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Chickengate: The Day Gracie Moved In...

Oh my gawd. I forgot what it’s like to live with a teenager. But after this weekend, I definitely remember. My daughter, Gracie, has lived on her own for the past two years here in Paris while she is attending college. I never wanted her to have her own apartment because I enjoy suffocating her with love. However, she couldn’t leave fast enough in her eyes. Her first year of college she rented a tiny studio and lived on her own and for her second year of college she found a bigger apartment that she shared with a roommate. Now, here we are, coming up to her third year of college and she has decided to take a one bedroom on her own. Yeah! Not so fast… She has decided to move into our apartment for the summer before her lease starts in the fall. When she told me that she would like to stay with us over the summer I was ecstatic… Until she moved in this past weekend.

I wanted to have everything perfect for her. I got the guestroom all ready for my darling… New white linen headboard, two modern acrylic nesting bedside tables, glass lamps with white linen lampshades, a white linen bergère chair, white linen curtains. I thought the white would perfectly offset the 19th-century point de Hongrie hardwood floors, the black marble fireplace and the circa 1850 mantle mirror. A little modern with the old. Everything was ordered, delivered and set up for her arrival.

My next project was to order every single thing that she loves at the grocery store. There was a two-page list and everything was delivered the day before her arrival… American cheddar cheese, tortillas, cookie dough, pancake batter, salsa, lemonade, avocados for her favorite breakfast toast, bananas for her favorite banana bread, her favorite peas in the can because she doesn’t like fresh or frozen, barbecue sauce, hamburger buns, organic chicken breast… Basically everything that an American teenager needs to survive.

Her favorite pink peony flowers were arranged in a silver mercury glass vase in her room next to her favorite candle.

We were ready for her arrival.

Let me preface this story by reminding all of you mothers that you would all do the same thing for your daughters. We are here to please. Our happiness is our daughter’s happiness. I would give Gracie the shirt off of my back (which I have). There is no love like a mother’s love. When Gracie calls me on the telephone, I literally get butterflies because I’m so excited to talk to her even though I probably talked to her two hours before. To say that I suffocate, helicopter parent and spoil my child is an understatement and guess what? I don’t care. Don’t forget, I have the extra worry that I might not be here for much longer so I have to cram all of my love into each day in fear of the fact that there might not be many more days. ALS is fun like that. So, needless to say, having my daughter in my apartment on a daily basis right now is a gift. Or is it?

The hurricane arrived at 3 PM. She rang our doorbell and my husband answered the door and sweetly said, “Welcome home, darling.” Her response? “Did mom make you say that?”

Her immediate attitude set the tone of the weekend and we knew we were in for a treat. Here’s a little sampling of how the weekend progressed…

“Mom, I hate that headboard.”

“Mom, where’s the rug? You said you ordered a rug.”

“Mom, I want my own area in the refrigerator.”

“Mom, I only like light pink peonies… Not dark pink.”

“No, I cannot go to the garden with you for a walk. I’m here but not here.”

“Mom, just because you are a part-time vegetarian, doesn’t mean the rest of us are. Buy some beef!”

And then, Chickengate happened. I ordered Gracie €12 organic chicken breast from the market and I used it to make her favorite homemade grilled chicken Caesar salad… Marinated the chicken, made homemade croutons, chopped up the romaine lettuce just how she likes it, made homemade Caesar dressing just the way she likes it with only one anchovy, one garlic, easy on the lemon, shaved, not shredded Parmesan and a creamy sauce. She loved it and ate a giant plate of it with a Coca-Cola in my bed watching her favorite reality show #RichKidsOfBeverlyHills.

The next morning she woke up around noon and proceeded to make herself a breakfast burrito and left all the dishes in the sink. Lunch time rolled around and she marched into my bedroom and asked, “Where’s the chicken?” I explained to her that I had already used the chicken for her Caesar salad. All hell broke loose.…

“Mom, you know I need to have chicken in the refrigerator at all times. It’s what I use to make every meal.”

“Gracie, I used the chicken for your Caesar salad.”

“Mom! I had a whole week of meals planned with chicken! Barbecue chicken burgers, chicken nachos, grilled chicken sandwiches… Now what am I going to do!!!???!!!

“Gracie, just go across the street to the market and buy more chicken.”

“Mom! I don’t have time for that. Now my whole week it is ruined. Ruined!”

Gracie mentioned the chicken or the lack thereof about 400 times over the weekend. My husband asked, “Are we still talking about the chicken?” Sadly the answer was yes, we are still talking about the chicken.

We were barely over the chicken debacle when L’Oreal Hell started. Gracie had asked me to buy her a box of L’Oreal hair color because she was going to color/lighten her hair herself.

“Gracie, I don’t think that’s such a good idea. You should go to a salon and have it done professionally.”

“Mom! I know what I’m doing!”

Flash forward to one hour later and my daughter has a head of orange hair and is in near tears.

“Mom! Look at me! What am I going to do? I have to go to a salon to have them fix it. Can I borrow €120?”

Gracie spent the next six hours googling which salon in Paris would be the most competent with color correction. She said she only wanted an American hairdresser who spoke English so she could explain the situation because this was “serious.”

It was Sunday so I asked Grace if she would go over to my favorite little church with me to light a candle.

“Mom! I can’t go out of the house like this!”

“Gracie, you can borrow one of my hats.”

“Mom! I hate all of your hats and I’m really depressed because there’s no chicken in the house.”

So, Gracie spent the rest of the weekend huffing and puffing, complaining that I don’t know how to shop at the grocery store, that my towels weren’t absorbent enough, that the house was too cold, that she would be “unavailable” all of July, that she needed my husband to go with her to a lip plumping consultation, that our shower didn’t have enough pressure, that she needed special ingredients to make a homemade leg waxing concoction, and for God sake why didn’t I buy crème fraîche at the market because I should know that she loves crème fraîche!

This little darling also gave us a list of To Do’s including transfer her bank account to a Paris branch, not the boondocks of Annecy and to stop looking at her so much.

Half of her suitcases are still open in the entry hall. Next to her suitcase is a toaster oven, a blender and a waffle iron… All of which Gracie expects me to find a home for. She cannot unpack anymore because she is “exhausted.” She also demanded to know what our cable package was and the speed of our Internet server.

The good news is that with Gracie moving back in with us, I have retrieved my camel colored peacoat, my Yves St. Laurent bracelet, my favorite Rose perfume, my suede jacket and a host of other articles that I did not know were missing.

It has been an emotional weekend with raging hormones, attitude, sassiness, judgment and an overall air of disgust. It’s clear… She finds us incompetent, nosy, full of unwarranted advice, annoying and for lack of a polite word… Stupid.

If you do not have teenage daughters and you would like to know what it’s like, check out my blog titled, “Living with Teenage Daughters is Like Living with the Taliban” HERE.

No matter what Gracie throws at me, I am just grateful that I can see her sparkly blue eyes, her rosy cheeks, her pink little lips and hear her angelic voice… through all the bitchiness. I am grateful that I am the first person she calls with good news or bad news. I am grateful that she asks my opinion even if she doesn’t take my advice. I am grateful that she does regard my sincere wishes for her to not get a tattoo, finish college, not move in with her boyfriend, speak French fluently, work towards a career so she is financially independent and can make her own choices, write thank you letters and try to be a decent human being. My husband is just grateful that Gracie hasn’t euthanized me. All we can do is laugh and know that this too shall pass.… When she moves out.

*Something you don’t know about me? I am so happy that my petite “smalls” sale went well. I’m so glad that you all liked everything. I really tried hard to offer something unique and très French with a range of price points. I would like to thank all of you for your kindness, sweet words and generosity. I am feverishly wrapping everything and getting it ready for shipment. The good news is that there was a fantastic fleamarket in the Marais quarter that my husband took me to over the weekend and I found some great items for the shop that I will post soon. Stay tuned…

A toute!


  1. Ellie I'm so glad that you are happy nothing else to say except I could hear your voice sing with happiness when I was visiting you and Gracie called! Enjoy her my friend bitchiness and all she's your baby

  2. Yea more shopping:) Cannot wait for my Bull's head to arrive. I too have an 18 year old daughter and that was all very eloquently said!!

    1. Aha! So you are the very smart woman who bought the bull's head! I sent Ellie an email the other day with a photo of one just like it in the pages of Coté Sud magazine in a design project by none other than Jaqueline Morabito. I hope that you love it. :)

  3. This is soooo entertaining. And hopefully half fiction? Regardless, enjoy your time together. What we do for love!!

  4. I am crying.... laughing so hard, I am crying. My darling is 29, just married, and there are still moments that resemble this. Fortunately, they are now limited to moments, but while reading your blog, the post-traumatic stress came flooding back to me. ;-)

  5. Sooo funny Ellie! I have a 13yo daughter and a 20yo. So I'm laughing my head off! We love them so much don't we! xox

  6. how sweet it is, there is no unconditional love like a Mom and her children....I don't believe we ever find that love is this JOY is she is there with you, all summer....
    I am thrilled to hear this.....! I love Peonies too....hard to find here in FL. adore sweet it is, Gracie is there......hope she doesn't get too upset over this writing, LOL

  7. wishing you strength and a huge and plentiful supply of chicken,

  8. I had BOYS.............I can recall a few of those sentences being flung MY WAY!Take it with a grain of salt..........ENJOY IT!
    Now your VALENTINE has come back to me.................where has it been for four months!!!I will re-address with HIS NAME and re-send!!!!
    Can't wait to see what YOU found NOW!!!!

  9. Bless you Ellie! My college age son is about to move back in with me for the summer and he's being just as insufferable (over different issues). I waiver between changing the locks because I hate to endorse this sort of behavior and just being grateful he's alive and coming home because he feels like he needs some time with mom. Thank you for reminding how short life is and what's important! Let's pray everyone is still sane in September! xoxo diane

  10. Drama. Drama. Drama. Gotta LOVE daughters!
    A favorite post. You have a way with words.
    Stay sane this summer.

  11. I HAVE GOT HER TWIN !!! Liz

  12. This is one of my favorite of your posts yet Ellie. Because I can hear all of the dialogue so clearly! But methinks it is a very good thing that Gracie does not read your blog or something far worse than Chickengate would break loose. :)

    Sending you Love a Green Juice spike with Tumeric Energy,

  13. Uh oh. I am about to go to the airport to pick up my teenage son coming home from his first year at college in America :) Here's to hoping boys are more chill!

  14. My 29 year old daughter, who I recently saw in person for the first time in two years (but who I see on Facetime every week between visits to the States) told me that I had to work on not hugging her too hard when I see her because it reminds her of my father, who is 86 and whom she loves dearly, because "you don't want to start doing those Grandpa hugs, Mom". Sheesh! I remember the teenage years. I miss them now!

  15. Someone once said that small children are like puppies. They are so much fun and always want to be with you. When they become adolescents they turn into cats. Everything they do is on their terms. You just have to realize that your puppy is gone but still with you in another form. We send them off to college for their final transformation. When they return they will be nice dogs. Gracie's just isn't finished yet. Step back and watch.

    It's great you are keeping a "diary" of your child's growth into womanhood. This was a wonderful blog for all of us mothers.

  16. I have one like that too Ellie but it doesn’t stop at teenage. When she moved in with her husband when she got back from living in London she complained about - the house smelled (she was pregnant) my cleaning products smelled, she hated our food, we lived too far from the city, we didn’t eat at the right time, the milk wasn’t the right milk, we ate too much meat, the house was cold, television was too big and not in the right position, her father waited on me too much - Oh I could go on! Thank goodness it was only a few weeks. Life was hell. I’m sure her husband felt sorry for us but was probably too scared to say anything. But I get the loving seeing and hearing them too. It’s her birthday today. Kate from Australia x

  17. a few of my favorite and most loyal clients came to me as disastrous color corrections. Just make sure Gracie is not a repeat offender. For whatever reason it seems people forget their box-color tragedies quickly. But it is a good way to bond with your stylist, after you spend an entire day and several hundred dollars having it fixed :) now that's not to say no one can use box color. It works perfectly well for some people. But it's a roll of the dice. And when it's bad, it's really bad!
    Daughters are evil and I can't believe the things my adult sister still says to my mom. as my mother would say, raising boys prepares you for livestock and raising girls prepares you for chemical warfare. She's glad to only have 33% daughter. We were shopping a few weeks ago and my sister told my mom a pair of shoes she liked looked like they were made for "a fat, senile whore in Taos".

    1. La Comtesse LolaJune 2, 2015 at 11:16 PM

      Oh my God Stephen Andrew, I love you!

  18. Thank you Ellie! You've made all the mother's, who can can totally relate to your situation, feel a little better...because..."misery loves company!" ;)

  19. them; can't live with them or without them. And always they make your heart flutter. Have a super week. Can't wait to see your new inventory items. xoxo Mary

  20. Loved the column. Boys are much easier, but enjoy your girl.

  21. Ellie I can relate completely because my fifteen year old granddaughter spends quite a bit of time with me. Particular, oh so very particular, about EVERYTHING!! Hang in there!!

    The Arts by Karena
    Coco Chanel

  22. Ha! I am in the same boat, our daughter Emily is home from NYC for the summer and we are all adjusting. I have made her meditate with me every day because I said she needs to be able to manage stress in a positive and healing manner,...(you know, instead of eye rolling or silent treatment) she looked at me like I was a moron, which I am sometimes, but since I teach meditation and also have a say in finances, I held trump. My goal is for her to go back to theatre school in the fall knowing how to manage stress and be happy that her parents are not total idiots after all;) PS> Can't wait for the next sale!!! I am still a bit bitter about losing out on the chinoiserie tray;)

  23. Well, I have one of each, both in their twenties, and my daughter (second born) has been MUCH, MUCH easier than my son (first born) for whom it is EVERYTHING-gate. I wonder if it comes down to birth order as much as gender. Come to think of it, I am actually more like my son, and I am a first born child of two (I have a younger brother). But I love them passionately and I can't imagine them other than who they are. C'est la vie!

  24. This is why God gave me boys. However, my husband could give Gracie a run for her money on who is the most high maintenance. Luckily, right now he is conducting his own Chipmunkgate as he screams and hollers, stomps, windmills his arms and cusses a blue streak because they have set up shop in a hole in his new grass. All the while, the chipmunks and I just laugh and laugh.....

  25. I have three daughters - 16, 18 & 21. The oldest has come out the other side, and the youngest doesn't hate me yet, but the 18 year old barely tolerates me. It's nice to know I am not alone. Thank you for making me laugh every time I read your posts. You make my world a better place.

  26. The "Talk to the Hand!" photo is the perfect way to set the tone for this post! Pitch perfection.

  27. I love your stories...this one was great. I love my pink kid, but oh my! can she rattle me.

  28. OMG!!!! I'm laughing so hard! My "pumpkin" who is turning 18 next week, has been a pleasure to raise. But just this week I saw her become Linda Blair. She has said, and I quote, I don't ever want to talk to you again… There is no way I am traveling with that woman (me) this summer…. I can't wait to get the hell out of this house forever…. Amongst many other things. And for the time being, I am giving her exactly what she needs… Space and time. Might be hormones, might be that the time for her to leave is closer every day, but I in no way wish to fall for her manipulative Linda Blair's explosion. My husband said to me "Our time to educate her is over" And I totally disagree! My time of educating her will be over the day she is financially independent and doesn't live in my house. Until then she will have to deal with the witch (me).

  29. I think I have her twin living in my house too!!!
    Hope it is a happy, sunny and healthy as you can be summer for you and your lovely family x

  30. Hysterical, what a good writer you are. I have a daughter, granddaughter and daughter in law. Just lucky I guess.

  31. Wow. To be so loved and to love so much. THIS is the genius of daughters and mothers. And YOU captured it perfectly, with Parisian design context, and in euros.