fact this isn't her first trip to France. It's not even her second. When she was a toddler we were fortunate enough to voyage overseas a couple of times. Sophia was just 22 months old when we spent six weeks abroad, most of it in small villages in the south of France. We rented a house in a village that was so small, in fact, that it didn't have a bakery. A french village without a bakery. Quelle trag├ędie!

Sophia was just at that age where she was rapidly learning how to speak, and she picked up French more easily than English during that trip, since she was surrounded by it everywhere she went, and her father and I tried to help her by speaking it as well. She ended up learning all her numbers, colors and animals in French before she mastered them in English. In fact, for many years she used 'rouge' instead of red, and 'granouille' instead of frog, 'chat' instead of cat. I'll never forget the evening that she was running around the square of a little village, entertaining several elderly citizens by dancing around, when the top of the hour rolled around, and the town's bell tower began to ring, and she stopped dead in her tracks, pointed towards the pealing bells, and shouted, "Les cloches! Les cloches!" and the townspeople erupted into laughter because she was so cute.

Sophia also made up her first pun one afternoon as we walked for what seemed like miles through a walled medieval city with narrow cobblestone streets and staircases. Friends had given me a cheap umbrella stroller to take with me, promising it would be my savior for days like that one. But Sophia's dad made the executive decision to ditch the stroller at the Seattle airport because he thought it would be too much hassle. I put up a fight, and was going to use my veto power to overrule him, but finally gave in after I made him promise to be the one to carry her if Sophia ever refused to walk a step further with those little legs. She was such a great traveler that he only had to carry her a few times during that trip. The first time was the morning we arrived, when we embarked on what I called the Death March To Haarlem after Sophia conked out completely during the train ride from the Amsterdam airport to Haarlem, and since Glenn had to carry his backpack on his back, he carried her in his arms as she lay prone, on her back, mouth wide open. for a mile to the hotel. He never looked more miserable, and I never felt more smug.

But I was telling you about her pun. She was such a good sport, walking and walking and walking, until we headed down a long flight of stairs. She tiredly started down them, counting them off in French as she walked down, "Un... Deux... Trois... Quatre... Cinque... Seis... Sept... DOWN." And she set her little butt down on the stair, smiling, but refusing to move again. She'd had it, and that was how she let us know.

J'adore that girl.

Sophia today.
In her honor, today I've put together a playlist of French music. It's a combination of music that I've been listening to for years, some of it since I was in my first year of college French, and music that Sophia has been turned on to in the past 3 years as she began studying French in high school. I'm pretty sure she'll come back home in a few weeks with more musique a la Francias, and I can't wait. Literally.

Amusez-vous! Voici, le playlist d'aujourd'hui, courtesy of Grooveshark.
I Love Paris by Valerie Ing-Miller on Grooveshark


  1. French Cafe - Cafe Chill
  2. Ne Sois Pas Si Bete - France Gall
  3. I Love Paris - Ella Fitzgerald
  4. La Vie En Rose - Edith Piaf
  5. Sympathique - Pink Martini
  6. Dis-Lui Oui - Benabar
  7. Golden Baby - Coeur de Pirate
  8. Adieu - Coeur de Pirate
  9. Bon Voyage - Armin van Buuren
  10. Un Jour En France - Noir Desir
  11. Oh La - Brice Conrad
  12. Boulbi - Booba
  13. Sur Ma Route - Black M
  14. Papaoutai - Stromae
  15. Bella - Maitre Gims
  16. Ca Ira Mon Amour - Rod Janois
  17. Juste une Photo de Toi - Matt Pokora
  18. Caractere - Joyce Jonathan
  19. I Love Paris - Les Negresses Vertes
  20. Ca Plane Pour Moi - Plastic Bertrand
  21. Blue Monday - Nouvelle Vague
  22. Amoureaux Solitaires - Nouvelle Vague
  23. La Mer - Charles Trenet
  24. Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien - Edith Piaf
  25. Melancolie - Cafe de Paris
  26. French Kiss - Equaleyes
  27. La Vie En Rose - Louis Armstrong

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