Thursday, December 15, 2011

the trouble with angels

interior of the american church in paris 

The long-awaited Christmas pageant took place on Sunday morning.  We rose early and, with halo and wings in hand, made our way to church.  The Christmas story was reenacted in song and costume by the children of the American Church in Paris.  Annabelle sang ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’, with the rest of the angel posse and posed like a pro when it came time for the photo op.  Where she learned to kneel and pray like an apparition straight out of a Boticelli fresco, we will never know. 

DSC_6010 so angelic…?

Bear with me while I over-share photos from the pageant.  The grandparents wouldn’t have it any other way. 

The ride to church is easy breezy with a side of stale urine.  When we moved to Paris, we traded our roomy Volvo XC for walking shoes and metro tickets.  It’s actually quite liberating to embrace life sans car.  I have never been a fan of driving, anyway.  It saves on gas and affords the luxury of consuming an extra pat of butter here and there. 

DSC_5958  waiting for the metro that takes us to church

Annabelle’s wings and halo set came replete with angelic scepter, which later served as a not so angelic projectile when she unwisely decided to part with it on her way up the aisle during the pageant.  Our little showstopper momentarily halted the nativity procession when she attempted to toss her wand our way and sorely missed the mark.  The people in the row behind us actually ducked.  A ripple of laughter made its way through our section of the sanctuary.  I wanted to melt into the pew right then and there.  Who did she think she was?  Britney Spears, circa 1998, tossing feather boa to her adoring fans?!

DSC_5975 beware of angels wielding pointy scepters

Fortunately, all was soon forgotten, the procession continued and the altar filled with scores of darling children dressed as wise people, shepherds, barnyard animals and Mary and Joseph.  I wiped away a few errant tears as the cherubs and angels choir led the congregation in Christmas carols.  There I was, in the center of Paris, celebrating Christmas in a way that couldn’t have been closer to my heart.  My daughter was a nativity angel, just as I had been as a child.  If my life were a unfinished puzzle, then this was a piece that fit perfectly. 

DSC_5999 joy to the world!

Once the angel costume came off, all bets were off, as well.  Annabelle was in a sour mood and perked up only when she got to do one of her favorite Paris pastimes.  The pressure of the move, a new school and a pesky head cold were enough to take her over to the dark side for a spell.  Granted, Annabelle loves her school and is happy to live in Paris, but she’s still pretty ticked off with us for uprooting her life as she knew it.  It’s one of those things that, as parents, you can anticipate but never really prepare for; particularly when you are unbelievably tired and emotionally drained, yourself.  So, we cope.  And then we cope some more.

DSC_6015 buy them wings at le bon marche and suddenly they think they can fly

The Paris pastime to which I previously eluded was the trampoline pit at Jardin de Tuilleries, adjacent to the Louvre.  The Tuilleries are a sprawling park filled with symmetrical tree-lined pathways and massive marble statues.  The trampolines offer five minutes of fun for two Euros.  Not exactly a steal but Annabelle would attest that it’s worth every centime (penny). 

wear yourself out, kid.

This moving business is tricky where parenting is concerned.  Kids are so stinking smart.  The thing is, the move really is hard on Annabelle.  We know that.  We are trying to do whatever we can to help her work through it.  She’s doing so well at school and we would certainly rather she save her weak moments for us, but holy moly, does she have her moments.  It’s never fireworks with Annabelle.  She excels at the little things.  She gets under our skin.  She finds our tender spots and goes in for the kill.  Softly.  But we keep doling out grace because what else can you do when you’ve jerked your kid across the ocean and asked them to play nice and act normal.  Crackdown time is coming, but in the meantime, there are carousels, trampolines and playgrounds.  Wheeeee!  God help us all.

DSC_6045 just look at that smug little mug.

French playgrounds are the coolest.  The various structures are designated for specific age ranges, from toddler to 12 years old.  The more advanced structures are well-designed to appeal to the older set.

DSC_6049 parisian playground, swiss family robinson-style

DSC_6054 this is when nobody wins

The downside of winter attire is that every photo looks like it was taken on the same occasion.  Every now and then, I remind Naud that I need to be the subject in front of the lens.  He has this irritating fascination with the zoom function, hence the frequent close-ups shots.  Duly note that the bags under my eyes have substantially diminished.

DSC_6060 hello.

Sunday night was our last night in our temporary temporary apartment.  Our next apartment is just temporary, until we find something more permanent.  We weren’t sorry to bid adieu to our tiny, quirky dwelling, with its absurdly loud dryer, electrifying kitchen and silverfish in the bathroom (Annabelle came up with an entire song about silverfish, sung to the tune of ‘Silver Bells’).  After a simple dinner, we fell into our beds, too exhausted to contemplate the next page of our lives in Paris.

One day at a time…

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