Illustration source: Melissa M
Everyday I hop on the metro to go to work, I can honestly say that I have no idea what the day will bring me. Perhaps this is the "excitement and adventure" that is working with children, but these little guys keep me on my toes where I can never predict what they will say, or worse, do.
At work, the one thing I really do try to avoid is going to the bathroom. It sounds ridiculous, I know. It just seems like every time I leave them to their own devices for even the hottest second, something always happens where I hear crying or some kind of commotion through the door, and can't push my pee out fast enough. Previous episodes have included an iPad being launched from a top bunk and smashing onto a hardwood floor, Franck punching Thomas in the face, or one of them (no names) standing naked in his bedroom, smearing his own feces on the curtains. (Why the curtains? Does this strike anyone else as an odd choice for placement? It was almost poetic.)
That last event was when I made a vow to eschew any personal after-school bathroom activities. Holding off on drinking water and tea in exchange for feces-free curtains is a decision I have yet to look back on. I have been lucky thus far not needing the bathroom, as my lady friend appeared to follow suit arriving on weekends....until last Tuesday. So, with that kind of set-up, you know this story is going into a very dark place. I forewarned you, this will not be an I love Paris in the springtime post.
I knew that I would be in the bathroom a drop longer than usual, therefore I separated the mini monsters to opposite sides of the table to work on their English homework (serious stuff here: coloring paper cookies for a nail-biting round of Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?) before heading off to manage my business. With an assortment of phrases instructing them to stay put ("Soyez sage, Restez ici, Bougez pas,"), I was confident that my brief absence would be rid of incidents.
There I was, sitting in the miniscule bathroom, so small that I could touch the walls boxing me in without having to stretch my arms out. I learned toward the door expecting to hear hysteria but all was quiet on cookie mountain. Parfait. Finishing up, I sat up and let out a small yelp when I realized that I had not inserted my tampon all the way. (I hate when that happens.) At first I did that dance to maneuver it in place, which never works, before poking it up.
There I was, my pants around my ankle, standing in grand plié, my face scrunched up in the discomfort of having my fingers up my crotch, while the other hand held onto the wall for balance.
And that, was when I looked up to see that Franck had opened the door, catching me literally red-handed. Of course he did. After two years, how did I not call that?
Upon absorbing this horrific scene, he let out his best "Home Alone" scream, slammed the door in my face and ran off. Merde, merde, merde!!!
That day I was wearing my vintage sailor pants and had to button all 15 buttons before addressing this, which only adding to the tension as he wailed on in the living room.
"She's naked!!" I heard him cry to Thomas, "She's in their almost à poil being bizarre! Qu'est-ce qu'elle fait?"
But really, I did not know what to do, I'm not versed in - at least not yet - handling emotional trauma of a five-year-old. Was I supposed to punish him? And if so, for what? Opening the door? Not listening when I told him to stay put? And was I going to have to pay for his therapy sessions? The horror!
Then the second part of this already humiliating experience dawned on me: I would have to explain all of this to his father that night. I couldn't let this one slide in the hopes that Franck would not relay what he saw to his family. They had to hear it from me.
At the behest of Aurélien, whom I called for advice, I spared the father all of the gruesome details and placed emphasis that Franck was very shaken up.
"That was his response when seeing you without pants on?" the father joked, "He cried? Oh là."
I was not at all amused. And it showed.
I am not one to storm out of situations, but my humiliation was mounting by the second. I wished them all a curt bonne soirée before leaving to meet Aurel for a much-needed happy hour cocktail at Chez Vous.
I sometimes can't believe these are snippets of life in my 30s. I always imagined I would be settled into an actual career by now, but I also never predicted I would be married (still so weird) and living in Paris. Take the good with the not so great, eh? These almost two-years working with these kids have been quite an experience, unwittingly preparing me for the day I have my own, however, I am looking forward to the end of my final year in childcare. Mon dieu.