Thursday, September 23, 2010

Class Reunion or Je Me Suis Trompe, Toujours

I'm always messing things up. I get dates switched, times wrong, misunderstand some vital piece of information. I suppose/hope it's only the language that's got me all mixed up and not some form of dementia. It could be a combination of the language, three kids, and a calendar that starts with Monday rather than Sunday.

My latest snafu was this week when I thought the Middlest's class reunion was on Tuesday when it was actually on Monday. My lovely and very important husband is away all week so I had to be organized. I arranged for a friend to watch the kids on Tuesday night, planned the dinner I'd prepare for all of them while I was at the meeting and patted  myself on the back for being so efficient.

The trouble started when on Monday at pick-up as I exchanged trois bisous with Msr Bon Ami he asked me if I was coming to the meeting. 'Oui, bien sur, demain.', I replied, full of confidence and efficiency. 'But the meeting is tonight', il m'a dit. What?! Tonight?! Oh, crap. I've gotten it all wrong again.
To make matters worse the meeting was at 6pm. I discovered my inefficiency at 5:15, had three children to contend with and the arrangements I'd made for Tuesday didn't help me at all on Monday night. Msr. Bon Ami said he would take them for me but he had a doctor's appointment for his daughter and dancing lessons for his son. No can do.

Now this is one of the things about being far from home that really is the worst. When your husband is in the Netherlands or Germany or somewhere not where you are when all your well-laid plans go bust you feel quite frantic and alone. For some reason I never considered not going to the meeting. Not really for some reason, but for a couple of reasons.....1) this is their first full year in French school and I need to look like I'm on top of things 2) I love the teacher and want to show her how much I appreciate her efforts and 3) I get the feeling they take these meetings very seriously.
And thanks to my wonderful amie Canadienne I went. I owe her big time.

On to the very serious meeting. Of course it was all in French....I keep saying this and I know you know it but it really is true...they speak a lot of French here.
We started with general information like the date of the fete and spectacle (in June) and reminders of the drop-off and pick-up times, lunch times, and basic housekeeping stuff. Then we moved on to the meat of the matter.
First, to reading. Which is obviously important. I have a deeper furrow in my brow from all my brain grabbing words like consonne, voyelle, and syllabe as they flew through the air. It almost started to sound like English after an hour or so. And I felt this weird feeling I get here sometimes when I realize the problem isn't the words themselves but putting them in the right order. It's like it all makes sense when I hear it but I could never repeat it or say it myself.

After reading we moved on to handwriting. You should know that they start writing in cursive here very early. The Middlest is in CP which is roughly equivalent to 1st Grade.The kids call it 'special French cursive' because it looks a bit different than our American script. And special it is.
I don't know if you remember learning handwriting in school but it wasn't that big of a deal, was it? We practiced a letter every morning in our cursive handwriting book and then moved on. Mme. Gentil had drawn lines of different colors (violet and bleu) and widths just like in the copy books on the board for the specific purpose of showing we parents how it should be done. She then gave us examples of where the letter should begin: at the wide purple line, and how far up different letters should go: for the round letters, only up to the first blue line, for letters like 'l' all the way up to the bottom of the third blue line and for some reason the 't' only gets to reach as far as the second blue line. I'm not kidding. 
This was when people started getting excited. One mother raised her hand and asked a question about something very important that I couldn't understand but the answer required a lot more writing of letters like 'p' and 'n'. Then a conversation broke out about how to hold a pen and how not to start off with bad habits that would last a lifetime and oh, no what to do about those 'gauchers'. Did you know that the 'cross' on the letter 't' is called a 'casquette'? Which, incidentally is the same word for cap. Cute. But did you also know that under no circumstances should the casquette go through the 't', only start at the right side of it and flow out? I didn't. But now I do.

And in closing on the subject of handwriting, we were told the following, "It is important to learn properly and only then can they begin to develop a writing personality, a 'facon d'ecrire'. What is your writing personality?

Turns out that all my kids got the stomach bug Monday night, missed school on Tuesday and most likely left a disgusting calling card for my lovely amie Canadienne and her trois petites. Now I super rock n' roll owe her big time. I don't think a handwritten note will do it no matter how much personality I put into it. I think this calls for bubbly wine. And lots of it.


  1. Wow, they really do care about their cursive. I'm wandering if this is new (though I doubt it) because my husband's handwriting is atrocious. He really should have been a doctor.

    And nothing says merci like bubbly!

    And one more thing... I love homesick Texan! I have her posts sent to my email :-)

  2. Am making her chipotle salsa this weekend.

    And your hubby must not have paid attention in CP, held his stylo all wrong, and developed his personal writing style before he had the basics down. Pity, really. I wonder how he gets by in this world?

    A x

  3. This may come as a surprise Aidan, but in most French schools, as a general rule, they've gotten MUCH more relaxed about the writing, compared to twenty years ago. I know, but really!

    Hang in there while your husband is AWOL. And pat yourself on the back for all you're managing. In a still unfamiliar language. I'm relieved for you that you were able to attend: to my surprise last year, the first meeting, which I inadvertently missed, was the ONLY meeting. Geez.

  4. Tammy,
    Thanks for the encouragement, he's finally home!
    And their school has been wonderful and it all seems more or less ok, that is if I'm understanding it correctly. Their homework is an education for me too. Maybe I'll be up to 3rd grade level by the end of the year.
    Bon weekend!


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