Say ride share or car share in French: covoiturage
Smokey in his Speedo for the ALS Ice bucket challenge: Le defi du seau glacé pour ALS.

"Bed sheet" in French: On teaching your kids last-minute lessons


While out on a scenic walk with Smokey, we spotted this watercolor artist and his lazy hammock. But cloth swings aren't the topic of the day... sheets are! So read on....

un drap (drah)

    : sheet

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc Download MP3 or Wave file

Plier vos draps-housses au lieu de simplement les ranger tels quels est un moyen pratique d’organiser vos draps et de garder un maximum de rangement. Folding your fitted sheets instead of simply putting them away "as is" is a practical way to organize your sheets and to save a maximum amount of space. -Comment Plier Un Drap Housse

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Passing my daughter in the hallway, I notice she is carrying a bundled sheet. I watch her open the nearby buffet and cram it in among the stacks of bedding stored there.

"Pas si vite! No so fast!" I say, wagging my finger.

"But it's clean!" Jackie argues. She's only used the drap housse two nights--when she and her best friend took over her brother's new studio in Aix.

"Yes, it is, and you are right to put it back," I say, congratulating my teenager on her consideration. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when I would deliver a stack of freshly-washed and line-dried clothing to her room only to find it back in the laundry basket after the clean clothes ended up on the floor--mixed in with the rest!

Thankfully those days are over. Only now Jackie needs to learn how to fold a fitted sheet. "I'm going to show you an astuce!" I say, bracing for my daughter's resistence. But before she can roll her eyes, I play the sentimental card:

"...Your great-grandmother Audrey taught me this one...."

My student is now willing, if not super enthusiastic. "Here take this," I say, shaking out the bundle. "Now find one corner and poke your index finger in its seam!" 

Jackie is less triumphant when she locates the stitched coin, but I won't let her boredom dampen things. "There! Now, in the same way, reach over and locate another corner seam. Then join your fingertips!" 

I manage to drop the sheet during the demonstration. Reaching to pick it up, I hear my daughter rouspéter with impatience.

"Jackie, this trick will come in handy one day. Imagine two years from now when you are in college....

My girl is not sold on the homemaking tip so I add some key words.

"When you are in school in Boulder you'll have a little place rien que pour toi. Then you'll be happy to organize your living space and this tip will help." I shake out the fallen sheet, but my daughter groans. Apparently a sheet-folding demonstration is as painful as a tooth-pulling!

Normally at this point I give up and do it myself. But this time I take a good long look at my almost seventeen-year-old. Her grumblings turn to silly faces as she tries to coax me out of a serious mood.

Gripping the sheet the words pour out of me. "Jackie. LET ME BE YOUR MOM.... I have so much catching up to do. So many things to show you before you finish growing up."

My eyes begin to sting and, blinking them, I feel my daughter's arms around me. Her tender voice is a lullaby:

Maman, pleure pas....

*    *    *

It's a day later now and, after the tears, c'est le sourire. Do you know, dear daughter, that when your brother was little, he used to say the same thing only with difficulty? 

"Peur pas!" he would say to you, his newborn soeurette. And now you are almost grown. Big enough to stay overnight in Aix at your brother's new digs! Max will be leaving home in a few weeks, taking over the apartment permanently, and I wonder how things will be then? Will we feel the void?

Peur pas! I hear Max's little voice. I remember it so well! And now I imagine his current 19-year-old voice: "Pleur pas, Maman. I'm leaving you my sister. And my laundry, weekly."

My nostalgic daydream bursts when I remember the 10-pound laundry bag delivered just this morning. Well! If he thinks I'm going to continue to be his personal laundress he's got another thing coming: Mom's Sheet-folding lessons. The full, unedited, teeth-pulling version!

French Vocabulary

une astuce = a tip, trick, trade secret
le coin = corner
rouspéter = gripe, grumble, moan
rien que pour toi = all for yourself
le sourire = smile
la soeurette = little sister
peur pas = fear not

sunflower seeds growing in the backyard
 After posting here, I love to go over to Instagram and upload the latest photos of our home and garden. You'll see Smokey, Chief Grape, the "kids", Jules, and the local environment here on a vineyard near Bandol. Click here to see the latest images.

Readers Comments

This comment from Cathy, in response to my covoiturage post, made me smile. It might encourage you to check out BlaBlaCar when next in France.

Having read concerns people have posted I have to say that what sold me originally on the service was that I was able to read reviews. Reviews of both drivers as well as of passengers. You can see how long someone has been a driver, what kind of car they drive. Drivers can check out passengers. I will always choose a veteran driver if I have a choice. I chose my first driver because he had positive reviews and one said he had transported their rabbit. Haha! That's who I wanted!! Turns out he's a Marseilles detective that lives in Perpignan do transits twice a week. So doing some research in advance and you can avoid a lot of surprises. Yes, it was a bit odd to climb into a car with three strange men at 1:30 in the morning at a parking area at a highway exit. But that miracle ride took me directly to Barcelona airport for a 6 am flight. Hip hip hooray for Blah Blah Car and the people who use it!

    To read the covoiturage post, click here.

Enjoy many more photos of France at Instagram

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Deboarh Auclair

I thought I would never get beyond the wonderful memories of my girls growing up......never beyond the position of teacher/nurse/friend/confidante....a/k/a mom. For some of us women being a mom is the most wonderful privlilege and gift and we can not imagine life beyond that treasured oasis in life......but I am on that other side of the wall now. Both girls age 22 and 25 are living on their own. Let me just say that it is ok here. The memories flood in and take hold sometimes. The tears well up......but what I have now are two of the very best friends that I could ever hope for. Fear not the change......peur pas

Bruce in northwest Connecticut

The photo at the top looks like a painting. Amazing! (I'm too emotional right now to comment on the essay — despite the laugh at the end. Nicely done!)


Le sourire.

Linda R.

Your photo of the watercolor artist is more like a painting than a photo. Lovely in any event.

Catharine Ewart-Touzot

it is difficult, my two a year apart, both left the same to the army and the other to college..but still today more than 20 years later I think of all the times the laundry has been dropped off..their children are almost to the age when they will be off..a never ending process I guess; and I have to wonder how many times they will be needed in the next 20 years...guess that is the lesson learned, the time goes so quickly, so much to much to learn.


Well, you've made this momma cry, with similar memories & thinking of my sweet daughter living her dream in Germany.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
The top photo is great! Maybe your Mom could paint it! I have to admit that I just recently learned how to fold a fitted sheet. I watched a Martha Stewart video. How did I live this long not knowing how to do this? I would shove it in a folded clump in the closet. You all will miss Max but he is close enough that you can go and visit! Boulder will be farther but she will have a great time and you will just have to jump on a plane and then visit your Mom while you are in the U.S. too!


I love your stories of the tender moments with your children. I have been where you are, and I missed them all when they left for college, but I love my grown up children. They're the people I most want to spend time with, and now...I have my grandchildren to love too.


Betty Jacob

I told my sons they had to learn to do their own laundry, or they would have to get married. A trick I learned about sheets is to fold them and store a set, top, bottom inside a pillow case. It keeps the sets together and we use it at a homeless shelter.

Cynthia Lewis

What a precious memory you have of Max saying "peur pas" to his baby sister. I loved today's story ... good thing I keep a box of tissues on my desk! Amitiés.


Your lesson in practicality and love made me teary too -- and I'm not even a mom. (Small correction: toward the end, it should be "he's got another think [not thing] coming."


I wish you had posted a video of that lesson on how to fold a fitted sheet! Unfortunately, I never learned to do that! No matter how carefully I try to fold them they always turn out looking like some sort of unformed bundle.

Karen from Phoenix

I also still have a hard time folding a fitted sheet. Sometimes I will fold it over and over, others once and that is the way it is!

I still miss my "boys" even though they live close and I do see them often.

Janine Cortell

Chere Kristin:
This is such a sweet story. It brought tears to my eyes and so many memories of all the emotion I felt when my daughters left home for college.
They are both married now and I have a 9 year old grandson who is now teaching ME a few things about new world technology. How things have changed, Janine

Chris Allin

Dear Kristin,

With each posting, you offer us an interlude from the tumultuous chaos of our world, bringing forth thoughts, feelings, laughter and tears through your insights into everyday life and relationships. What a gift you give your readers, a magical moment that takes us away to another world and brings us back to a real world that seems a little brighter.

R. Jahn

sourire est masculin.

Leslie NYC

This brought back memories of being a 5-year old. My grandmother, in a strangely chipper voice, asked, "Do you want to learn how to make your bed?" Sensing a trap, I answered, "No. That's okay!"

Also, I think "another thing coming" is correct.


Thank you for this wonderful story Kristin! It brought tears to my eyes and is so appropriate for my life right now with my 14 1/2 year old daughter! It is a comfort to know that Mothers struggle with the same issues no matter what country they are living in!!!

I look forward to your posts on IG!!
Bonne journée à toi!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Chris! And to all who send it such encouraging feedback. It is so touching!

Diane Young

I wish I could see a video of the sheet folding. A friend helped me once to fold my laundry and I watched her but still can't do it. Housekeeping has never been my forte. Thank heavens I can cook.
I believe "another think coming" is correct. In other words, if someone thinks something is over, they're wrong - the story isn't finished.
How sweet Max was and is. You seem so young to have children who are approaching adulthood.

Lorrie Kazan

Always wonderful articles. But I'm still trying to figure out how a sheet used twice is considered clean? Am I too American?


Wonderful..the story and the emotion. You gave me tears..but we want them to grow up, don't we?

Kristin Espinasse

Diane, thanks for the explanation. I never thought of this and it makes sense, using *think* twice :-)

Lorrie, I should have added that I would not be using the sheets for guests. But I have no problem reusing (for her own bed or for mine) a sheet my daughter slept on only twice (besides, do we really think she slept? Or was she up all night with her best friend?)

Anne Irons

Folding a fitted sheet is just about my least favorite thing to do.
I'm new to your site and I like it very much. RE: writing fiction__I prefer to read nonfiction because I like to read about real people and real life. This is why I like your site so much.
Merci for all of your thoughts. Anne Irons

Kristin Espinasse

Janet and Cynthia, thanks for the corrections -- and thanks to all for responding to this story. Lynne, Julie responded via Facebook, suggesting a video. Let me see if I can talk Smokey into another mini production.


I had 5 children with 20 yrs between the first and last (last was an added delight) and when the last left I was completely bereft for quite awhile (being menopausal didn't help !) So , reading this brought it all back ...and with tears . Fear not though !! The grandchildren will not be far away !!

Lyn MM

I think we need a video of the fitted sheet folding technique!! Thanks for your momento's of life in France I enjoy them from Australia!

Patricia Sands

Your stories always share such a sweet personal snapshot ... a very special talent. Is that beautiful Port d'Alon in the photo? More sweet memories.


I love your stories and love your photos - but I think I love your 'original photos' the 'mostest' - I think Instagram super saturates the color so they don't seem 'real' to me... but, with that said, I totally know the fascination --- I am so hooked on Pinterest, it's ridiculous - I can't seem to stop! And, now I'm also changing a bunch of my own photos using Waterlogue and Brushstroke.. so playing is always fun! Please continue to share a couple of iPhone or camera pics in your stories AND have loads of fun on Instagram - we want it all!!! Especially, your fabulous stories, your writing is so wonderful!

Kristin Espinasse

Janet, I think *thing* is correct. (I keep rereading the sentence, wondering if I am not seeing the mistake... :-)

Did anyone catch any other errors? Thanks for reporting them!


Our dear Kristi,
You brought tears to my eyes today.
This is exquisitely written and makes us ,your extended FWAD family,again know how privileged we are to share in your life.
THANK YOU for wrapping us all in hugs.
Natalia XO

Kristin Espinasse

Patricia, you guessed it: the photo was taken in Port dAlon!

Judi, Love your suggestion to continue with the natural photos... and let loose over at instagram with all the filters. Will work on this. 

Natalia, as always, Your words wrap me in hugs (to borrow your expression)

Thank you for taking the time to respond to this post!

Mary Breeding

Kristen, it is hard to imagine that Max is 19 and moving out. It seems like only a short time ago you were telling us of your young son's mischievous antics. How long have you been writing Word-a-Day?

By the way, I smiled when I read "another thing coming"' too. I had always heard it as "another think", as in he'd better "think again."

Love your wonderful stories, as I have for years. Please keep them coming.
Mary B, Tucson, AZ

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

If that is what you think, you've got another think coming -- a phrase that is over 100 years old in the US

The little debate here got me looking it up, as I always it heard it said -- another think. But the first part of the sentence was there, too, so it was clearer. Intentionally ungrammatical, but clear.


The second source says thing is replacing think -- I suppose from people not saying the first part of the phrase, so it all makes sense.

I did not figure out how to fold fitted sheets until I was living on my own, so your daughter ought to feel lucky to be shown how to do it, and in a lesson from her great grandmother! That is rare.


Kristin, that photo is mesmerizing. It looks like a painting of the painter and his setup. Like you, I also wouldn't have a problem re-using (on my bed, not for our guests) sheets that have only been used for two nights. I love reading your nostalgic stories of your life when your children were little. As a mom of two very rambunctious young boys, the days can seem to drag on forever as I try to 'get things right.' Yet, reading your stories, I'm reminded about how fast time truly flies, and that we should make the most of these precious days, with all their soft and not-so-sweet episodes. Thank you!


Enjoyed your lesson on folding un drap as the lesson unfolded. Comme toujours! Fred


Teach them! Everything you know even if it is a tough lesson. They will be thankful that you did. Freshman year at the dorm I was doing my laundry in the coin operated machines. In came a girl with a sheet full of dirty clothes - almost everything she owned. She was very shy and embarrassed to have to ask me to teach her how to do her laundry. But she did and I was thankful that my mother had taught me. Dirty clothes like teeth are a fact of life and we all need to be taught how to deal with them. You are doing a great job. This site teaches them about creativity, patience, completions and beginnings, successes and failures. You are doing a great job.


Peur pas! Thank you for teaching me that.

Susan Wardell

I love your posts and your photos! Makes me miss France so much! For those who wished for a video showing how to fold a fitted sheet, there are several on YouTube. 😊


Had to smile: Kristi, you've been in France too long!! You didn't "cross" your daughter in the hall, you "bumped into"
Lovely anecdote....the pre-emtpy-nest syndrome slotting in...... So tender and touching. LOVE it.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for catching that, Maureen. So helpful. And funny to think of the influence France has had on my speech!

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