La Maladie des Amoureux
Promesse de vente and the Town we are Moving To!

Curfew in French

christmas tree ornaments in Cassis south of france
The spirit of Christmas in the seaside town of Cassis.

TODAY'S WORD: le couvre-feu

        : curfew

ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word:
Download Couvre-feu

Couvre-feu. Quand vous étiez jeunes, vos parents vous ont-ils imposé un couvre-feu pour rentrer avant minuit? Curfew. When you were young, did your parents impose a curfew for you to return before midnight?

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

After waiting on my daughter hand and foot over the weekend, and enjoying so much closeness since she's been away for school, all such tenderness abruptly ended yesterday and I have been sulking ever since. It began when Jackie informed me she and her friends were going to drive to Aix-en-Provence to pick up her car.

"But that's not possible," I said. "The doctor says you need to rest and stay home. Besides, what you have is contagious!"

"I need my car! Papa already said I could go...."

"Oh, really?..." I said, mentally kicking Jean-Marc in the butt. "We'll see how you feel tomorrow. And if you do go, you need to be back by nightfall."

"So you are imposing a couvre-feu?" Jackie smiled. With that, we both laughed and settled back into our program -- SNL sketches with the amazing Kristen Wiig!! (I have just discovered this multi-talented comedian who has gotten me through a difficult season.) Laughing IS the best medicine! But now that I have watched all YouTube videos with Kristen Wigg, I have run out of laughter when I need it most....

The current war I am in with my daughter began with a phone call from Jean-Marc, who was busy pruning in the vineyard. "I've just spoken with the doctor and there's bad news," my husband informed me.

"What what! It's about Jackie? WHAT! Tell me!"

"Calm down!" Jean-Marc said. "She is OK. But she will need to continue to rest...and will not be going to her friend's birthday party on Friday."

Thank God she was OK, but, oh! I could just see this coming. If Jackie could not go to her friend's party, then surely she could not go to Aix to get her car. All this equaled the end of the world for our 19-year-old -- and WORLD WAR THREE for us! This, by the way, brings us back to the term "curfew" or couvre-feu in French. It literally means "fire cover". The couvre-feu is for villagers to return home -- out of the line of fire when the enemy comes.

Entering my daughter's bedroom it looked like a war zone. The curtains were drawn and the darkened room was carpeted with Kleenex.  Empty glasses and soup bowls littered the floor beside my patient's bed. But she wouldn't be in my care for much longer....

"I am sorry, but you cannot go to Aix today... or to Pauline's birthday party tomorrow night. Doctor's orders!"

As expected, my nineteen-year-old fought the decision: "Mais oui j'y vais!! Oh yes I'm going! I am not tired! I feel fine!  What does the doctor know!"

"You had better call your friends right now and tell them not to come pick you up--or I will call them myself!" I said (having no idea how to contact said friends!).

On and on we sparred, one of us defiant and the other slamming doors in her Mama Bear way. I would return to my daughter's room a few more times, intent on getting the respect I deserved! -- only to be thrown out each time.  "Sors de ma chambre! GET OUT!"

The injustice! After all I've done for her!  And this is the thanks I get for caring!! (Slam! Slam! Slam!) I hated to lose my temper. Anger eventually turns inward, and we are disgusted with ourselves and very sad in the end. All the good we have done is erased--in one fell slam--from the blackboard of life.

"Don't get so down!" Jean-Marc said, after I'd sulked all afternoon. By last night the enormous lump in my throat choked and pulsed, releasing a stream of warm tears that soaked my pillow.

"But she KNOWS I am hurting! Why won't she comfort ME! Why doesn't she care about MY feelings?"

"I didn't think about my parents when I was 19. Did you?" Jean-Marc challenged.

The sweet faces of my parents came to mind. Mom would be all alone in Mexico this Christmas (here the lump in my throat pulsed again!). No, I didn't think about my parents then. But I do--and have for a long time now!

"Why don't you tell Jackie you're sorry?" Jean-Marc suggested.

"Well, not right now!" As sad and angry at myself as I was, I still needed my daughter to apologize first. It was a matter of respect! Besides, I'm the one who is hurting! She is upstairs chatting away with her friends! I can hear her laughing!

"She feels as bad as you do. She just doesn't know how to say she is sorry yet. But she is thinking about it." Jean-Marc explained.

I had not considered that she might feel bad.  She can be such a toughey.... but beneath it there is that tenderness I know so well. It is time, now, to warm some soup--and make a peace offering. Mama Bear is back--along with the spirit of Christmas.

*    *    *

Christmas decorations in France window teddy bear

Baptême_la ciotat 054
Two tougheys (how do you spell tuffy?). Jackie and her brother, Max, in Marseilles, when they were little.

Kristi and jean-marc in cassis south of france christmas tree
Happy holidays from Mama and Papa Bear.

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O Kristi ... how I identify with your feelings! We've got a 40 yr old son still living at home with a lifestyle that is the complete antithesis of everything we value :-(

Incidentally, "couvre-feu" is of course the derivation of our English word "curfew" and relates to the cry of the watchman in medieval times to extinguish (or cover) the lights (fires) at a certain time in the evenings.

Hank Sweet

Lovely picture of you two! :)
Happy Xmas


Kristi - your post brought back such memories. When our daughter was a freshman in college she developed mono too. She absolutely refused to come home. I had to drive the 90 miles to get her while arguing on the phone the whole way. I brought her home (she could barely walk, she was so weak). She recovered fairly quickly and returned to school before I felt it was wise. She is now 34 with two children of her own. We're very close, but still have occasions where one or both of us has hurt feelings. I totally identify with your feelings. I think it is the other side of loving someone so much. But, even during the difficult times, isn't it wonderful to have a daughter?


So sorry. It' a miserable illness though very very common at this age. But so glad you do still have some influence on your daughter at 19. It's a really difficult age especially when they have flown the nest to study away from home. They say love is letting go, but easier said than done. You sound like a lovely and loving mother. Just keep on loving, it's all you can do. And yes, say what you think and hope it's accepted. A big hug from me. For all of you.

Suzanne Dunaway

Does this child of 19 not reaize that mono is very, very contagious to HER friends. A friend would not give a friend mono at Christmastime or anytime. I think the doctor needs to step in with a lecture.
No, we did not think of our parents enough, but I could not more tell my mother to get out of my room than fly to the moon....children have changed.

Sally Smyth

Hi Kristi and the happiest of holiday wishes to you and your family, in Mexico or Provence. When I lived in Nice back
in the 50's, Christmas in France was divine, unique, so fun, so beautiful, then and for sure, now! How I would love to be back there of the holidays! I empathize with you when dealing with your daughter, son and Papa Bear! Now, after many, many years, I am reminded of les bons vieux temps when my boys were younger and still at home (they are now 50 and 49 and living in CA), and chaos was the norm. Now, so many years later, while listening to the old song of how "horrible" I was, these were/are my words in my own defense... "If I ever did anything that you felt was injurious or inauthentic or, in your minds, failing in your comfort and/or care... I FORGIVE MYSELF"!! Be dramatic, say is slowly so they can feel your intensity and resolve. IT WILL SHUT THEM UP FOR GOOD!
With these comments, I wish you a super duper day and send much love your way! ss

Faye LaFleur

Knowing you are doing the right thing - couvre-feu - says you are a good parent...get over it, mom, she is still a child and is just lashing out because that is what they do! When she is a mother, she will be grateful, if not before!

Happy Holidays to you and your family, Kristi!


Merry Christmas!! Loved your story. Hang in there. Daughters are the best & worst of times! It gets better as they get into their twenties. Trust me, & remember all is grace.


The word "curfew" comes from the French phrase "couvre-feu", which means "fire cover". It was later adopted into Middle English as "curfeu", which later became the modern "curfew".[3] Its original meaning refers to a law made by William The Conqueror that all lights and fires should be covered at the ringing of an eight o'clock bell to prevent the spread of destructive fire within communities in timber buildings.[4]

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

All of us moms have been where you are! Sometimes I just have to say to myself, "you are the are the parent, go and make peace and be the first one to forgive." I have talked with other friends and we all seem to think that mother and daughter relationships can be very difficult. More so than mother and son. Sometimes I think things are going along well and then bam! I wonder what I said! haha....There is a funny commercial on here in the states...I think it is a Campbell's Soup commercial. The daughter tries to sneak in the front door very late at night and go up the stairs. The dad is in the kitchen eating soup obviously up late waiting for his daughter. Flashes back to the daughter climbing the stairs and the loud popping sound of bubble wrap...flashes to the dad laughing in the kitchen. He had put bubble wrap on each step! LOL

edie schmidt


We love our children and always want the best for them even when they can't or don't want to
accept it. Being a mother of a son, I'm sure your mother-daughter relationship is more complicated than the relationship you have with your son. But this too will pass.

Wishing you and your family a Joyeux Noel!

Edie from Savannah


I love that explanation. Thanks for sharing this!

Carolyn Chase

Three of the most difficult words to say in English: I am sorry!!!

God gave us "Forgive me" to help that along.


I wonder if the parents of Jackie's friends know that they plan to be in close contact with someone suffering from a highly infection disease. Probably not -- children give parents only the information that suits their purposes! But I imagine that if they did know (the parents) they'd put a stop to the car expedition and be angry if Jackie turned up at the party.

Patricia Sands

Family life! Joyeux Noël, Kristi ~ may your family's be merry and bright!

Beth Fiacco

Aww Kristi - I'm sorry your hurting and have so much on your plate. You took the high road by holding out the peace offering once again, something you won't regret. Thinking of you in this season of your life and in the Christmas season - blessings and peace and joy to you ♥


Ah, teenagers. What more can I say? They own the world-their world. Merry Christmas and good health to all of you (especially Jackie!)

Jules Greer

Kristi Darling - I could tell you some stories about being 19, or even 17 and 18. Perhaps
I should get permission from your charming Dad Kip before I tell all. I was 19 when I met
your Papa and living alone with Heidi. My parents weren't like you and Jean-Marc although I
am sure they loved me. You must try to let go, Jackie is an adult. She will learn the hard
way that her decisions will guide her life. But thanks to God even our bad decisions can
and have for me become my greatest blessings. I love you Darling - relax and focus on your life with your beautiful and loving husband Jean-Marc. And don't worry about me all alone
here in Mexico...I am right where I am supposed to be right now.

Today I turned Boo-Boo out into the arena at 7 a.m. I am happy and God is giving me the strength and health to move forward.

Tonight I have my first guests to my casita....I am going to set the stage for a little
Mexican horse trading....please pray for my success.

XOXO - Mom


Comment dit-on "You've met your match,"
Eh bien, Maman, C'est vraiment ça!


Well the good news is she does sound a lot better! All that energy! I know it is hard when we know what is best and they don't! However, she must be feeling pretty well to even consider going out and I am happy with that!!


Listen to your mom, she is a wise women.
Merry Christmas and the very best of New Years to you and your wonderful family.
P.S. It wont be long until your children think to themselves. I should have listen to mom. It's the circle of life.


Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!
and thanks for your interesting, insightful blog.
Did you cut your hair, it looks nice and classic!❤️


Jackie's doing a California Roll through one of life's Stop Signs. Some people get away with it, but I never do. Try a little tenderness with this "tough" driver, Mme. Ourse! Bonne chance et je vous espère beaucoup de succès avec des pourparlers de paix!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you,  Bill,  and thanks,  Ian! 


Happy Christmas to you and your family! And peace be with you. ( :

Susan M.

Dear Kristi and Jean Marc,
Your comments took me back to some bouncy times with my son some 20 years ago. What I would say in a similar situation was that I apologized for losing my temper, but that I would not back down on my stand. That usually re-opened the conversation.

As for intimacy feeling shattered, remember that she had been living independently and now that she feels a bit better she's trying to reclaim it -- however gracelessly she did it.

Perhaps her behavior is also a confirmation that she feels loved and cared for so much that she can feel safe to be a bit bratty. In my family the last feeling I could have ever expressed was any sort of anger or dissatisfaction with my parents.

I think you have a very wise husband who has very thoughtful insights.

I leave you both with a wish for a peaceful holiday season and new year, and a hope that you may discover some unexpected sweetnesses as you move through it.

joie in Carmel

She has energy....hmm. Did she get antibiotics for the "necrotic" throat which I suspect was strep throat? And did she start feeling better within 48 hours after starting them? Did she have a fever? Were the lymph nodes in her neck swollen? And did she have a blood test to confirm mono?How energetic is she besides wanting to go to a party because one usually does not start feeling a bit better that quickly. So she is either trying to put one over on the parents or she had just the strep throat. If it is mono, the sore "strep throat" does not go away with antibiotics. Either way the rule in our house was: "You are living/staying under our roof, you follow our rules" And that meant curfew at times, and if we were going to be late for that curfew we called(no cell phones then) and not at the last minute because one usually knows they are going to be late. It worked for us and it worked for my sister's daughter who is now 40 and still calls when she is visiting here with family.


There are no words for how hard this stage of a daughter’s life is on us moms. She’s just gotten her first taste of being her own person and making decisions like her amazing maman has always done. So she’s fighting what feels like being put back into the little girl role. You, on the other hand, being rightfully proud of having given your entire life to her service, are affronted because she seems to be looking for every opportunity to escape you, to be free of you – even putting others in harm’s way to do it. You feel like she could at least te lancer un os (throw you a bone) by way of a first apology, but instead you find yourself being forced to quit her cold-turkey, not knowing when or if your little girl will ever come back.

You’re very obviously right about whether or not she should go out -- and you learned that by making your own mistakes and learning from them, a long time ago. She’ll learn too, she’s had a very loving teacher.

Anne Umphrey

Oh, how I remember those times when my daughter was that age and trying to fly the coop, but then not wanting to. To make it more of a trial I was going through that difficult time of life when the body was changing, hormones and so on. My heart goes out to you and to Papa Bear who has to live with two women. Have heart, it does end. Now my daughter and I are best of friends. Think of you and your own mother. I'll bet there were times when you and she were at odds with one another. And, now, think of how you enjoy each other's company. Warmest regards, and best wishes for a happy holiday season and a peaceful and positive new year.

Paul Guerin

A very Merry Christmas to you two too....btw how did you get to stand so close to Liam Neeson?

Joanne Pearson

To quote the title of a great book, "Parenting Isn't for Cowards." Those we are closest to have the greatest power to hurt us. She knows you love her.


You had better enforce the rest. I have a friend (late 40's) dying from a rare incurable brain disease because - or so he has been told by doctors - because he didn't rest up from mono while in college. True story.


Hang in there Mama Bear! My son is coming home tomorrow after his first semester, so I'm bracing myself for a few weeks of family fun and teen hijinks! Now that you've seen Kristen Wiig's skits on SNL, you should check out Kate McKinnon's work. She is also hilarious, and can brighten those cloudy days. Wishing you and your family a beautiful holiday.


The relationship between mothers and daughters can be very complicated and highly emotional, and it can extremely challenging for a 19-year-old to stay at home and rest when all she wants to do is spend time with her friends. And of course, as parents, we want our children to trust us to know what is best for them. I'm sending a big hug to both you and Jackie.

Patience in L.A.

A comment from Jules is a most welcome posting. I remember when you posted regularly and always in CAPITAL letters. They were a perfect addition to the word of the day. We all wish you a healthy and happy New Year. Your new adventure is one we want to follow. Life is never without change and how we meet each new one can be an amazing adventure. Being Kristi's mom is a blessing in life. And she is blessed to have you.

Margie Mawson

Ohh wow... memories.. 4 daughters were my joyous lot in life. When she's al grown up and married, you will both have and share (with her husband) ...her heart, in an unspoken yet knowing continuum of love

Betty Gleason

Jackie is so blessed to have parents that love her & want only good for her. I was diagnosed with mono in high school, but my mother for whatever reason, never told me. So I did not have the enforced rest. Consequently, I had the thickest file in the college infirmary & had to leave college with some mysterious illness. Tell her this is the rest of her life she is gambling with.
Hugs for being great parents & you shouldn't tolerate your daughter speaking to you like that in your own home. After all, it is really your room, not hers.

Betty Gleason

I met the hematologist in the grocery store months later & he asked my how my mono was. Surprise!

Tom Walker

Hi, Kristi,
Enjoy your blog - gives me a chance to have a little encounter with French from time to time.
I think you got a little off track in your discussion of the etymology of "couvre feu" ==> "curfew."
In the old days, when it was time to turn in for the night, householders had to literally cover or bank the fire in the stove or fireplace, to reduce the chance of a burning ember going astray & starting a house fire, which could be catastrophic. In those times where there was really no lighting, that usually happened when it got dark. For a number of reasons, anyone who was out & about would need to get back home at about dark, or "couvre feu" time.


Our dear Kristi,
Another post that is not only a gem (!) but wraps itself around our hearts.
How fun it is to remember back to being 19!
Thank you for giving us this wonderful reminder!
Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family.Joyful blessings in abundance!
Natalia. Xo


Kristi -

Mon deiu! You really need a break. Our 2016 has been a real trial and I know your's has been, too!

Of course, as regards your daughter, you must figure into your calculations just how sick she is right now. That alone can skew her attitude.

And J-M is so right; few of us have any clue as to how our actions affects our parents (or anyone else, for that matter!) at that age. Most of us are still like infants; far too self-involved to understand our actions...

That said, Jackie does need to heal. It can be almost incomprehensible for young people to face sickness and mortality, as for many it is the very first time they have. And it certainly isn't "cool" for her to admit this to her friends. But you must fight her instincts to get back into the flow too soon. Maybe a clear explanation of the dangers of burst spleen and sepsis would help?

Suzanne in Monroe, NJ

My first semester of college I developed pleurisy in December. I was too sick to think about going out during the holidays but I did have a few go rounds with mom at that age. And JM is right, she's thinking about herself and has not yet learned how important it is to apologize. It feels like admitting deafeat at 19. My Dad was the mediator who convinced me to apologize and, yes, to respect my Mom. He did it gently and in a way that I knew how much he loved both of us. I write this as a light snow falls here in NJ and I can hear my 92 year old Mom moving around upstairs. Wait until she sees the snow! Mothers and daughters argue, fight but have enduring love and eventually friendship.
A wonderful photo of you and JM in Cassis.

Diane Young

Happy Holidays to Mama and Papa Bear and your precious cubs.


all this will pass.... and then after the years go by, you might wish them back!
teenage brains are literally- physically changing, and as parents, our job is to stand by and wait for our children to settle into their own selves.
you are both so lucky to have each other... i lost my mother when i was 20, and didn't have the luxury of these arguments... there are too many of us that attest to identical meltdowns during certain teenage years....
and eventually a mutual love and admiration society ensues.
patience is the virtue here, i think...
you and papa bear look wonderful!
best wishes for a lovely holiday and a very excellent 2017!


Hi Kristi! Teens are tough. In your daughter's view, she is feeling like a caged bird- and just when she had just discovered her wings! Stay sweet and try not to let it get you down. Have a good Christmas! Love the photo of you and Jean-Marc btw. Very Audrey Hepburn/Grace Kelly-esque. Suits you both!


Go heavy on the "It's a bummer that you can't go" angle. Then you can add reminders that she wouldn't want to relapse over Christmas/give mono (or strep, for that matter) to her friends. Conclude with an offer to rent a video or two of her choosing, make a favorite meal, and/or whatever else you think will most convey to her that you are on her side and that her enemy is the disease, not you.

And, as commented above, Epstein Barr is a virus--and they don't generally respond to antibiotics. Strep, on the other had, is a bacterial infection and responds quickly. Which doesn't mean that she can't have both, but might encourage a follow-up consultation.

Cynthia Lewis

Dear Kristi,

I have read many times, and believe it to be true, that we (humans) are not truly developed (mentally) until we are in our thirties. As I look back over several generations of my family, I do believe this to be absolutely true! I include myself in this observation, too.

Jackie has never had a serious illness like mono which requires long term attention and she hasn't quite come to grips with this. Also, she has been blessed with a very secure and supportive home which as a teen (not an adult yet in many ways) does not truly appreciate. All of this is perfectly normal, but hard to accept and deal with. Just remember that you all love each other very much and time will put things in their proper order. Hold tightly to one another.

My best wishes always and may your Christmas be a happy one.

Sarah k

That was a really sweet story. Sending you all the best from the blustery Seattle suburbs. My 7 year old twins sang "Le père Noël est enrhumé" for their French school spectacle aujourd'hui. Adorable.

Donna Grieder

I just saw the Comment about Kate McKinnon. I second it! If she can be persuaded to watch with you you will love to see each other laugh. I always go to old MadTV skits when I need a little silliness.Stephanie Weir as "Dr Kylie" might make that colicky physician look much better :)


This SO much reminds me of my battles with my Jackie, her senior year is h.s. - she had Lyme disease and missed most of fall semester. She was OUTRAGED that I would not allow her to take her driver's test until all of her school work had been completed. (She may have had the last laugh - she completed the work, passed the driver's test, and promptly totaled out car! Thankfully no injuries to people.) Parenthood is one amazing crook in the path after another!


Kristi, like all of the other mothers who have already are an amazing mom with a great sense of humor. We have all bee there with our daughters. Hang in there and enjoy the holidays.

betty Tuininga

Happy Holidays to you and your Family... Nineteen years olds are "invincible" and just dont realize that this nasty ailment can show up in your blood long after you are feeling well...i wish you extra patience as she recouperates!

Love to you alll Thanking of Jules as welll

Therese Powers

Thank you for that! I love to know the etymology of words.

Barbara Michels

Kristi you look beautiful as always but I can see the lines of stress on JM's face. I pray that soon all will be eased for you. Joyeaux Noel.

Fred Caswwell

I so hope you get to read this! First, HAPPY BLEATED BIRTHDAY wishes; you are beautiful and John-Marc is so wise. Secondly, mille mercis for still another touching blog artistically crafted.

Susan Carter

You have explained my recent feelings so well. The anger that turns inward into guilt and anger at self. Human nature is a funny thing. I hope Christmas was wonderful for your whole family, Jackie is well and your 2017 is filled with good health, love and lots of hugs.

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