The spirit of Christmas in the seaside town of Cassis.
TODAY'S WORD: le couvre-feu
ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word:
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?
Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or Exercises in French Phonetics
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 black board 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 which 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.
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Two tougheys (how do you spell tuffy?). Jackie and her brother, Max, in Marseilles, when they were little.
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