zone de confort

cheveux blancs

Our son, Maxime, examines some weight-lifting equipment on his birthday. Notice the patch, just above his ear (read on, in today's story...). Never miss a word of photo: get French Word-A-Day delivered by email, here

les cheveux blancs (lay sheh veuh blahn)

    : white hair


le cheveu gris = gray hair
les cheveux poivre et sel = salt-and-pepper hair

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words: Download MP3 or Wav file

A seize ans, notre fils, Maxime, a déjà quelques cheveux blancs!
At sixteen, our son, Max, already has a few gray hairs! 

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A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Sage at Sixteen

Well, Mr. Max, you turned 16 yesterday! And, mon pauvre fils, we spent the landmark occasion doing errands, or les courses, but you did not complain.

Having picked you up from collège, we headed over to Orange, for your appointment chez l'orthodontiste. From time to time, as I drove, I would look over at you, Max, as you sat there in the passenger's seat, earplugs in, listening to your favorite song, Mocking Bird. A cloud of calmness settled over you and I had to ask, a few times, "Est-ce que ça va?" You assured me it was.

Now and then, my eyes fixed on that patch, over your left ear. I'll never forget when, earlier this week as you sat in the coiffeuse's chair, the hairdresser shut off the electric shaver and announced, Votre fils a des cheveux blancs!

Unbelieving, I got up out of my chair and went to see the very same: a patch, no bigger than the tip of an eraser, of white hair! 

You were pretty cool about that, too, taking the information in stride, just as you are taking this afternoon of errands with the same calm and collectedness.

When we pull into the grocery store drive-through, to collect our commande, you ask whether it's too late to buy a can of sirop de menthe....

But when I try to amend our order, the machine balks. After several attempts to add the sirop de menthe to our virtual cart, I dissolve into a mist of exasperation. My forefinger punches the menu screen until I finally give up.

That is when, Mon Fils, you quietly exit the car, come around to my side of the vehicle, and say in a soft voice: "I'm going to try to figure it out, Mom."


You may have received a few cadeaux on your birthday, but I wonder whether you are aware of the gift of peace and serenity that you have clearly shown me, this week? Your newly-won patience was again evident in the car ride, at the grocer's and, later, at the sports-goods store, where we would try out a gamme of weight-lifting equipment, only to leave the shop empty-handed when all of those "promotions" added up, costing your mother a lot of confusion. I needed time to figure things out--to decide just which set of barbells, which bench press, which curl bar... would be best for a growing boy. When I broke the news to you, I braced myself for your disappointment. Instead, you responded with a tender smile, and that serene gleam in your eye. "T'inquiète pas, Maman. Je peux attendre."

Last night at the dinner table, after blowing out your birthday candles, you told Grandma Jules and me that you have had a very long life, that it feels as though you had been around forever - and not a mere 16 years.

As I listen to your wondrous thoughts, my eyes return to that patch of gray, just above your ear. Though I don't understand the metaphysics of time and space, of one thing I am certain: in my hopes, in my prayers, in my wishes and in my far-flung dreams... forever, my dear son, you have been with me.


Smokey and Braise (c) Kristin Espinasse
Smokey (left) and Momma Braise illustrate that tender, mysterious, and sacred Mother-Son bond. (Photo taken in 2009, when Smokey was a wee whippersnapper.)

Le Coin Commentaires

Corrections, comments, or stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box. 

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French Vocabulary

 sage = wise

mon pauvre fils = my poor son

Orange = a city in the Vaucluse

est-ce que ça va = is everything OK?

la coiffeuse = hairdresser

Votre fils a des cheveux blancs! = Your son has some white hair!

le cadeau = present

la commande = order

le sirop de menthe = mint syrup

mon fils = my son

la gamme = the (product) range

(ne) t'inquiète pas, Maman. Je peux attendre = don't worry, Mom. I can wait

le cadeau = gift, present

And how about a Reverse dictionary for some of the English terms?:

now and then = de temps en temps

a patch (of white hair) = une tache

to take something in stride = accepter quelque chose sans sourciller

empty-handed = les mains vides

une bougie = candle

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We had to round up some candles... (1 = 10... +1 x 6!) (left to right: Kristin, Jackie, Max)

Max, I love your smile, I love your engaging sense of humor, I love that twinkle in your eye, that faith that says "I will try". I think you are cool (I think you're a geek), I think you are intense, I think you are very, so very sweet. Enigmatic, charismatic, diplomatic... are just a few words to describe you, Mr. Moose (from "Maximousse", not his name, but a term of endearment all the same). The two photos, above, are by Jean-Marc. The one below Jackie took.

Kristin and Jean-Marc (c) Jackie Espinasse
Max, you have brought so much joy to our lives. Your mom and dad thank you (and your sister, too, though she won't admit her appreciation just yet!).

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