un petit mot

Flowers and un petit mot for you today.

Note: SUMMER BREAK! The next edition goes out the week of August 22nd.

un petit mot (uhn peuh tee moh)

    : a little note

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Je t'ai laissé un petit mot sur ton bureau. I left you a little note on your desk.

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

I just deleted a story I'd written about racism. It began something like this:
They say that racism is at a new high...

In the essay there was a thought I was developing that went like this:
That anyone could feel superior to another seems to me the lowest form of barbarism

(I admit, I had to pause to look up "barbarian", and, just to be sure:
barbar = savage, Neanderthal, rude, uncivil, lacking learning, insensitive, a boor... "a crude uncouth ill-bred person lacking culture or refinement")

Then I had another look at the idea I'd been developing:
That anyone could feel superior to another seems to me the lowest form of barbarism.  

Only... it occurred to me that such a thought (a judgement, wasn't it?) might itself be barbaric! (is "judgmental" a synonym for "barbarian"?)....

And so I threw it out: the thought, and those that followed. Perhaps when it comes to ideas, it is better to receive than to give? Anyways, I know so little.

What is sure is that along with most people I am heartbroken about the state of the world. The London Riots, racism, hunger, illness. So many people in need. What are we to do? 

Meantime, our own families cry out for our attention--reminding us of the idea that charity begins at home.

I awoke yesterday morning to a message on my keyboard. The handwritten note made me pause before firing up my computer. Le petit mot was written in sky blue, sunshine yellow, and rose red. In the center, there was a beautiful rosette, colored in with the same rainbow in which the words were written.

I recognized my daughter's calligraphie and, on reading her words, her message deeply touched me:

    Mon Plus Beau Cadeau

        Je t'aime

        tu me donne espoir


        à avancer

        à réussir


        Je peux réussir

        cette annee grâce à toi

        j'ai confiance en toi

        je t'aime tellement

        Car sans l'amour que serait le monde?


I sat staring at the paper and its colorful illustrations. I imagined my daughter voicing these words. I heard each phrase clearly: aide-moi... pousse-moi... je peux reussir...

I listened as her voice drifted off... as other voices superimposed themselves over her own. I heard the misguided youths in London, their victims, the hungry children, the forgotten, the outcast, the elderly as they echoed my daughter's message: aide moi... car sans amour que serait le monde?

Rereading my daughter's letter, I realized that she speaks for all humanity, young and old, and that what the world needs more than ever is "espoir", "aide", "amour"  for "without love what would the world be?"


Note: To put my daughter's message into context, her petit mot comes just before the beginning of the school year (several weeks from now, but she is already motivating herself...).

P.S.: I have left Jackie's spelling as is (proof that she needs help in school :-). corrected Jackie's spelling in the passage above.

Le Coin Commentaires

Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box.



French Vocabulary

le petit mot = the little note
calligraphie = handwriting

Translation for Jackie's letter:

Mon Plus Beau Cadeau = my most beautiful gift
Je t'aime = I love you
tu me donnes de l'espoir = you give me hope
aide-moi = help me
à avancer = to advance
à réussir = to succeed
pousse-moi = give me a little push forward
Je peux réussir = I can succeed
cette année grâce à toi = this year, thanks to you
j'ai confiance en toi = I trust in you
je t'aime tellement = I love you so much
Car sans l'amour que serait le monde? = For without love what would the world be?


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Reminder: SUMMER BREAK! The next edition of French Word-A-Day goes out the week of August 22nd.

Meantime, I highly recommend the book that I have just, sadly, finished. Read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks!!! You learn so much, laugh and cry so much... It'll leave you thinking. Félicitations to the writer, whose prose touched me deeply. Order Rebecca Skloot's book here

Random Stories: Click on the links to read these anecdotes

Enfance: An Arizona Childhood

"Harvest Widow": on following my husband's dream

Tel Quel: My Rock-n-Roll sister-in-law 

My Mother-in-Law, Aging, and Elvis 


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A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
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