November 21, 2010

Doudou Disaster

Last week could have ended up in a disaster.  

On Monday, I took Malo to the doctor to check his then two-week old ear infection. 

The appointment was at 6pm, by which time I am usually still at work.
I had a 5.00pm meeting which started late. It has begun to rain in the afternoon and I was cycling.
When I got to daycare, the Chariot, which we leave outside the building during the day, looked more like a sinking boat than a child carrier, filled as it was with water.
Then, when we arrived in front of the doctor's building, I had to struggle trying to simultaneously hold my son, try to protect him from the rain, lock the bike, close the Chariot's cover, all under the judging eyes of an old lady sheltered under her umbrella and clearly not impressed by my riding my baby around in torrential rain.
In a nutshell, all the conditions were not met to get to the appointment all cool and relax.

Considering things had not gone too smoothly until then, the doctor's appointment went surprisingly well. Not that Malo's ear was getting much better, but at least, he was really well behaved in spite of the late hour. 

45 minutes later, we were all ready to go.

Then the fateful realisation struck: WE-DID-NOT-HAVE-MALO'S-DOUDOU-ANYMORE.

Now, in case you are 1. not French, 2. not a parent yet, 3. lucky parents, like mine were, of a child without a doudou, you'll be forgiven for not knowing what a doudou is, or how important it is. To sum it up, a doudou is quite simply, for many children, most likely the third most important thing on the world after his mum and dad. And sometimes, you would be forgiven for thinking it is the most important thing in his life. He sleeps with it, needs it when he is sad, to day care, to go for a walk, and, in Malo's case, even tries to convince me I should let him take it in the bathtub. 

Malo did not have a doudou until, aged 4 months, he started going to daycare once a week, so that I could  have a bit of free time to (relunctantly) look for a job.  In daycare, the ladies looking after him suggested I gave him something that would remind him of me, ideally that would smell of me. I briefly thought about an old running shoe, realised it was not that practical, so settled on a Provence-style, rawsberry-red cotton scarf, that seemed bright enough for a small baby to be interested in it.

That worked beyond any hopes, Malo was carrying his doudou everywhere, and the only trouble was that, once in a while, I had to find a trick to separate him from his doudou so that I could wash it  dry it with a hairdryer so that it would dry faster, spray a bit of perfume on my neck, the scarf around the neck, and  give it back to Malo before he realised part of him had been stolen.

Now that Malo is in daycare 50 hours a week as a result of me working  full time, the doudou has become more important than ever. He has it to fall asleep, when he's sad, when he's tired. He even crawls around with it, and I strongly suspect the daycare manager seriously considers downsizing the cleaning staff since Malo is mopping the floor with his doudou 10 hours a day.

Now that the context is set, you can easily imagine me, standing in pouring rain with my one year old son under my arm, realising disaster had just struck and the doudou was gone.

After a last look in the surgery, the hall and outside the building, I frantically loaded Malo in the Chariot, sprinted back to daycare thinking that maybe a miracle had happened and I would find the doudou in the hall or where I park the Chariot.  No such luck.

Then Martin rang on my mobile. "I LOST THE DOUDOU", I cried in lieu of hello.

And this there was nothing else to do, I cycled back home, tears running down my cheeks. 

Things carried on going wrong. Malo was tired and crying, and did not understand why we were not giving him the only thing which soothes him straight away. Then it was story time before going to bed. Except Malo's favourite story is that of a little bear who has lost his doudou (a red one too, would you believe the coincidence?). The story ends up with the bear's cat finding the doudou and the little bear being very happy, but since Malo always needs to have his own doudou in his hand when we read the story, doing this tonight was not an option. Hell, even whispering the word "doudou" was not something we envisaged doing that evening.

It is not that we had not thought this may happen one day. We even tried to prepare ourselves, putting aside some scarves which, altough not identical to Malo's, may do the job. As tonight was clearly the night to resort to Plan B, I gave him that other scarf, a brown one, thinking that, with dim light, that may just work. It did not, and although he did end up falling asleep, it took much longer than the (admittedly quite short) 3 minutes it usually takes.

To say I was not productive at work the next day would be an understatement. I was feeling miserable, plus had a lot on my plate.  Like try to reach the other doctor from the surgery since I thought maybe some kid patients of hers may have seen and taken the doudou. Or prepare signs that I wanted to pin on the trees in front of the doctor's office and in the hall, asking anybody would would have information about the doudou to call me (yes, I was that desperate, which is why being ridiculous was not something I cared about anylonger). Gave up my lunchbreak run to instead rush to the doctor's and placard my little signs.  Giving up a run. Now, if you had not realised how bad the situation was, that should give it away, shouldn't it?

Now, if you are not a parent, the chance is you are by now finding the whole story beyong ridiculous, and feel you now need to stop reading and have a good laugh at me. Hell, maybe I would have done just that has I read the story from someone else, pre-Malo.  On second thoughts, I wouldn't, but that only because you're talking to someone who, well into her 30s, cried when she saw a lion driven around in a cage by some circus staff.

Problem is, now, I am a mum, and I tell you there was not much I would not have done that day to make sure I would not see this sad look in my baby's eyes. 

Early afternoon, I could not help calling daycare to check on Malo and how he managed without the doudou. OK, said the lady, but he clearly felt something was off, and he had refused to nap, throwing the erastz of a doudou at the bottom of the bed. Not exactly what I wanted to hear. 

Next step was to try and find a new scarf which looked like the lost one. Not an easy task, since I had been enough of a fool to give my son a scarf from a brand which has known better days and is now only sold in a few shops in Provence, and of a pattern which they have stopped producing years ago. Well done, me.

After a day feeling like the most useless and miserable mum earth has ever produced, I got home, still wondering how to deal with Malo and his loss.

Then I realised I had a message on my mobile phone. I checked the caller: it was the doctor. I checked the message: SHE HAD FOUND THE DOUDOU! We would not be able to get it before the following morning, but now, we knew we would manage another night.

We now have the doudou back. My mum has managed, through a friend who works at the firm producing the scarves, to get the exact same one (that was the last one:  I cannot believe my luck!), so we have a spare one (although I'd better keep it around my neck night and day if I want it to feel the same as the old one - good thing we're getting into Winter).

Malo has also developped a fondness for another scarf of mine, of the same pattern but bright yellow this time, so I have hopes that, if we were to lose both the old and the new red scarves, we may be able to survive with the yellow one.

And now, if the Company producing these scarves does not have anything against child labour, they may  want to consider using Malo as their new top model...  They could pay him in scarves: if he carries on being a scarf addict until he's in his 20s, that may prove a good deal for me.

November 03, 2010

Standing Ovation

I am glad last weekend was a three day weeekend.

As reported, the last two weeks, including the beginning of last weekend, were, granted, pretty eventful, but unfortunately not of the kind of eventful I like... call me picky if you wish.

Yesterday however allowed us to finish the weekend in style, and hopefully marked the end of our "septimana horriblis" (times two).

The doctor had been adamant I should not run on Sunday. But hey, I had not asked anything about Monday, and the weather was very nice yesterday, so it was worth taking the risk of a more painful throat after a long steep climb to enjoy a run in the sun... no pain, no gain.

So yesterday morning I went out running up Mont Baron, above the Annecy lake for two hours with a friend, Martin, my usual favourite partner in crime, having all but broken his toe on our last run together last Wednesday, and, since he could not run nor climb anyway, having been promoted to "baby sitter in chief" for the morning.

Two minutes in our run, I was already wondering what had gotten in my head when I chose this route, of all routes. Sure, the view from the top, overlooking the lake, is simply amazing, but the 900m elevation gain it takes to get there may not have been the best choice when one is already coughing her heart out walking on flat ground. Every single metre of the climb made my calves burn and my throat feel like pearced with needles, and my running partner as a result seemed more concerned by me collapsing at the top than at his 8.5 month pregnant wife giving birth in his absence. But it was fun!

The photo is not from yesterday but although the outfil has
changed, the view has not!

I was home by late morning, and since Malo was feeling better, Martin was feeling better, and I had been feeling well enough to go for a run, we decided to go for a family hike in a natural reserve by the lake.

And that was even more fun that the morning run!

Petite Boule loved being outside and was laughing like there was no tomorrow. He was throwing big yellow dead leaves in the air, trying to catch and eat a beetle... What a great feeling for Martin and I to look at him enjoying being outside, especially after last summer's fears - seeing like Malo would straight out refused to let grass touch his bare feet - that our son did not like nature and that he would hate every single minute of the kind of activities we were planning for him for the 18 years to come.

We walked a little with Malo in the Deuter backpack, which he quickly got tired of. Who would blame him: it sure is much more fun to be on Maman's shoulders and witness her make a total fool of herself by running and whining like a horse. 

Malo also "walked". Oh, not by himself, since the little devil has clearly decided two people in the family doing insane amount of exercise is more than enough and he does not need to add to that (to be fair to him, he does move around a lot, only not on his two feet yet).  Although I am in no rush to see him walk, since he will do it in his own time and he has the rest of his life to do so anyway, I must say that I am soon going to take on a loan to pay the osteopath if I need to carry on holding Malo's hands the way I do several hours per day these days. Anyway, he did a lot of assisted walking yesterday, from one tree to the next, to some leaves on the ground, to the edible-looking bettle, back to the tree.. repeat 10 times.

Then we got back home, and a few minutes later, a big milestone was reached: Malo stood by himself! We clapped in our hands, so he did it again, and clapped too. And again. And again. Then with keys in the right hand. Then with bread in the left one. Then with both keys and bread.

I just cannot decide who, of the two, was the proudest, the mum or the baby.  Hey hey, next thing I know, he is going to come running up Mont Baron with me, even with a sore throat and a bad cough...