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dimanche 22 mars 2009

Bad to worse

Well, this has been a crappy year so far, hasn't it? OK, no one's died and we're not homeless (yet?), but in a minor, desperately middle-class kind of way, so far 2009 has sucked, big time.

After a money-worry-ridden January (with a pretty good February, I must admit) and the horrors of our houseguest (we went to see C's teacher - who called my sweet girl "a treasure" - and she said she would try and help C make other, more suitable, friends), we've now hit a long series of craptasticness:

The monster kid may have been responsible for making D's Mac stop working (she might not have been, but it helps me to blame her rather than just random bad luck ;-)) and it took him 5 days to get it back to standard. Then his laptop died (can't blame the kid for that, unfortunately) and it took him another 3 days to get that working again. So even if he had had work, he wouldn't have been able to do it. But of course he hasn't had any real work to do in weeks (months?), so it hardly matters.

Now my printer's more or less stopped working - the paper won't feed in, despite us twiddling with every bit of plastic in sight. So I can't print out my invoices, or at least, not easily.

The car almost blew up on Thursday night - D couldn't get it to turn off, there was smoke coming out of it, bla, bla, bla. A mechanic friend is coming to have a look at it on Monday and has said it could either be a minor problem or a really major problem (no, I'm not taking any bets). If it's the latter, it probably won't be worth getting it fixed given the fact that the car's 10 years old. So, we have no car. And are supposed to be going away for 6 days mid-April with my father. Crap, crap, crap. And a summer without a car here - 12 km from the beach but no public transport going that far - would be horrendous. Not to mention our planned (booked, but not of course fully paid for) holiday 600 km from here in July...

And then there's money. We have had to take out a huge loan (11,500 €) from the bank to pay off one of my debts, plus 6,000 € for roof repairs, plus my VAT bill and to put my private account back in the black. Obviously taking out another loan to pay for a new (second-hand) car seems improbable. My professional account is at death's door, even though I've been working like a fucking slave since God knows when. Lots of people owe me money, but none are paying, so I'll be overdrawn there too by next week. I can't work any more than I am already, and D doesn't seem to be making ANY progress on the "finding a way to earn some money" stakes. He's hopelessly overdrawn just about everywhere, has no work in view and doesn't seem to act on any of the advice he gets for finding any. I despair, I really do. And I loathe being the sole breadwinner in this house - the responsibility is eating me up inside.

Health - D's got some kind of stomach flu and me, I've got a weird nose problem - inside my right nostril really hurts and the whole tip of my nose has swollen and turned red, making me look like Bozo the Clown. And I still keep on sneezing, day and night, night and day.

Stuff to do - my accounts haven't been done for almost a year (gulp) so I have to do all that - which means finding bank statements, invoices, receipts, etc. from the various mountainous heaps of crap piled up everywhere - and fill in all my tax forms etc. by 20 April. Less than a month away. And I'm absolutely overwhelmed with work and have no time whatsoever to do it. And I'm really, really starting to freak out.

And finally, there' s money. Oh, did I already mention that? Oops. Must be kind of obsessing about it, I guess.

Holy guacamole. I sure hope this year gets better soon...

samedi 14 mars 2009

Life after...

C is still desperately fragile... When we picked her up this afternoon, she immediately burst into tears and said that A (the kid) had been nasty to her all day, spreading nasty rumours around the classroom, "taking her friends away from her" etc. We told her she has to toughen up a bit, that A does have the right to play with the children in the class and that she, C, has to realise that. As we were leaving, 4 different kids from the class all came up to C and wished her a nice weekend, which proved to me that these kids are no idiots - they can see that A is not a nice kid (some already said they didn't like her at C's birthday party) and, even if they sometimes play with her, that doesn't mean they don't like my sweet baby or that they won't play with her ever again.

Oh, it's so hard. I want to fight her battles for her, give A a slap on the face and give her a taste of her own medicine. But I know C has to learn how to handle this kind of thing by herself. We've both told her that this is the best way to find out who her real friends are - and I already have a suspicion of who some of them may be.

To cap it all, at her swim class this evening, C slipped as she was climbing out of the pool and really banged her top tooth on the tiling. It's moved a little, the gum is bruised and bloody, and she was in pain. My heart just aches for her...

As for L, well, she seems to have weathered the storm. She was back to making a scene every morning at school while A was here, but didn't do it this morning and was in pretty good shape all evening. I just hope her "circus class show" goes better tomorrow than the Christmas one did.

I'm hoping this whole, unpleasant incident will make a) C and L just a little tougher and b) me realise how very lucky I am to have such special little girls (but I knew that already).

vendredi 13 mars 2009


It's over. The monster has at long last gone home after some of the worst days of my life (and I'm only slightly exaggerating).

That kid was the Devil's Spawn. She's totally demolished C and L (who are, it has to be said, over-delicate little flowers, but still. She's destroyed them) who've spent the last nine days crying, trembling, feeling miserable and being defensively difficult.

The kid actually HIT L yesterday - she weighs twice as much, is about 50 cm taller and 4 years older and SHE HIT MY BABY. I went pretty much batshit and then, when D came home, he went totally batshit, calling her grandparents, insulting them (they really don't seem to care how nasty she is - we're like the paid help, not worthy of interest), telling the kid he'd kill her if she ever touched C or L ever again... It was hideous. And she still barely showed any reaction. That kid is made of stone. Sure, she managed to turn on the tears on the phone, but she just stared at D with that insolent face of hers while he yelled at her.

Spent all day praying that her parents' plane wouldn't be delayed. And thankfully it wasn't. They arrived at about 6.30 pm bearing (it's true) beautiful gifts for us all, but that didn't stop us telling them what a tough time we've had, what a difficult kid she is etc. We didn't go all out, saying we hated her, etc. But I think they got the message.

The best bit (perhaps the only good bit) is that C seems to have seen the light. She told me yesterday how much she missed playing with L (can you believe it? The kid prevented the sisters from playing together, despite our many interventions - we'd think they were all playing nicely together but no, in fact she'd be bad-mouthing one and being nice to the other), and then she told me tonight that the kid isn't really her friend any more. About which I am suitably thrilled. I don't mind them playing together in the playground at school, but I don't EVER want her here again, and I even more don't want C to go to her house (it would be worse, I'm sure).

As for me, well, I feel completely washed out. I'm exhausted from all the stress and strain, from the mountain of work I've had this month (and still have looming in front of me) and from just having to deal with possibly one of the most unlikeable kids I've ever encountered.

To be honest, I'm amazed we even got out of this alive.

And I'm really grateful that we did.

dimanche 8 mars 2009

Things are...

...NOT going well.

WARNING: This is going to be one long rant about the worst kid I've ever encountered...And she's only 8...

Holy hell, this is a fucking nightmare! The kid (A) is the Devil's spawn, I swear... She arrived here at about 6.15 pm on Tuesday and we're now still only half way through our ordeal. I'm not sure how many of us are going to get out of this alive...

To say that she's difficult is like the understatement of the century. She answers back, doesn't listen to what you say, doesn't obey, complains about just about every meal we put in front of her ("Oh! That's disgusting! It looks like it's gone off! I can't eat that! I'm going to be sick if I eat that!") and has caused a lot of hurt and misery in our humble little home.

Both C and L are totally out of their depth. A will be really nice (but watch out! Don't trust her!) to one of them and start being really mean to the other. Resulting in tears. And then, on a whim, she'll start doing the opposite. C and L aren't used to manipulation like this and, though I've told them they really shouldn't let A see how much she's getting to them, they're only little, and such basically good little girls, that they cry and are very visibly upset.

But it gets worse.

Since last night (Friday night), A has broken the main structure of L's bed (A is sleeping in L's bed and L's sleeping in our room on a blow-up bed. The bed frame can still be used, but there's now a risk of splinters and the under-bed drawer jams), stopped D's almost brand new, state-of-the-art Mac computer from working (she was "playing with it" without our knowledge and it hasn't worked since), stolen a bar of soap from our local chemist's and almost broken C's neck (I may be exaggerating a little, but the two girls were running and C was in front, so A grabbed C's hair and pulled so hard that C spun backwards and almost fell over). I'm terrified of what might be in store for us in the next 5 days... And can only be thankful that at least 3 of them are all-day-at-school-days.

I swear, this kid is evil. She's a compulsive liar, a trouble-maker, she's two-faced and even more scary when she's being nice.

The only plus point is that perhaps C has figured out that A is probably not the best friend she could have. C went to bed tonight with a sore tummy, which I'm pretty sure is pure stress and tension. She looks pale and drawn, and spent much of today at loggerheads with A (except when A was bitching about L and saying how nasty she is).

I still have a mountain of work, our money worries are getting dire beyond belief (6,000 Euros to pay to get the roof fixed - we don't possess that kind of money, even if you add all our accounts together), I've been doing endless laundry (because of course A cannot ever wear the same clothes two days in a row, including pyjamas, jumpers, jeans...) and my tax form nightmare is looming. But all I can think about is Thursday evening, when this monster will finally go home, never to come back if I have anything to do with it.

I'm thinking that Friday could be a day of celebration chez nous... Assuming we're all still alive, not in a mental institution and not in jail.

mardi 3 mars 2009

Back from the dead (no, England actually)

Yes, I know, we got back over a week ago. But this has been a busy week (and it's only going to get worse - of which more anon) and I really haven't had much free time for writing.

So, the holiday. Well, we had a fantastic time. It was SOOOOOO good to see my two best friends, first J in the south of England, where we stayed for 4 and a half days. C and L get on really well with her two kids, W and E (sweet E is my goddaughter, bless her cotton socks), we did quite a few things - a long walk one day, a trip to the local swimming pool another (where J and I quietly sat in the cafeteria while the two Daddies dealt with the kids: heaven!), down to visit HMS Warrior in Portsmouth on the third day and then lazing about on the last. Had a really good time, though it made me realise just how much I miss J on a day-to-day basis... I really don't feel like I have anyone I can talk to here in France...


Off up to the south of London on the Friday to spend the night with my other best friend, M. Had a lot of fun there, too, even if D and I didn't sleep all that well. In the evening, once the kids were in bed, we watched Mamma Mia! (which the two guys loathed but which M and I enjoyed), in the afternoon we went to Greenwich park and on the Saturday morning we met up with another friend from Uni, K, for coffee before catching our train.

And finally, that train took us up into London from where we caught another train down into Kent to spend the afternoon, evening, night and morning with my cousin. Now, I haven't seen this cousin in probably about 20 years (yes, we're a very close-knit family) so I was a bit apprehensive, but in the end it was great. His mother (my aunt, then) and sister (a cousin I haven't seen since I was 2!) and her husband came round for the evening, we had a lovely time, we were made to feel very welcome and it was all very heart-warming. I'm so glad we've caught up with each other at last - I wanted my aunt to meet her little sister's granddaughters, I wanted C and L to meet their family, I wanted to see them too, and I'm unutterably pleased that we did it.

My cousin drove us to Gatwick on the Sunday morning, we did a little shopping and then came home, tired but happy as they say.

Back to school and work last Monday and it was a truly hectic week.

And as for this week. Well.

First, I have a shitload of work to do - 40,000 words to translate for various dates through the month. Not an undo-able amount in and of itself, but a lot to have already booked up. I just have to pray that not too much else comes in between now and the end of the month!

Second - and this is the real humdinger - the parents of one of C's classmates are flying off on holiday tomorrow and don't get back till 12 March. So the kid is SPENDING 9 DAYS WITH US. Now, she's a nice kid, very open, very self-confident, very extroverted (everything my sweet C isn't). But she's also the weakest student in the class and since the beginning I've been worried about this most unlikely friendship. C has been very odd of late, crying for no (apparent) reason at all, very morose. But she won't say why. And I'm scared that A (the kid), who's almost a whole year older than C, is just too much. I'm sure C is impressed by her and that A likes having such an admiring audience all the time. She also probably likes having a friend who's so good at her lessons. But I don't want people to like my baby just because she's good at her lessons. And I don't want her to stop getting good marks because her friends don't and she wants to be like them.

As you can probably tell, I'm not wild about this friendship. So you can imagine how I feel about having the kid live with us for 9 days... She also apparently needs very little sleep (this, I feel, is doomed for failure given how much sleep C needs and how hideous she can be if she doesn't get it) and I know from experience that having three little girls in the house is usually a recipe for many tears. L will inevitably be left out (pushed aside by C, I suspect) but, when C and A have arguments (and they will, I'm willing to bet on it), A will turn to L and C will go into total meltdown.

I have to say I'm absolutely dreading the next 9 days. And D is equally ambivalent about the whole thing, despite the fact we had a minor spat about it this evening.

I'm so worried about C. Her school work does seem to be dropping a little - she seems content if she gets a better mark than her friend, but as A's marks are generally pretty low, that doesn't mean much. I don't want C to feel under A's thumb, I want her to be friends with other little girls, to develop confidence in herself. She knows she's clever, but, like me, has real self-confidence issues in other areas. She's breaking my heart right now, and seems so small again. My baby's 7 years old, but I haven't seen her this vulnerable since she was a little preemie...

My plan is to somehow go and see her teacher and have a talk with her, see what she thinks. See if she thinks it might be a good idea to split them up next year (I hate saying this - I know I don't really have the right to decide who my little girl is friends with, but it's so tempting to ask them to put them in different classes next year... that way they could stay friends, but wouldn't be as close... Oh, I feel so mean!).

So you get the picture. A hard week (9-day week) looming. And yes, of course, the flat is still a tip - in addition to all my work I have to do some serious cleaning, sheet-changing etc.

I wish I could just fast forward to this time on 12 March...

On a more positive note, we are going to Arles again in April, but with my father this time, so I'm looking forward to that, and I'm trying (no thanks to a crappy website) to book our first ever 2-week holiday for this summer near Saint Jean de Luz. Which looks fab too. Of course, we can't afford any of this (can't afford anything, to be honest - I haven't been this broke in ages. I do wish people would start paying me!), but I'm desperate for a holiday, even though we've only just come back from one...