Sunday, June 27, 2010


Where do I begin? My house is now in the possession of my renters. It is immaculate, completely organized, and mostly divested of the most personal objects (photos of kids, etc.,) though much of my art collection is still on the walls, all the books, a selection of cds, the kids' toys, etc are there to be enjoyed as they will. My kids are finished with their school year. My temporarily adopted kids have gone to their respective homes. One I shall truly miss as he shifts his life path and goes into the Compagnons (guild master training) for carpentry. The other, I am sorry to admit, I am deeply relieved to be rid of.

To give an example of the extent of his selfish and self-centered behavior. Friday after school, two nights before the renters arrive, he hasn't cleaned his part of his room. And, when his parents arrived at 10pm, neither they nor I had heard from him beyond the fact that he had a gathering at school to say good bye to his teacher. Thus, no vacuuming, no mopping, no stripped bed, no shelves dusted, etc., His parents shrug their shoulders. They're not going to do his job for him. They go off to have dinner at the local pizzeria.

I go to bed. I'm exhausted. Somewhere around midnight Leo lets them all in to clean up a bit. They leave me a brief note and the remainder (7Euros) that they owed me for the new door knob (which I finally handled, having waited 10 months for them to do so). No more. Leo then turns out the lights and locks the front door. I'm asleep through all this. But, I'm awakened around 1AM by knocking and a car honking. I go down. The child had forgotten his roller blades. And with barely a good bye, they are off.

If ever my children were to behave in such a manner I would dis-own them! Now, if only he will send me back the key to my brand new bike lock...

To put it simply I am beat. I attempted to do just a wee bit too much -- but, how could I not? That's my nature. I blended tremendous amounts of detailed cleaning and organizing with teaching moments. AKA -- Please do your room(s) yourselves, clear out your stuff, give me the clothes for Michigan (for my boys) separated from the clothes that stay here. Tell me what toys are going to Arles and get them ready, vacuum, dust the shelves, mop, strip your beds, clean out your drawers... you get the picture. I only attempted help with their own rooms. But even so it was exhausting. At one point I said to Leo, alright, if you can't do things on your own, then come with me and we'll do all the rooms together. I brought him into to mine and started ordering him about, up and down the stairs with things to be put in storage, cleaning supplies to be gotten, rugs to be moved, etc.,

Leo has a good heart, but he has bones made of lead. Sitting and contemplating getting up to help me is far preferable to leaping up and doing. Hence, I'll ask something of him, and he'll still be sitting 5 minutes later. This drives me batty, and I come and nudge, badger, push, and eventually raise my voice. So far, we manage. Eventually he gets up to help, but then -- like as not -- sits back down quickly after.

Will I ever instill in him the thought/behavior of -- I've finished this task, Ma is still clearly working away, what more can/might I do to help her? At this point, clear and firm orders is the only method of getting him moving. He's in his own head/world/space and my needs and what I find important are like little mosquitoes in his ears.

Ah well. In the end, all was accomplished, thanks to help from two lovely friends, and many long hours. G did a tour about the house with a screw driver, fixing various things. He left his portion of his room well straightened up, helped clean and put back up the material on the ceiling, helped me replant some tomatoes... the list goes on. Fifteen years old and so gracious and helpful. I will miss him! I'll have to hire him back to help replace the roof someday.

It's a general rule that doing things with a child takes at least twice as long as doing for said child. So, I heaped my plate full and dealt.

But, the house is clean, organized, and newly inhabited. The garden is straightened up, the tomatoes growing, the potatoes under the dirt delicious, my tress of garlic from my garden is long and full, the pool is perfectly clean... What more could I ask for?

And, I am in a caravan/camping car just in front of my home on the property of my neighbor. My neighbor offered this solution to me (as well as his garage for all the stuff I removed from the house) earlier this spring as I realized that I wouldn't be spending this summer at the winery. Thus I've moved into 1.5meters x 2.5meters. And most astonishingly, most of my stuff seems to fit into this space, alongside a bed space that is barely 6ft (180cm) by 130cm (4ft plus a teeny bit). I've set up my outdoor divan (an extra long shipping pallet with a fold-out cushion/bedding atop) and put mosquito netting above it. I've moved over my hammock, my flower pots, a couple of outdoor tables, and all the necessary stuff -- shampoos, linens, spices, pots and pans, a small toaster oven, a coffee maker, food, etc.,

I'm remarkably comfortable there and yesterday being the first evening I slept in such a space, I actually slept pretty well. However, I will need to go to bed early in the evening as the birds and the morning light awaken me by 6.

Tomorrow I'll take pictures and put them up. Unfortunately I didn't get shots of my house in its perfection, but my new abode is ready for some documenting. I'll get those.


Elizabethd said...

You really would want to deal out a sharp slap for such appalling behaviour....parents and son!

Anonymous said...

Do you ever think that your kids, renters, exlover, exhusband, might read your blog?

Roses, Lace and Brocante said...

Oh Madeleine!
It makes my blood boil....
THAT my dear is learned behaviour from his parents.

In this life their are GIVERS and TAKERS.

I've always left my house cleaner, prettier when I travel to France just in case extended family/friends need a bed in the city.

It all comes down to breeding and upbringing.......

Have a WONDERFUL holiday and I look forward to your next post, I'm sure by then you will be in a happier place!
hugs xox

Nathalie in Avignon said...

I'll ditto anonymous as a general question but regarding this particular post I don't think there's any reason to worry about each of these children reading what you wrote about them.

I can see why you are still fuming about the rollerblade child and if he or his parents read about it, fine!!!

As for me, my tenants are arriving next Saturday so the hard work that you have behind you is still ahead of me!

Madeleine Vedel said...

Anonymous and Nathalie, At the current moment neither the ex-boyfriend nor the ex-husband, nor any child I've housed have the English skills (nor the computer skills in the first two cases) to read what I've written. And, neither ever showed much interest in my writing. That said, there are posts that I've written, that I've later removed. For those who've followed me -- it is part of the story. But for posterity and disinterring later, no. The most likely to eventually read the posts would be Leo -- in the future, curious about me, our past, etc., And, as with incriminating photos of him naked in the bathtub at the age of 7 in the photo album, we'll pick through the posts and remove them together as he chooses. But there too, growing pains are growing pains. There are plenty of non-attractive moments in my past that have been spread around the family, friends, etc., Learning takes time.

Meantime, I'm reveling in my new and very simple life (for at least two-three days) and sleeping in. Ahhh

The Sabbatical Chef said...

Children are a work in progress... yours, mine and all the ones I teach every day. Most parents do try hard, but I learned a long time ago to never say "My kids would never talk back/lie/cheat/drink/..." because those very words usually come back to bite you! And, in the long run, most kids turn out well in spite of their parents! I hope that Leo and Jonas have fun in Michigan. Good luck in the camping car...

Madeleine Vedel said...

Ah Teresa -- you lend the words of wisdom and experience. I know I care perhaps over much, but it just becomes visceral. Respect for others, doing your share, pitching in, noticing, not being a spoiled brat... if I can manage to convey these values to my kids, I'll consider myself a success as a mother. The rest? well, I'll do my best but... We tried for an entire year to get along with this child, and at times succeeded, but clearly as he knew he wouldn't be coming back to live with me, he just began burning bridges like crazy. And, it just became harder and harder for me to stay calm and pleasant when faced with such an attitude. We'll see how he eventually ends up. much love to you! and the boys will adore MI as normal I'm sure. They're currently with papa.

The Sabbatical Chef said...

I hope that next year's kids, should you take more in, will be kinder souls. You do what you can and send them on their way. I hope that your summer is going well. I so wish I could be in Provence, even for just a few days, this summer... but not to be this year, it seems. Maybe next!