La Fille has been asking for a pink scarf so I spent the afternoon looking for one. I knew she meant screaming pink; nothing subtle. As she rarely asks for anything that is not edible I decided to indulge her. I eventually found one in our local supermarket that should have come with free sunglasses in a shade described as 'Framboise' (raspberry). I hated it the moment I saw it. She loved it instantly. Her eyes lit up and the sight of her face rapt with delight as she pranced around the living room with the raspberry scarf around her neck made me warm to it. Slightly.
When La Fille was born I told everyone who would listen that, as I was not a girlie girl and did not want her to be, I would not be dressing her in pink or shades of it. My sister-in-law laughed and said: "You are joking; she'll be in pink sooner or later." To prove her point she sent my mother to Paris with the most beautiful girlie, frou-frou pink dress she could find, with matching pink socks and pink cardigan. I held out against pink, even though several friends completely ignored my no pink diktat, including one who spent an outrageous amount on a Christian Dior dress in what fashionistas would call 'powder pink'. I knew it had cost a fortune - enough to feed a small Indian village - because the price-tag was still on it. Staring at the three figures it seemed churlish to complain about the colour.
As the weeks passed, however, La Fille's head stubbornly refused to sprout anything resembling hair. Everywhere we went people would say: "Oh, what a sweet looking boy" or "What's his name?" and I would have to explain that La Fille was a fille and not a garçon. After a while it seemed easier to add a little pink to her outfits. It started as pink socks, then pink tights and one thing led to another and now she has a pink scarf to go with her pink coat, pink trousers, pink t-shirts, pink dresses and pink skirts. (The lack of hair meant no pink hair ribbons, thankfully.)
And still French people said: "What a sweet little boy." Mostly I would laugh about it, not wishing to revert to stereotypes, and say: "She's a girl." But after the nth time it began to grate. "What's the matter with you French?" I barked at my husband after one more playground parent had mistaken our nearly-bald daughter for a son. "I know you consider we Anglo-Saxons to be strange but even we don't dress our boys in pink."
The move to France was only supposed to be for a couple of years, not forever. Then I met The Frenchman. Then I had La Fille. Now there's no way back. But La Fille, to whom a horse is a cheval and a frog is just pond life is still half English. So before the Gallic nation claims her for its own, sprinkles her with garlic, sautés her and swallows her up whole we make regular escapes on the Eurostar. And we have discovered the grass is various shades of green either side of the Channel.