Monday, 27 June 2011

Single Mum Barbie

Last night I lay awake in my hot, hot room, with the covers on the floor, listening to traffic and the snippets of French that floated, laughing, underneath my window. I was waiting for the ceiling to fall in, or for a motorbike to come flying through the window, or, to be honest, for a tiny little fairy man to fly through my window and say "Good news! Tonight is the night I am finally allowed to transform you into a tiny fairy princess and you can come and rule my kingdom with me and we can have surprisingly filthy fairy sex in my castle in the bluebell woods!": anything so I didn't have to come to work today.

But actually, so far, touch wood, please gods, don't jinx me, it has been ok as both the girls have friends round today and are managing to entertain themselves: the eleven year old and her friend have gone to the shop to buy a birthday present for someone (erm, I hope this is allowed, but she does come to and from school by herself so surely a two minute walk to the Rich People Boutiques on the end of the street is permitted?); and the eight year old and her friend have made a den with the bunk beds and they're watching a film on their mini DVD player. All this means I have got time for a sneaky Facebook Fix and also, I felt like updating my blog.

Hmm, I feel a little bit guilty that the eight year old is watching a film- the mum told me this morning that they are only allowed to watch one film a day or one hour of television, but I'm fed up of fighting with them about it. When I had my friends round we used to PLAY, I don't understand why these kids can't just make up games or play with their millions and millions of toys... I would suggest some of the games I used to play at school but I don't think they'll really get 'Single Mums'- basically, you walk around the playground saying 'My Tyrone's in prison' and 'I've got five kids to look after and he's just lost his job!' (I'm not exaggerating. I know this isn't just a Manchester thing because Kayt and Amy said they used to play similar games in Newcastle and Liverpool respectively, but somehow I don't think it will ever catch on in Western Paris.)

Anyway, this morning we did at least play Barbies together, before the eleven year old's mate got here and she all of a sudden was Too Cool. I came to the game late because I'd been preparing lunch, so they'd already divided up the best stuff between them. All that was left for me was Scratty Barbie, who for some reason has black marker pen in the corner of her mouth and she has really short hair for a Barbie, tied up in a scally ponytail on top of her head. There was also a little Shelly that nobody wanted, so I got her as well and all of a sudden I realised I was playing Single Mum Barbie.

The Shelly doll was dressed as a princess but all I could scavenge for Single Mum Barbie was an asymetrical crop top and a very short, pink tutu. When I'd finished dressing them I actually thought the ensemble looked quite good, kind of Ironic Nineties with a contemporary sportswear twist, and I trotted them over to the Barbie Tour Bus, where the other Barbies were already settling down for the night. The eight year old had invented herself a millionaire family- she had a Ken in a tuxedo and a well-dressed Barbie and Shelly, while her friend also had a millionaire couple, this one with a fashionable teenage daughter, played by the eleven year old's Barbie.

The Tour Bus is amazing- it has double bunkbeds, a kitchen (complete with microwave that actually bings and a fold-out breakfast bar), a hidden bathroom and at the back there's a pull-out swimming pool, which lights up when you press a button, and when you press another button it plays techno music and when you press it again it makes jacuzzi noises.

The bunk beds were taken by the two families, so Single Mum Barbie and her little Shelly had to sleep in the driver's seat. "She has to sleep here because she doesn't have a job." I said. The eleven year old understood me and laughed, but I instantly regretted saying it: all of a sudden I had given life to Single Mum Barbie and it was a shit one and I could never take it back.

We put the little Shelly dolls to bed (mine on a blanket across the two driver's seats, the eight year old's Shelly on the bunk bed, dressed in proper pyjamas and tucked in with a teddy) but the girls started getting their Barbies ready for a party.

"Ooh, are we going to a party?" I asked.

Single Mum Barbie's outfit would look good at the party, and she might meet a rich Ken there, I thought. But as the other Barbies and Kens got into their carriages, I looked at the two sleeping Shelly dolls, all alone in their Tour Bus, parked in the middle of God Know's Where (all right, it was in the girl's bedroom, but there are all sorts of toys in there, just waiting to prey on two little Mattel dolls. Those Littlest Pet Shop pets in particular look very sinister to me).

"Who's going to look after the kids?" I asked, already knowing the answer.

I insisted I didn't mind, but inside Single Mum Barbie was dying. She felt like such a ridiculous idiot, all dressed up in her in her tiny top and tiny skirt, who did she think she was anyway? I changed her into a shapeless, plain dress and waved off the happy couples and the spoilt, teenage daughter.

"You sure?" the eight year old's Barbie asked Single Mum Barbie one last time, before they sped off.

"Oh yes, I don't mind! Don't worry about me, have a good time!"

What else could I say? Single Mum Barbie could hardly say no, when they were letting her and Shelly sleep in their Tour Bus for free.

I sat Single Mum Barbie in the driver's seat, with her arm around the sleeping Shelly, still in her princess dress because Single Mum Barbie couldn't get hold of any pyjamas. Two minutes later Rudeboy by Rihanna blasted out of the eleven year old's phone as the party started and all the nicely-dressed Barbies kissed each other in greeting.

"I love this song!" I said enthusiastically, remembering all the times I've danced to that song with my friends, in clubs, in basements, and once in an empty shop window at the top of Bold Street, in the middle of the day as shoppers stood outside wondering whose money was paying for all these drama students to piss about, doing 'street performance'.

The girls ignored me and changed the tune to Black Eyed Peas, then two minutes later it was Judas. The party went on into the night, with everyone ending back at the Tour Bus, in the jacuzzi, the sound of bubbles and laughter just audible under the tinny sound of the eleven year old's mobile phone, playing the latest chart hits.

Single Mum Barbie sat in the front seat of someone else's Tour Bus, with one arm around her sleeping daughter and the other raised to her ear, trying to block out the noise of someone else's party, and she wondered how her life had come to this.

Phew. I really should go and see what the kids are doing now, but the temptation to sit on their balcony and sunbathe is so strong... it's nearly 40 degrees outside today. In some ways it's good that the girls are refusing to go outside though, as yesterday I stupidly got sunburnt by the outdoor pool. I may as well wear a Union Jack teatowel round my head and start singing football songs, in between demanding why there's no fish and chips anywhere. It's so embarrassing being sunburnt, fulfilling the worst stereotype of a Brit Abroad... But I fell alsleep, I'd only had two hours in bed.

I'm going to write a post about my weekend later, to cheer me up when the kids inevitably turn into Crazy Bastards and I can't cope. It was such a fun, fun weekend- there was interpretive dancing from one fast food joint to another, plus grass skirts and gypsies. Ah. I can't wait to relive it by writing about it later, but right now I have to go and stick my head in the freezer, before I melt onto the kitchen floor, flood onto the balcony and drip drip drip into the courtyard below. I doubt the girls will notice.

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