She's right. If I look up and happen to lock pupils for a millisecond I'll end up getting a French accordian serenade all for me which isn't something that's going to make the trip into the centre of town on the jam-packed number 16 tram any more pleasant.
Buskers are not only on the streets here - playing publicly-available upright pianos chained to fountains for the summer music celebrations or dragging double bases and violins to ATM entry points - but also on public transport. I think we've heard exactly three French-classic songs (whose titles escape me) over and over and over again.
The offender then walks up and down the aisle with his cap. "Bonjour Madame, sil vous plait Madame.... Bonjour Monsieur, sil vous plait...." Only once have I seen one woman hand over a single franc. Most of us look down, jam in ear pieces if we have them or stare determinedly out of the window. We all want to get somewhere and enforced entertainment isn't part of the ticket cost.
"But hey," I poked Sapphire, "we know know how to say The Finger in French now - la doigt!"
She rolls her eyes but also laughs. These are little victories that we share with each other to make the unfamiliar an amusement instead of intimidating. The sun shines through the glass onto her hair. "So should I give La Doigt to the next guy who plays his accordian?"
Rubbing my chin whilst also keeping an eye on the telly screen that lists each stop, I pretend to consider it. "Well, it could mean that Geneve Hopital finds itself with a patient who is begging for a particularly challenging object to be removed from a part of themselves not often seen in polite company but if you're willing to risk it and have the results posted up on Facebook, then go for it."
Baby steps. Find your joy. Think about the positives. Cliches all but boy, they've worked for me this week. I had to laugh when a neighbour informed me that the above sign - a dog in a circle without a line through it meant that they were NOT welcome.
"Oh, I thought that this was the part where dogs could play."
"Red is no, madame."
Ah. This was good to know before our beloved dog Milly arrives and we lodge ourselves further in the concierge's bad books. Every time I've tried to cram a few more IKEA boxes into the communal (and tiny) recycling bin he's been nearby; pretending to sweep the foyer but really watching me through his one good eye, suspicious of this loud Australian ignoramus who doesn't wear make up or heels and parades her big bags of les ordures far too publicly and far too often.
Sapphire and I have quizzed each other over counting to twenty, then a hundred; followed by key body parts and days of the week and are both eagerly looking forward to our next lesson. It serves more than one purpose - it's something that we can do together that will benefit us and gives us two entries in the diary every week until school starts. Outings, moments of time and then recuperation at home; a home that gets something extra in it from every visit outside.
Any English we hear out in the street is immediately noticed. Our eyes meet and we smile - someone else is here. The familiar stands out a mile amongst the indecipherable. Sapphire described it well this morning as we exited Coop store with blankets and towels bundled in plastic bags. "It all sounds like noise until you hear something you can understand."
Oh and whatever you do, don't buy the enticingly-titled 'picnic eggs' in dozen packs. They're hard-boiled and you feel like a right gonzo when they bounce off the side of the frypan instead of willingly cracking open for the start of a breakfast omelette.
Wee glimpses for sure, but the scratchings of a new life are emerging.