malentendu: How to pronounce W.-C. (the word for restroom in French)
le toit

la cachette

la cachette (kah-shet) noun, feminine
1. hiding-place; hideout


en cachette = on the sly, secretly
en cachette de quelqu'un = behind someone's back

Citation du Jour:
Durant l'absence de pluie, ce sont les jeunes arbres qui jaunissent les premiers. Les vieux ont des cachettes souterraines qu'on appelle expérience.

In the absence of rain, it is the young trees that turn yellow first. The old ones have underground hiding-places that we call experience.
--Félix Leclerc

A Day in a French Life...

The first words I hear when the iron gates open and the kids rumble forth from school--even before "Salut, maman!"*--are: "Tiens, prends ça! Here, take this!" Max and Jackie are so weighted down with knowledge and instruction, craft projects and other take-me-homes that they are bursting to share some of it with me.

On Tuesday I waited before the school entrance, admiring this season's colorful, frou-frou* skirt on the French woman before me. I stood in comfortable obscurity, wearing à peu près* the color on the stone wall behind my back.

"Tiens,"* Jackie said, arriving at a snail's pace and handing me a wet serviette de plage.*
"Hi!" I replied, taking the towel. That's when the bathing suit tumbled out. All two pieces of it. She had apparently snuck the two-piece to school for the weekly trip to la piscine.*

Earlier, I heeded her request to not include another rikiki* towel while packing her pool things. Along with a jumbo towel, I had included the pretty pink maillot de bain,* the one that covers her from ear to toe. (The une pièce* with the pretty daisies that her marraine* gave her for Christmas.)

Not the two-piece with the red hearts.

"Jackie. You know you are not supposed to wear a two-piece for swim class. N'est-ce pas?"*

My seven-year-old studied me for a moment, two chocolate-brown disks with a thick, forest-green border staring up... her father's eyes. Lifting my hand to her temple, I was temporarily mesmerized by those eyes. My hand pushed back her hair, soft wheat-colored locks that would soon turn chartreuse with the onset of summer, and swimming à gogo* in a pool of chlorinated, copper treated eau.*

"This hair probably hasn't seen the inside of a swim cap either!" I thought. Which brought me back to the present. "Jackie--your bathing suit!" I said, referring to the swimsuit switch.

"Je l'ai fait en cachette, maman. I did it on the sly, mom," she said, raising her eyebrows and pointing those brown disks northwest. The crinkle in her forehead, the upturned lips. That expression! I forgot all over again why I was mad at her.

"Well, if you do that again, I'll find a nice little cachette* for the two-piece. D'acco taco?"*

"O.K., maman," she said, skipping ahead of me, vainqueur* once more.

*References: salut, maman = hi, mom; à peu près = just about; frou-frou = frilly; tiens = here; la serviette de plage (f) = beach towel; la piscine (f) = swimming pool; rikiki (riquiqui) = tiny; le maillot de bain (m) = swimsuit; une pièce (f) = one-piece; la marraine (f) = godmother; n'est-ce pas? = isn't that right?; à gogo = galore; l'eau (f) = water; la cachette (f) = hiding-place; D'acco taco (our family's version of  'D'accord' = O.K.); le vainqueur (m) = winner

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