une séance

peter les plombs

From time to time, I like to share this snapshot, taken in the Aosta Valley (Italy) during our 2007 family vacation. We were going through a particularly upheavaling time... when I stumbled across this hand-painted sign. It reads: "To live well: love well and let others say what they will". ("Pour bien vivre, bien aimer et laisser dire.") 

 Meet Chief Grape in California and Oregon soon! Check out some of the cities he is visiting on his USA wine tour, click here.

péter les plombs (peh-tay lay plohm)

    : to lose it, to flip out, to go crazy; to get angry


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

I don't even know where to begin with this one. Perhaps with the action part:


It's true, I lost it--blew my top! Went ballistic! HAD A COW. It happened Monday night, on returning from Avignon, where I had had three different doctor appointments. I suppose I was worn out from the pushing, pinching, and flattening--but perhaps more so from the driving and the waiting! 

The driving began earlier in the day, when I needed to set off in one direction (to take the kids to school), before turning around and heading south, to the city. Manque de chance, because of unlucky scheduling I would need to repeat the aller-retour later in the day (heading north again, to pick up the kids, then south, for the final doctor's appointment). 

At the end of the day, after so many hours on the road and in medical offices, I had but one burning desire: to arrive home, change into my PJs and crawl under the covers!

Driving home from Avignon, along dark and winding country roads, I nursed a comforting vision in my mind: I saw a hot cup of tea on my nightstand, my petit carnet, colorful pens, and my current favorite book of devotion. Only, a cruel irony awaited me: instead of spending time in soulful and spiritual renewal--the next moments would be spent paving the road to hell!

And so it was that I did not walk into the house and make a beeline to my room. Instead, I was met at the front door by my pleading daughter. Here follows a mini-dialogue of what happened next:

Jackie: "Mom, can you take me to S's house?" 

Me: "What? When? Why? NO!" The idea of getting back into the car to drive through the dark to another town was downright painful.

Jackie: "But she needs me!" (insert bucket of manipulation and guilt)

Hit by the unexpected, my meltdown was swiftly underway. After the Who, What, When, and Pourquoi of it, I came to the conclusion that I just could not conclude! I was too tired, too fracassée to deal with what my street smarts were telling me were no more than adolescent drama and caprice. Only, my street smarts were worn out from the day; presently dumbness reigned--and it was dumbness that handed me the first brick!

Paving The Road to Hell
I became angry with the realization that, during the hours in which I was away for medical tests and rehabilitation, my daughter had been on Facebook, chatting with friends, getting involved in dramas and, before long, rescheduling my evening to include one final flippant foray back out into the night! No! I would not drive her to her friend's (all this sous prétexte that the friend was in need. In need my foot -- or rather, my breast!, for a mammography was just one of the exams I'd undergone earlier in the day!)

FORGET IT!!!! I shouted, drowning out my daughter's protests, unwilling to be pushed (or flattened or pinched...) any further! But when my teenager continued to pressure me, something hit a nerve and got me seething

"LEAVE ME ALONE! THIS IS NOT MY PROBLEM!!!" I shouted. I was frustrated by the details of the current "crisis" and yet, deep down, my gut and Experience told me that the current adolescent dilemma was nothing serious. I would not have to drive my daughter over to her friend's! I had the perfect right to call it a day and get the rest my body needed--and not feel coupable.  

Instead, my daughter persevered, citing more reasons why I should give in. And give in I did, only not in the way that she might have expected....

"QUIT. PUSHING. ME.J'ai hurlé. Next, I watched as a tirade of gros mots and insults leapt out of my mouth like dragon fire. I listened, astonished, wondering where, sur terre, such offensive words originated? (A telephone call to my Mom, later that evening, would reveal that the words were ancestral--and that my own mom was as astonished as I was, when, 30 years before, she listened to the same tirade fly out of her own mouth. To attribute these gros mots to our ancient kin wasn't so much a it was a reclaiming: I claim these @#&! words to be my own grandmother's words! And, boy, it seemed she sure had a mouth!)

Then, as my mother had done decades before me, I slammed as many doors as I could before ending up in my own bedroom, where I spit out several more 'ancestral' expletives. Next, I fell into bed, completely spent.

That's when remorse hit me like a gavel. Guilty!

Instead of reaching for my devotional, I reached for the computer and googled for an answer.

Google told me to apologize.

(You'd be amazed at what an internet search for "lost my temper with my 14-year-old" brings up!).

 After knocking gently on my daughter's door, I entered and sat beside her on her bed. "I am sorry. Je suis désolée. Day-zo-lay! So sorry. Please forgive me."

I did not take back the punishment that I had given her earlier (she would still lose her computer privileges... for chatting (and thus getting us all into this mess in the first place!) when she should have been doing her homework). I may have been wrong in losing my temper, but my daughter would still have to respect my "computer" decision. As for me, I could still respect our mother-daughter bond, by asking for forgiveness for being in the wrong.

 Finally, I put on my PJs, crawled under the covers, took a long sip of some hot tea... and cracked open my devotional. I am always amazed at the realization that, no matter how hot-to-trot-upon-the-spiritual-path I think I am, when all is said and done, it often seems I am no closer to spiritual perfection than when I first set out.  

 Comments Corner
To respond to this story--or to share your own experience--click here

Post note: I saw the friend-in-question the very next day, and overheard the girls as they giggled about boys, clothes, and other fancies. I felt relief to be freed from any lingering doubt about whether or not I had made the right decision the night before.


French Vocabulary

péter les plombs = to lose it

manque de chance = unluckily

le petit carnet = little notebook

un aller-retour = roundtrip, a coming and going

pourquoi = why

fracassé(e) = shattered

sous-prétexte = under the pretence

un gros mot = cuss word

coupable = guilty

j'ai hurlé = I yelled

sur terre = on earth

je suis désolé(e) = I am sorry

My beautiful daughter, Jackie. She's fourteen going on forever. She is timeless and precious to me!

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety