I can see a photo file flipping through my mind of her as a newborn, bobbing around in the Texas summers with her chubby tummy and curly halo of hair, holding her baby brother while they watched Sesame Street in the mornings, hiking around Ireland as brave as you please, wearing her burgundy pinafore and necktie to Catholic public school, pigtails, ponytails, another baby brother, French bob, braces, gangly growth spurts, bravely learning a new language, making new friends, holding hands, swimming and diving, running and laughing, sitting at the edge of it all, sparkly painted toes on the precipice of teenager.
She loves Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and recently Nero Wolfe, which she watched while home from school with this last batch of la grippe, so she asked me if she could have a murder mystery party this year. It couldn't be something easy like bowling or bouncy playscape, and not outside because the weather in February is unpredictable, moreover her first choice, the ice skating rink, was booked through April. And so that left us with me writing a murder mystery to be solved by eight pre-ado French girls.
You may remember when we first moved here and I bravely (stupidly) wrote a treasure hunt birthday party in French for her 9th birthday. You may also remember the incident of the dumpster blackboard that was questionably abandoned and fortuitously reunited with its previous owner. But still, I persevered and started searching around on the Internet like crazy for mystery themed party ideas.
There are loads! But they mostly come in ready-made packets, in English, and at a price. I had to do it on my own. So, I took the idea of Clue and its five questions to answer: 1) who 2) why 3) where 4) when and 5) with what and got to it. I wrote two sets of clues, one set that led teams of two to the big five questions that had to be solved from riddles and word play. We decided on a flower theme and each girl was given a flower to dress as--tulip, jasmine, hyacinth, daisy, rose, you get it....
For example, I placed the 'who' clues in an envelope in the washing machine but in order to get the teams there, I wrote a poem about blood being spun free of clothing. They liked it. And so did I. I have to admit that I had the best time ever coming up with it all, writing it and translating, cutting up paper to distort messages, and keeping it all in order in so many blood-red envelopes. The best part was watching them figure it out. They had a ball running around the house, whispering and gathering clues that led them to the gruesome discovery that the birthday girl, Mademoiselle Rose had used her thorns to poison Monsieur Bouquet, a role played by her very own brother, the Middlest.
If you'd like some ideas or help pulling off your own murder or sommeil profond party, just ask me. I'd be delighted to help. In English or French, ce que vous voulez.
My favorite moment? When Ma Fille said, 'But you didn't actually write it all? Not the poem about the washing machine?' To which I happily replied, 'Mais oui! Yes, I did.' Anything for you, my love.
Oh, yeah, Happy Valentine's Day.