End Pieces

In the world of mots doux, the plot thickens as Short-pants attempts to discreetly verify the source of her mysterious love note. Last week she reported seeing the alleged scribe, Jean-luc, using a notebook with pink paper, the same paper as the little note she received last month. “He really had a pink-paged notebook?” It’s unusual, she agreed, but she’d seen it with her own eyes.

“Does this make you think he wrote the note, then?” She squinted one eye, displaying her suspicion. “First I need to see if there’s a page with the corner ripped out. Then I have to see if the handwriting matches.” She ran upstairs to her room and returned with a copy of Encyclopedia Brown, holding it up like a shingle she was about to mount above our door. “I’m in detective mode.”

I don’t bring it up too often but I want to stay plugged-in to how she’s feeling about the whole saga. Every once in a while I ask, as nonchalantly as possible, “Any further developments in the case of the pink love note?” No, she says, supplying me with the same status report as before, or musing about the stealth ways she might obtain more clues to solve the mystery. For now, she seems more engaged in the curiosity of the puzzle than the romance.

I suppose I’ve made peace with the maitresse after our appointment, and Buddy-roo’s struggles with the schoolwork seem to have (mostly) subsided. Reluctantly I must admit that it was probably just a period of adjustment for my little one, a passage in scholastic responsibility, leaving behind the days of symbolic homework and entering the world of the real deal. She seems to have accepted (sort of) the fact that there’s something (a lot) to do every night, so doing homework is no longer a three-hour procedure (usually). The defiant fits and helpless tears have diminished from nightly to weekly. Her flash-quiz scores have upped from twos and threes (out of ten) to sevens and eights. Her teacher still writes attention au soins! in red ink; it takes all the restraint I have not to write back that of course Buddy-roo’s work would be clean and neat and without messy smudges if she wasn’t required to use a fountain pen. Fortunately (for Buddy-roo) my capacity to be snarky in French is not yet fully developed.

The 10-day Toussaint vacation helped, giving her a break from the grind, and a chance to catch up. De-facto quizzed her daily on the 130 spelling words she’s been asked to memorize (so far) this fall, in anticipation of the full-on first trimester bilan – two weeks of daily tests on all the work they’ve covered since school started. It still feels like a lot of work for a second-grader to tackle, or for me to help her manage. In the end, it’s an adjustment for all of us, isn’t it?

The chilly, gray days of November have settled in and wrapped around us. There are some good aspects: it’s an R month of oysters and the approaching holiday season, though not without its drawbacks, at least offers the promise of warmth, cheer and well-spiked egg-nog. But the mornings are far too dim, night falls way before suppertime and the cold drafts slip too easily through our ancient dormer windows. The courtyard seems especially somber these days; summer’s laughter barely an echo as we hunker down for the winter, bracing ourselves for the end of another year and all the changes that a new one will bring.

2 Responses to “End Pieces”

  • Tall Dude in Chicago Says:

    I am so happy to know that Encyclopedia Brown lives on, and has traveled all the way to Paris! I can’t wait to hear if Short-pants solves the case. Perhaps she needs a deer-stalker cap and a magnifying glass? Christmas is coming…

  • Andy Parker Says:

    Wonderful final paragraph. I read it. I read it again. And then a third time. The second for oysters and the promise of holiday cheer. The last as I listened for summer’s laughter, faintly heard. Thank you, again.

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