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...