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La Vie en Rose: Babysitting the strawberries

Nowadays there’s a lot of ‘main character’ talk. One woman who has not only understood the assignment, but puts to shame all other competing candidates – is Strawberry. That is not her real name (to avoid defamatory claims) but it is close enough in nature. Strawberry is tall, stone-like (giving deceptive illusions of elegance and grandeur) and resides in a two-floor castle apartment in front of the Eiffel tower. And much like a strawberry, she entices you in only to leave you with a more-often-than-not bitter after-taste. I somehow ended up in this castle, sweating profusely, explaining to Givenchy-draped Strawberry that I will make sure her children don’t die and, with equal urgency, that they both consume their specific apple compotes straight after school, after washing their hands with the blue – not the vanilla Chanel one (because it’s hers) – soap. 

A couple months ago, when I got to Paris, I saw all the Parisian girls wearing suede New Balance trainers. I had no taste for these revoltingly (and gratuitously) suede creps – why suede? So unnecessary. But with the same mindset I imagine I had two years ago, when purchasing flared leggings I had just spent a month condemning, a week ago I decided that I too needed the abhorrent suede New Balance trainers. I’d like them soon enough. Just like three years ago I’d like coffee if I force fed it to myself every morning without fail. Just a matter of faking it in order to make it. (I now have it as a calming, nocturnal beverage to ease my insomnia). After a long and surprising conversation with Babbo Bank, in which he informed me that I was a spoilt privileged brat who needs to get off her arse because (heavy Italian accent) “I-a am no longer going-a to fund-a your consumeristic-a and capitalistic-a tendencies” and some similar utterances that to me just equated to the vivid image of suede New Balance trainers with a big red cross plastered atop them – I realised that I was somehow going to have to conjure up my own dosh. Also, because these trainers weren’t the only things on the list of abhorrent items  that I needed. (A miniscule cartoonesque designer bag is very much in the running).

So, I was egregiously forced into the coaxing arms of English-speaking-girl-hunting Strawberry. And she made me realise a few things. One of them being that there are two expressions that to some people extend beyond mere dictions, but rather are realities: as far as they are concerned, the world does actually physically revolve around their frame. And these people also do genuinely have their heads stuck so far up their buttoxes that they are unaware there is a whole weird and wonderful world out there, with oxygen, flowers and other sentient beings.  I would not be surprised if Mademoiselle Channel 5 Strawberry watched the Truman show, banged her head and then believed she was Jim Carrey on set for the film. As far as she’s concerned all of the other humans on planet earth were plopped onto it as props to ease her little life, and her odious – to put it nicely – children’s. If dad thought I was spoilt he should meet the baby Strawberries. (She also definitely thinks the Eiffel tower was plopped at her doorstep as a fun little amuse-bouche).  

I then embarked on the soul-destroying journey of galloping from one after-school accomplished-child activity to the next (concluded by the meticulously counted, rounded-down coins she took an eternity to abandon – as I watched the pain flash through her eyes each time), all the while under Sisyphus’ boulder of a pink Frozen backpack. I am so brave, truly. And feeling very much like the Common People girl who wanted to live like common people and wanted to see what common people see – only, the kind of common people who do not get spat on by 8-year-olds – I wondered at certain points why I found myself genuinely trying to explain to pudding-bowl haired 10-year-old Hippolyte (again, close enough to his actual name) that I haven’t a clue why one of my eyebrows is higher than the other, followed by some more questions of the sort. Although, I am not sure adding “why” before a demonstration of distaste about one’s features qualifies as a question. Who’d have known that something so small and snotty could make me so insecure. 

At the school gate the demographic was: exasperated Philippine nanny (usually above the age of 40), suede-shoe needing 20-year-old– recently disowned by the Bank of Dad, and a few more Strawberries ranging in shape and size (who finished their Pilates so had some extra time to come and anoint the green gate with a lipsticked grimace I imagine they think is a smile). They stand there and discuss the benefits of having “an English one” rather than “a Philippino” because they can’t teach their kids English. But then again, the young English ones are so careless and are very unwilling to change their university schedule to fit their kids’ judo time slot, which is very unideal and inconvenient. I think you can imagine the awkwardness in the eye contact department between me and the Philippine nanny as we were being examined and reviewed en plein air like zoo animals. 

I’ve just realised how negatively I am coming across. She must have really grated on me, this Strawberry. I am not usually this unforgiving. But when a kid draws penises all over her note book and then runs to her dad screaming “Papa! Papa! Maddy à dessiné ça. C’est quoi?!” (“Daddy! Daddy! Maddy drew this. What is it?”) because yes, the dad stays home, and watches me watch his children for the full four hours. This was followed by  Strawberry coming home and giving me a speech on how “we heard you speak some French and that is not what we are paying you for”, when I tried to communicate basic information to the kids. I would then then receive another speech about how inconvenient my time table was for them and if I could try to find them another babysitter, maybe one of my friends, (followed by a ridiculous amount of messages, chasing me up to find them a full-time English speaking girl who will give up her French degree for Hyppolite to perfect his backstroke) – the cute babysitting work experience begins no longer being so cute.

Ultimately, I genuinely do feel bad for the people who live in these bubbles, because as fun as it may be to live as an alien that floats about above the cosmos, it must be jarring to never get to even touch planet earth (the flowers, the oxygen). Every spaceman in a spaceship needs to come home and I don’t envy the poor Givenchy-draped Major Toms.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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