Jackie (c) Kristin Espinasse
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froisser (frwa-say) verb (sound clip at the end of this letter)

  1. to crumple, crush, crease 2. to hurt, offend

...l'indépendance de l'adolescent. Si on froisse en lui ce droit qu'il vient de se découvrir avec ravissement, il... révolte. ...the adolescent's independence. If we crush in him this right, which he has just discovered with delight, he...rebels. --Rex Desmarchais

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

With its winding cobblestone floors and a fountain around every corner, our medieval village-in-the-sky doubles as a celestial bike ride for my 8-year-old daughter.

Standing on her bike's pedals, Jackie descends the serpentine path of 10,000 hand-laid stones. Happy to walk, I follow behind my daughter and hear the intermittent screech of the bike's brakes. She's a good rider and she is cautious when rounding the tight corners. 

I bet all that tire screeching sounds like whinnying in Jackie's ears and that her imaginationi has taken flight along with those wheels which have surely turned to wings. Looking down, she no longer sees pedals but the hooves of Pegasus. 

For a magical moment, one little girl swoops over stones polished from nine centuries of shuffling feet and glides alongside mosaic-tiled courtyards before touching down in front of the town's campanile, which announces the eighteenth hour in six resounding strikes.

My daughter's return to earth is jolting as only the transition from heaven to earth can be. With the lofty village at her back, she lands where the medieval district tapers out onto the modern sidewalk. There, she steps off her preternatural pedals right into a pile of crottes de chien.  Just like that, her chimerical ride from the top of the ancient village to the bottom has come to a disenchanting end.

"It's okay, Jackie!" I reassure her. "Ça porte bonheur!"

But Jackie is inconsolable as she drags her tainted shoe over a patch of gravier. I am surprised by my daughter's reaction. She's humiliated! I can't understand how stepping into dog-doo can hurt one's feelings so. 

Finally, I see the truth in my daughter's response. After all, isn't that how we fall: right off our dreamy Pegasus and into a heap of merde? Crumpled so, our misadventurous souls refuse to be consoled, but remain froissé. We punish ourselves.

I step aside and let my daughter sort through the you-know-what. When the pained expression leaves her face, she throws her right leg over the bike's frame and, with the push of the pedal, she's off. Vas-y ma fille! And don't look back!

French Vocabulary

la crotte de chien = dog-doo

ça porte bonheur = that brings good luck

le gravier = gravel

la merde = sh--

froissé = hurt
vas-y = go on!
ma fille = my girl 
Listen: hear the word froisser spoken by my daughter, Jackie:

Verb conjugation: je froisse, tu froisses, il/elle froisse, nous froissons, vous froissez, ils/elles froissent  past participle: froissé

'2,000+ Essential French Verbs' makes everything simple--conjugations, tenses, irregulars, and even conversation.

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