Monday, March 31, 2008
On the outside front, in the past week or so the temperature has been edging over the freezing point -during the day, at least- and so the impossibly thick blanket of snow has slowly begun to melt down. Warm weather and heavy rain is expected tomorrow for April Fool's day, and this should speed up the process, but even so it will still take WEEKS for that evasive feeling of spring to set in.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Easter meant a four-day weekend, which meant that we were itchin' to get outta town. Leave the WIN-TER behind. Where else to go but to our favorite place in the world, the Big Apple?
LP was so funny, trying to "chat" everyone up around us in restaurants, flirting with every old lady in the subway, taking in all the sights, babbling incessantly and singing to himself while we were walking down the streets, so giddy and excited we couldn't put him down at night. We were worried that he might lose it after a while since he was spending most of the time in his stroller, and since he tends to be pretty intense and sometimes just explodes when he's out of his confort zone. But he behaved (almost) perfectly the whole time we were there, and we were just so happy, telling ourselves that once you get over the extra packing and the relatively rigid schedule dictated by a toddler, family travelling is so great! It was also easier this time around than when we went to Bermuda in October, when he was 8 months old. Back then, he had seemed to hate the whole trip, especially having to deal with cooing strangers coming up to him all the time. He also needed to nap more, was still breastfed part time, coudn't eat what we were eating, etc.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
But I can’t help myself. I come from a small town 5 hours north of Montreal, where winter really means business. The first snow comes in October, and the last one often surprises people in May. It’s cold, cold, cold, a terrible cold that bites you and prevents you from starting your car and ensures that you really cannot stay outside more than 2 minutes for months at a time.
When I first arrived here for university about 14 years ago, it felt like Montreal was in the tropics. The season was much shorter, there was much less snow, and it was generally not as lethally freezing. Apart from the winter I spent in Europe when I was 25 years old, I’ve stayed put and have been pretty happy with Montreal winters. I let the “natives” complain with a smirk, because I KNEW what winter was really like, and for me this wasn’t it. Last year for example, we enjoyed a really warm New Year’s, and didn’t have any snow before January 15. Now that was my kind of winter.
But this year, it’s just the worst season ever and it gets me. The first snow fell in November, and I have to admit that at first I was excited, really happy to take out the little wooden sleigh we bought for LP and try it out in the white, glistening streets. But then, it snowed, and snowed, and snowed, and snowed some more. Even if we’ve had warmer days that thankfully melted at least some of it down, over three meters of snow has fallen since then. The windows are blocked, the entryways are blocked, and it’s hazardous just to drive down the streets because you cannot see anything around. I have never seen mounds of packed snow that high, and in the last few weeks there actually have been deaths in collapsed buildings, caused by rooftops unable to support the weight of the snow. Barren trees are three-quarters buried, and everyone is wondering whether we’ll be flooded in a couple of weeks…
That is if it ever warms up enough for the friggin snow to become rain at once. That’s the main problem, not so much the abundance of snow (the biggest accumulation in at least 65 years, they say) but the endlessness of it. Two years ago, on March 12, M and I washed the cars outside without a coat on, had a beer on the patio and cheered on the return of the Canadian geese (a sure sign of spring). This year, winter is still in full force, even if we’re in Daylight Saving Time already. For the first time in my life, Easter will be celebrated in the midst of winter. More than ever, the weather is the one and only conversation topic.
See, it’s not because people were born here that they actually enjoy the stuff. Most people, myself included, just curse and pretty much wait for it to end. My foreign colleagues say but aren’t you used to it by now? Shouldn’t you try to accept it, since there nothing you can do about it? I now I should, but I can’t. It’s been especially trying this year with a 23-pound child which I must still carry along with my purse, lunch bag, his diaper bag, groceries, and so on. By now, I have become quite proficient at navigating icy patches with my entire load in tow and have managed not to drop anything even once. However, LP is not very collaborative and always finds a way to kick his boot and sock off while we are outside, and/or to take off his mittens as quickly as he can, as if they were burning his hands off.
The biggest joke is that upon arriving from Quebec City on Sunday, the first thing M’s parents said was: “Boy, aren’t you lucky to have such little snow here.” I gasped in horror and just hugged them in silence.
OK. I know. There are far worse and much more important things in life than that. In the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing. Spring will come. LP will toddle in the dewy grass and point at butterflies, with his irresistible toothy grin. We will get through this winter. We will.
A little seasonal music, in the meantime. Malajube is a great local band, signing in French. I love their catchy underground pop sound, but I’m not that crazy about their silly, “n’importe quoi” lyrics. Nonetheless, this song is so relevant right now. It’s called “Montreal, -40° C” and the chorus goes like: “Montreal, you’re so cold, Like a polar bear riding on the bus, blahblahblah…”
P.S. The first picture, with the buried cars, is from our own driveway. The other ones were actually taken at M's parents in Quebec City mid-March.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Today, my mom and I still talk a lot about food, what we’ve made, what we’re going to make, what we’ve seen in our issue of Martha Stewart Living and would like to make. She has kept up with the times, and thanks to a world that is much more global than in was in the ’80s in terms of sources and product availability, she has become more creative and worldly in the kitchen, to the point where she now actually makes her own sushi every Sunday night. Ever since I moved out on my own and started to cook for myself and others (past roommates, friends, exes, and M), I have come up with a theory that what you eat in life will be largely dependent on your mother’s culinary tastes. Of course this implies that your mom was the person shopping for food and cooking in the house, which I know is not always the case. Growing up, we never ate things like sour cream or ranch dressing, because my mother disliked them. We ate more pies than cakes, because she preferred them. Even though I’ve developed my own tastes and tried to broaden my horizons, I find myself repeating a lot of her patterns in terms of brands I buy, cuts of meat I choose, recipes I prepare, and general habits (baking everything from scratch including bread when I have time, making my own soups, sauces, dips and dressings instead of buying them, trying to make family meals extra special, etc.)
When two people move in together, it is often a clash of two culinary cultures. M and I can’t agree on what brand of milk or eggs or yogurt to buy, since we each bought a different one before we got together. He still doesn’t understand why I tend to buy mostly brand-name products, since his mother systematically bought the cheapest possible option (even though they seemingly had no financial worries). Unlike me, he’s not a fan of everything drenched in sauce or gravy, overflowing with ingredients and add-ons, and so what feels deliciously decadent to me is a tad too much for him, and what is just right for him I sometimes find “dry” and plain.
Together, we are now creating our own combined “culture” that our son will come to know. I am immensely happy that LP seemed to be a mini-foodie starting from day one. I originally planned to wait until 6 months to introduce solids, but he made me changed my mind. Even very early on, he just seemed so interested in our food… I started giving him cereal slowly at 4 months, and never regretted it. Just like he first latched on the breast like an old pro at the ripe age of 40 minutes, he seemed to know exactly what to do, and even grabbed the spoon in an attempt to get more. I do understand the rationale of delaying solids and proceeding with caution because of allergies, but I don’t think there should be a fixed age for everyone. Babies develop at very different paces: I know a little girl who walked at 9 months, while another one at my son’s daycare didn’t start before 17 months. I apparently talked pretty fluently at 16 months, but my friends’ son didn’t say much before his third birthday, after which he suddenly started to talk a lot more and his speech became clearer. If such ranges are all normal, why shouldn’t it be the same when it comes to eating?
I introduced pureed food at 5 months, and I swear that I saw a glance of relief on his face. He ate everything enthusiastically, and I’m sure that if he could talk, he would have yelled: “About time, mommy!” Several weeks before that, when I was sitting him on my lap during dinner if I wanted to buy some time before he started to fuss, he had already started to attempt grabbing food on my plate and shove it in his mouth.
I made most of his baby food from fresh, high-quality and whenever possible, organic products, and apart from a few things like strained peas, he has never met something he didn’t like. He quickly accepted increasingly thicker and coarser textures, started to eat impressive portions, and suddenly decided around 10 months that he wouldn’t have purees anymore, but rather eat what we were eating. Following his lead, I took great pleasure in introducing him to this universe, and came to think that books were way too slow and cautious about all of this. I took allergy/intolerance/toxicity concerns and choking hazards very seriously (I still do), but apart from that I found that a lot of foods were delayed for seemingly no reason, apart from saying that babies usually didn’t like them. Well, let’s let him decide if it likes it or not, shall we? My feeling was that this experience was supposed to be positive and fun, not unnecessarily complicated and wary. I might have just been lucky, but I still think that this attitude contributed to my son being the complete opposite of the proverbial “picky-eater”. Even when he was very little, I made him taste luscious sweet cherries, mango and papaya, all kinds of melons, juicy red grapefruits, fresh leeks, eggplants… And he couldn’t get enough.
He now eats almost anything and everything, sometimes as much as me, and I’m so glad. This is a child who shouts “Encore! Encore! (More!)” over broccoli, and who seems to genuinely think Asian stir-fried vegetables are delicious. His eagerness for food is so unusual that I wonder if I will pay for it later, fearing that he’ll suddenly stop eating one day, or that the hypothetical second baby will be the “finicky-eater-from-hell.”
Although we don’t deny him potato chips once in a while, most of what we eat is healthy, and so I’m really not concerned about him developing bad habits or a weight problem. He takes after his dad, who stayed skinny until his metabolism caught up with him in his thirties, and has always been below the 50th percentile for weight. Being rather tall for his age, he could put a little meat on his bones and so the fact that he has such an appetite is actually a good thing.
Here’s a list of some atypical (for a thirteen month-old) foods he enjoys:
-Sautéed mushrooms, including wild and Asian mushrooms
-Baby bok choi and napa cabbage
-Anything broccoli basically
-Extra-garlic hummus on pita bread
-Garlic Naan bread
-Bhaji fried onions
-Any kind of curry dish
-Tortilla chips with hot salsa
-Chili con carne
-Tangy cole slaw
-French onion dip on crackers
-Crabmeat and roasted red pepper sandwiches
-Fish sandwiches with tartar sauce
-Bean and artichoke salad with grilled haloumi cheese
-Pad See Ew
-General Tao chicken
-Orange glazed beef
-A really spicy Peruvian dish my colleague taught me how to make but which name I can’t remember
-Pasta with lemon, asparagus and salmon (one of my signature dishes)
All parents at the daycare tell me that they are jealous and wish their kid would eat like mine. Fine, but you can’t have it all. When they learn that he still doesn’t sleep through the night (and probably never will, if it hasn’t happened at this point), they’re not so sure they’d trade places with me after all!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
These days though, I am much more interested in her son, Kingston. He is the cutest thing ever, and has got to be the best-dressed toddler around. When I first found out that we were having a boy, I figured I had to mourn the “playing with dolls” joy of shopping for little pink frilly dresses, because fashion for boys was going to be so much drabber, right? Fortunately, not quite! It turns out I’m having such a blast shopping for and dressing LP, I hardly notice clothes for myself anymore and I don’t even look at the pink side of shops, not even for a second.
Thanks to little Kingston Rossdale as a constant fashion inspiration, and thanks to places like H&M, Old Navy, and to a really cheap yet funky local brand called “Gagou Glamour”, LP tries to keep up with trends, and to always remain stylish and cool whenever he goes to important places like his daycare, grandma’s house, the grocery store, etc. I just absolutely love his wardrobe consisting of fashion-forward jeans with rippled whiskers, anything (sweaters, flip-flops, sunglasses) with skull motifs, rock’n’roll or motorcycle t-shirts, combat fatigues gear, argyle socks, mini Converse tennis shoes, shirts with cheeky messages (such as “I still live with my parents” or “Lock up your daughters”), “big boy” two-piece slim-fitting pajamas…
Who knew it was all so much fun, and who knew there was a way of dressing up your kid outside the merchandising (a la Winnie the Pooh etc.) and/or cutesy babyish box? Nothing cracks me up more than seeing my son, pint-sized and so cute and innocent, in clothes that are a little bit badass.
Here's Gagou Tagou’s website. Gagou Glamour is one of their collections, which tagline is: “Famous since Birth.” Unfortunately, they only make clothes up to size 2T, which means it will soon be over for me.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
But in the end M’s parents, who are both retired, came from Quebec City for a couple of days and took care of him, which made things a lot easier because we didn’t have to drive the 30 minutes + to and from daycare, rush to feed him dinner, bathe him, wait for the babysitter, etc. We went to work in the same car just like in the old days when daycare was not part of our daily routine, enjoyed the time alone together with an unexpected joy, and showed up at the concert without a care in the world, knowing that LP was having an absolute blast with his adoring grand-parents.
We were so glad we went, because we both agree that it was one of the best shows we have ever seen! Over two hours or pure rock’n’roll, as delivered by the most energetic musician I have even seen live. Dave Grohl, who looks more and more like a 70’s rock god with his long hair and beard, was just so funny, so giving, so hyper and at ease at the same time… I had rarely seen such a level of positive energy communication between the band and the audience. To think that this awesome and versatile musician, with such a big personality and creative vibe was once totally buried in the shadow of Kurt Cobain is unbelievable! I know that Cobain had a really appealing dark charisma but I’d pick Grohl with his quirky, slightly ironic, “let’s not take ourselves seriously” mentality over Cobain’s self-destructiveness and tortured demeanor any day.
He talked about previous visits to Montreal, including their last stint when they opened up for Bob Dylan in front of an audience who, as he self-deprecatingly put it, wasn’t theirs and didn’t exactly warm up to them. He also narrated a hilarious story about first coming here when he was 18 and ending up at a hasch dealer’s house, where his bassist stole some drugs which they attempted to smoke all in the car before driving back to the border a couple of hours later… He even made an inside joke about The Arcade Fire, the now legendary Montreal indie band. All night, he had us all wrapped around his little finger.
Anyway, good times, good times. I’m not their greatest fan usually but live they impressed me all the way. Even without trying I realized that I knew all of their songs since although they were never the ultimate “it” band, they’ve always been around somewhere in the musical landscape for over ten years. We got home safe, albeit very late for a school night, and felt even better upon learning that our dear son had been on his best behavior, and had not woken up once in the last four hours.
It was about time we jumped back into the concert scene. The last band we had seen was She Wants Revenge in 2006! Great intimate concert by the way. Ironically though, we got tired of their somewhat monotone music and put it aside, while the CD of the opening act, Aberdeen City, a great little band from Boston we discovered that night, is still in rotation in our car.
Two last little things: a lot of people, including the guitar player, were dressed in green and I thought, mhhh, that’s unusual… Then I realized that it was St. Pat’s Day, on what babyland planet had I been lately???? Happy stout drinking to everyone, including myself, since my mom’s grand-father hailed from Eire. It’s quite funny when you think of it. Ireland, a tiny (but important, I know) country, is pretty much the only one for which the national day is celebrated all around the world, but then, it’s also the only one where the celebration entails some sort of fun dressing-up, as well as going out to drink and acting silly…
Also, Dave Grohl is not only a talented musician but also apparently a great father to a two year-old girl. You can find a good Spin Magazine article on this aspect of his life here...
I just want to take some time to express my appreciation for the daycare where LP goes, and for the whole system which makes it happen.
A few years ago, in order to help young families and invest in childhood, the Quebec government set up a whole nationalized daycare system, which would be heavily subsidized, and monitored in terms of quality of care, staff education, nutrition, etc. There have been problems and exceptions along the way, but the initiative resulted in arguably the best daycare system in the world. Parents only pay $7 a day for a subsidized spot, and there are spots in both family setting daycares and preschool type places. The pre-school spots are the most coveted, and are unfortunately rare, especially for younger kids. Daycares always have a limited number of places available at the “pouponnière”, the nursery, where children under 18 months go, because those babies and toddlers require a greater level of care, a higher worker/children ratio, some special equipment, etc…
Typically, a daycare with 60 kids will only have 5 or 6 “pouponnière” spots. Since siblings of kids already going to the daycare and children of the staff have priority, it usually means that there are only a couple of spots available each year, and waiting lists normally contain hundreds of names. When meeting other moms at the park, at the vaccination clinic, at the cardio-stroller classes, daycares are always the choice conversation topic, even more so than breastfeeding, development milestones, or babies’ sleep patterns…
The system creates a real bottleneck because probably 80 to 90 percent of parents looking for a daycare spot have “pouponnière” age kids, since a maternity leave here lasts either 9 months at 75% of your salary, or one year at 55% of your salary. So what people do is register on several waiting lists as soon as they find out that they are expecting, hoping that they’ll have a spot by the time their mat leave is over, more than a year and a half later. We waited until the end of first trimester, because we didn’t want to jinx ourselves, and frankly, we didn’t have high hopes… We live in a town where people move from the city when they want to start a family, where there might be more strollers than cars, and where most of the parents I know could never find a subsidized spot, having to rely on sub par, expensive daycare for four years instead.
We were reluctantly ready to do the same, but we must have done something good in our lives. About two months before returning to work, one glorious afternoon during LP’s nap, the phone rang and I nearly choked when the lady spoke. We had a spot, one of only three available that year. I’m still wondering whether there was a mix-up in the paperwork, but hey, I jumped on the opportunity, still in utter shock. This was nothing less than the parenting equivalent of winning the lottery.
We absolutely fell in love with the place, and six months later we’re still in the honeymoon phase, I guess. Whatever concern or fear or residual guilt I felt about going back to work dissipated the first time I opened up the door, instantly replaced by the palpable good vibes emanating from the inside. It was all about the children, a nearly magical place filled with laughter and love. The building itself is brand new, really functional, and surrounded by a really cool yard where kids can run and ride tricycles and pretend they’re monkeys and even play in the paddling pool during the summer months. The nursery is like a protected haven, where LP has his own little crib in one of the “nap rooms”, his own high chair, mountains of toys, and unconditional love.
I will forever be grateful for his "surrogate mommies" who took my difficult child, went the extra mile during the horrifying first weeks when he just shrieked during the entire time he was there, and helped transform him into the easygoing, happy toddler that he now is. He loves them so much, he can’t wait to be transferred into their arms in the morning, kissing their face and stroking their hair. These women are the most patient, competent, nurturing, and attentive I have even seen. I know that it’s not easy to take care of an unstoppable, accident-prone, moody one year-old all day, so I can’t imagine what it’s like to have ten. Yet, diapers are changed and noses are wiped promptly, no one is ever left to cry for even a minute, and most importantly, everyone is held, cuddled and given plenty of attention.
All day long I’m thinking about him and always juggling things in order to leave the office as early as I can and rush to his side, because I basically want him to spend as little time as possible away from us, but really I needn’t bother. He’s just enjoying himself so much that he now sometimes cries when he sees me at the door, since he knows it means he’ll have to leave. I love it when I can sneak in without him seeing me, and just watch him play for a few minutes.
It’s so funny to realize that he “has a life” even when we’re not around. When my days are tough, I immediately recall an adorably mellow moment I stumbled upon a few months ago and picture him there, eating his afternoon snack and sort of dancing and clapping along to a Jack Johnson tune among a bunch of wiggly, smiling toddlers, with the enthusiastic encouragement of his caregivers.
I consider myself a good cook, but I have to say that the food he has there is outstanding. They actually have a chef, a nice young woman who makes everything from scratch every day, and the fare is yummy, healthy, varied, colorful and appetizing all at once, with the occasional home-baked treat. Food has always been important to me, and it nearly brings me to tears to see that such a level of effort and attention is brought to feeding small children. I have to admit that LP has never been really difficult when it comes to food, but he eats with such appetite while there, his caregivers still mention it everyday, still somewhat incredulous.
For Halloween, they covered the whole place with black crepe paper from floor to ceiling and organized a “haunted house day.” We have regular “slumber parties” when everyone including the director shows up in PJs and slippers, and they even organized a “beach party” in January, when they cranked up the heat inside, blasted out some Beach Boys songs, and laid out paddling pools in the hall. They have plays, crafts, songs… When the weather is nice, they go for long walks with the “stroller bus,” in which all ten kids from the “pouponnière” fit, and which sends them into prolonged giggling fits. Really, I sometimes ask myself whether he finds us boring during the weekend.
For us, there was definitely a “before” and “after” daycare in our life. For someone who once wished I could have stayed home with my kid longer, I am constantly amazed by the positive effects it had on his development, in terms of socializing, taming down his anxiety, forming healthy bonds with adults other than his parents, realizing that he is not the center of the world, etc. I am so glad things worked out that way. I am now a firm believer in the “it takes a village” approach to child-rearing. And all this, for $35 a week!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I saw on the news today that Halle Berry finally gave birth to a probably already impossibly good-looking baby girl. I am not usually a groupie and even though I can sometimes find myself drawn to gossip media like anyone else, I usually feel nothing but slight pity for Hollywood A-type people who have no private life, however glamorous they want to make it all look. There are a few exceptions to that, obviously, but usually the words ‘pathetic,’ ‘train wreck’ and ‘phony’ are the ones M and I say the most often when talking about that whole self-destructing star system.
Who, on the other hand, could dislike Halle Berry? Not only is she simply stunning in an absolutely non-threatening way, but she has also always appeared sensible, humble even, and really likable. She’s expressed her longing for blissful coupledom and motherhood many, many years ago, and I felt kind of sad (as sad as it is possible to feel for a drop-dead gorgeous, rich Oscar winner) that it didn’t seem bound to happen for her. Then not only did she found her happy ending after all, but the object of her affection is a fellow Montrealer! I guess everyone in Quebec has now adopted her, and she once said that she loves coming here because she can lead a somewhat normal life. I was very proud and took it personally when she said that she was learning French, our French, because she wanted the baby to be bilingual.
I also took it personally when I once heard someone refer to her partner, Gabriel Aubry, as K-Fraud! Why this vicious attack on the man who’s finally made Halle Berry happy and gave her the baby she so wanted? I guess the person assumed he was a moron just jumping on her celebrity bandwagon and couldn’t understand the fact that he never proposed to her. Of course he’s probably not a billionaire, but he is certainly wealthy in his own right and never used her to promote his own agenda, a la Britney Spears’ Babydaddy. As for the non-marriage drama, it’s just a Quebec thing that feels so natural to us we are sometimes shocked to be reminded that it can be perceived negatively elsewhere. Some people do marry here (most of my friends are married and both my sisters are getting hitched this summer), but actually most couples never get married and it is never a problem. Guys will never have any family or social pressure to pop the question, there is absolutely no stigma in having a house or even a family without the ring, and the government treats you exactly the same regardless, when it comes to taxes, pensions and such. No eyebrows raised, no questions asked. There is even a word in Quebec French with which most people refer to their significant other, and which dodges the marriage issue altogether: “conjoint.” A “conjoint” is more than a casual boyfriend, it refers to the person you’re spending your life with, but whether married or not. Such a word is lacking in the English language, and I always feel uneasy about describing M in English, because he’s not my husband, but I certainly don’t feel that he’s my “boyfriend” either, like I’m 16 and my only care in the world is persuading my parents to relax my Friday night curfew. Yes, there’s “partner,” but when I use it I’m always wondering if people will think I’m gay (not that there’s anything wrong with it…)
For Aubry and Berry, I am pretty sure that his absence of proposal is certainly not due to his cowardliness or willingness to obtain a “free ride.” For him (as for M), it’s probably just a non-issue, and it doesn’t mean anything about his commitment to her. She once said she never wanted to marry again, after two sad failed marriages, so he probably just went along with it, having certainly grown up around positive, long-term, non-married couples.
On another note, Aubry was once a model and now owns a cool joint in NYC, on St. Mark’s Place in the Lower East Side, called Café Fuego. Even though it is co-owned by three Quebecers, the vibe is as far from a sugar shack as possible, and rather reminiscent of Havana. We dined there once and it was pretty good, although the NY experience was not in our plates. Aubry wasn’t there, but his partners, two brothers, were, discussing loudly in French, probably not realizing that we could understand them. Two other young guys from Quebec were also sitting three tables away, talking about an obscure “music deal.” Even though we go to New York all the time, and never stay long enough to be homesick (quite the contrary), all this French speaking made us smile and feel all warm inside. The entire front of the restaurant was occupied by a party of male models, but the girls sitting at the table besides us were the real show. It was a bunch of young, loud, flashy Carrie Bradshaw wannabes out on the town. I was looking at them with fondness, for I am all too certain that I would have been exactly like them, if I had been given the incredible chance of spending my early twenties in Manhattan, where even if you’re a nobody you’re still one of the happy fews. At some point during the evening, the loudest one answered a call on her cell, and then promptly proceeded to let the whole restaurant know that her friend, who had ditched their company for another restaurant uptown, was now sitting next to Heidi Klum and Seal.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Have you heard about Ethan Hawke expecting a child with his former nanny? Man, he must be in the divorced parents’ doghouse big time these days. I know the nanny most likely wasn’t the cause of his divorce, but can you imagine the situation? Apparently clichés do ring true sometimes, and even if you’re Uma Thurman, you risk having your nanny fantasize about your man and ultimately end up with him… Not that I don’t trust my own man, but I’m kinda glad LP goes to a government-subsidized daycare right now.
I’ve always liked Ethan Hawke by the way, even though I find his boyish fresh-faced good looks have largely faded over the years. His two European movies with French actress Julie Delpy, Before Sunrise and especially Before Sunset, have always remained favorites of mine. Run to your arthouse DVD rental place and snatch those away, if like me you’re into movies where all that happens is talking and wandering and expressing feelings of a life where colors are just a little bit more vivid than in reality. The gorgeous settings (Vienna and Paris) also greatly help.
M and I saw him in New York about a year and a half ago, I believe it was on the 23rd St., in any case in Chelsea where I think he lives. He was walking down the street with his young son, and we were back from our favorite place to have breakfast in Manhattan, the Empire Diner. As we passed him by, he stalled just a bit to wait for his son, who had lost the pace and was walking four steps behind, completely absorbed in his own world and oblivious to the bustling scene around him. M, who saw him first, smiled and said hi. He replied and smiled back, with a “what are you gonna do, he’s a dreamer already” look on his face. During this moment all I could think of was “Oh my God it’s Jesse, it’s Jesse,” his slightly full of himself yet endearing character in the Before movies.
I was then four and a half months pregnant, and we had just found out that it was a boy. We were in a quest for the perfect name, and so after seeing this cute kid, who looked exactly like his mother, I thought that maybe it was a sign and googled up his name, full of hope. It turns out it was Roan. Mhhh. No. Names are a very personal thing and even as francophones I guess we could have picked an English-sounding name if it was somewhat well-recognized and easy to read, but that was a no-go. Nobody in our family would have been able to pronounce it, and it would have been a guaranteed bullying ticket at school in our Montreal suburb.
In the end, we decided on the name a few weeks later, when I blurted it out during an intense brainstorming session with my parents at my sister’s engagement party. It is actually the combination of my great-grandfather’s name and M’s. We weren’t going to go for an hyphenated name (like mine, since having pretty much always worked in English, I know how this little Quebec tradition can puzzle native English speakers), but in the end this name came out and somehow it was the right one. Yes, it happens to be the name of a French king, but to us it’s more like a way to honor each of our families’ history. And I won’t mind if he chooses to drop one of his first names later, if he ever becomes fed up of writing the fourteen characters (twenty-two if you count his last name) all the time.