When I was working on my book, I knew the story I was asked to write was officially starting on 19 January 2011. However I deliberately chose another starting point: Paris, 23 December 2010.
The story I was about to tell didn't start when the bomb fell, it began a couple of weeks earlier. At the time when strong, malignant cells were rapidly multiplying and took over Kenji's blood cells. Or: at the time when I assumed I was leading a perfectly normal life, together with my hardworking husband and our two baby boys. Normal meant mainstream and hunky-dory, as simple as that. And besides, why wouldn't it be normal?

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We are all busting our butts this week - which in the case of yours truly results in hours of writing, but (almost) zero spare moments to write here. Big Brother has set his targets strategically: he has managed to earn the maximum amount of stickers every single day since his new 'thumbs up card' has been introduced. The past two days he has also earned an extra sticker on his hand. Either the teacher is pleased with him or he is behaving according to her standards - I'd like to assume both, but all I see is an exhausted boy when he comes home from school...

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After two days of school, Big Brother's regular teacher (who has returned from her sick leave) requested a meeting. With Big Brother. And us. To form one front as it were, regarding his behavior. As much as I agree with a joint approach at school and at home, I considered it a bit soon? His teacher explained how she was more than willing to organise challenging tasks for Big Brother, but that he had to show some effort as well, meaning: desirable behavior.
Am I overlooking my pretty subjective point of view as a mother here, in assuming that Big Brother is a quite the average almost seven year-old, who is simply an enthusiastic boy? Even though his teacher didn't actually say that he had to change first, in order to be 'rewarded' intellectually, I had a very hard time ignoring the little voice in my head ... that this wasn't a very fair deal.

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Big Brother coincidentally lost his first milk tooth on his sixth birthday, which led him to believe that there were special powers attached to this noteworthy phenomenon. Losing a tooth has become a rite of passage for Big Brother. He is never quite comfortable when he discovers a new loose tooth in his mouth, and gets teary and irritated. The transition period somehow leaves him feeling vulnerable (although I can't pinpoint what he feels he is being exposed to?) and the relief when the tooth finally comes out, is always huge.
Yesterday Big Brother was acting super tough and bragged that he was going to bite into an apple, in an effort to make his loose front tooth even looser. Suddenly I heard him say: "Ouch. This hurts. I think I don't want to finish my apple anymore..."

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When you plan to write about a fridge that broke down on Christmas Eve and that was replaced by a brand-new one, or about your boy's wonderful substitute teacher who all of a sudden got a new job, which results in another round of school appointments to reinvent the wheel for the umpteenth time... well, it seems like there is nothing really important going on. Except there is.

I watched the news yesterday and saw my generation demonstrating. I saw thousands of people of my age and up. People who realized what is at stake and how crucial it is to stand up and unite.

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