Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Les Cactus, Dragon Tails & Smelly Feet

Yesterday I went on a field trip with the Middlest's class. We didn't go far, just to the next town over. The kids at our school are pen pals with the kids there. They've been writing and sharing correspondence since January and yesterday they all got to meet. I missed out on the silk museum field trip but was quick to add my name to the list of helper mamans this time.

We left after lunch all climbing onto the big, hot bus.As you know, I've done this a few times for swimming lessons but it always takes me awhile to get used to all the kid's harder to understand than when adults speak and they don't usually give visual cues like grown-up French do. Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so you have no idea how glad I was to be traveling for just five miles. The bus was hot, hot, hot and full of birds' nest smelling kids.

It was worth it though. Worth the smelly kid feet just to be there and watch my boy in action. I got a good idea of how it must be for him to be surrounded by French all day....and no wonder they're learning so quickly. Immersion or as the French say, 'un bain de langue' does make all the difference.

I was asked to help with the 'catch the dragon tail' game they played and did my concentrating hard face to understand the instructions the teacher gave. To the kids. I've been over generous with myself to think I'm on a 3rd grade level since I worked hard to follow the 1st grade teacher.

We shared a gouter (literally translated it means to taste but that's what they call a snack) and then the Middlests' class thanked their new friends with a few songs.

I don't know why this is true but it is; when little kids sing in French it is adorable, magical, très mignon.

And my guy sang right along, not missing a word or a beat and smiling, smiling. To say I felt proud isn't enough. I always feel a bit ridiculous at these things because of the tears that prick my eyes. Imagine how embarrassing it would be for the Middlest if his mother cried in front of his friends. It's bad enough that I mispronounce things and smile at him like a mental patient, so I controlled myself and no one even noticed that I got a bit misty.

After our kids sang, the other class wanted to share a couple of their songs too. They are all getting ready for the big end of school year shows so they've got a repetoire of songs at the ready.

So, cue the music.....this was the moment that the past and present collided in an absolutely hilarious way. Stay with me here. Years ago at home in Texas, way back when the Mari was just a boyfriend we'd hang out with friends listening to music, dancing and having a cocktail or two. (uh, hum)

One of the songs we loved to dance to was Les Cactus, sung by Vanessa Paradis. This was long before she was Mrs Johnny Depp. I loved the song and how she sang it and would shake and wriggle my 20 something tush off right along with her.
Fast forward to my 3* year-old tush sitting on a tiny person chair in a school in the South of France, mother of three, master of 1st grade level French.
The kids started singing Vanessa's song, complete with wriggle and 'Aie! aie! ouille! aie!' just like she did all those years ago. You gotta wriggle when you sit on a cactus!

And I felt like the perfect blend of my young and present selves these 16 years later, laughing inside at the sublime way of life; how it twists and turns and bends back on itself, surprising and delighting in equal measure. C'est la vie. Ain't it grand?


  1. Sounds like one of those perfect moments in life when everything is just right :)
    I love going on field trips with my girls and being able to see them in their "element".

  2. I've never seen this song before - how funny that your family has come full circle! Kid French is some of the hardest to follow, I agree. I'm constantly looking to the maman for clarification (if she's there). But boy, they all sound so cute when they talk.
    The songs for Spectacle are in heavy rotation around here too. J came home singing 'In the Jungle (the Lion Sleeps Tonight)' in French! I was absolutely delighted, so cool!

  3. Do you think you can get him to sing this for us this weekend? I want to wiggle my tush! x

  4. I love this story! I love how the past and present can collide in music: for me, it's been my daughter and I singing Van Halen's Jump in the car. Well, the bits we know anyway. I just never expected that. Don't blame you at all for getting misty-eyed and thrilled all at once...


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