The Butterfly Emerges....she's a papillon

Did you know that in French public school they take your kids swimming

as part of the curriculum? I didn’t either. And it’s wonderful. They

spend a semester going once a week and learning the basics. For free.

One more thing to recommend school here as far as I’m concerned.

All they ask is that parents sign up to come along on the bus, help the

kids change, and retain some order to and fro once a semester.

Yesterday was my day to chaperone Ma Fille’s class. As with all

of these school functions and volunteering, the kids giggle when I speak

French, ask me their two favorite questions in English, ‘whot ees yourh

nahme?’ and ‘how h’old arhe yoooh?’ and stare, stare, stare. And in

each case my kids are a strange combination of proud and embarrassed.

As I have just been randomly asked ‘not to ever dance in front of my

friends’, as if she’s got some big dance party planned and is afraid I’m

going to start shaking it and doing my signature move–thumbs up,

moving across and alternating sides, hips shifting with the thumbs (it’s

something very special)–I felt maybe the embarrassed might be inching

up on the proud and I’d better be on my best behavior.

I was mostly quiet. Speaking only when spoken to, ‘My name is Aidan.’ ‘I am 3* years old.’ Tee hee, giggle, stare.

The best part was watching my lovely fille. She was giggling, holding hands and speaking French. The entire time. Even to me. This is the girl who used to say, ‘Je suis timide

and refuse to talk. Now she’s in on the jokes. Looking out from

sparkling eyes, saying things I can’t even understand and fitting right

in. I cannot tell you how proud and happy it makes me feel to see this

happening. I was told it would. And I hoped and believed and now it’s

coming true. If there was any one thing I was most ‘inquiet

about before moving here it was the kids being in French school. I can

whole-heartedly say that everyone was right. And like most worries, it

was unfounded.

As I sat on that bus, rumbling back to the school, my heart nearly burst
with joy for her. She didn't cling to me or want me to sit with her,
'sit behind me mommy'. But it wasn't like she didn't want me there
either. She was happy for me to see. To know who she is out there in the
French world without me and how well she's doing.

Is there anything we want more for our children than that? No matter where we live or who we are.

I’m glad you found value in the post. It is so hard being a parent and wonder if we’re making the right decisions. It wasn’t easy at the beginning, especially for my daughter and that’s why it means so much to me now. She is very shy and like Jacqueline said about her son, she wouldn’t speak at all. She’s only just started all the talking and will read short passages in class. My husband was very worried that they wouldn’t think she knew what was going on or that she wasn’t a smart student. I have a 6 yr old son too and if you live close enough there are never too many English speaking friends in his life. And we all have ‘moments’ don’t we? Goodness knows I do! And hopefully when they’re older and fluent they’ll look back on this and thank us. Right?

Natasha, hang on in there. We all read stories of children slipping into the French system and language within a few months with no problems, but for us it was a little different. Eddy is now 10 and started in Moyenne Section at 4, and it took him 4 full terms before he spoke a word. He was so quiet in class the teachers didn’t think he had understood a word, but one day he spoke and then never shut up. He finished Grande section with a better vocabulary than some of the French children (according to his teacher). Give him time.

Aiden - thank you so much for your blog… it has actually brought tears to my eyes just reading it. My 6 yo has been in eductaion system for just over a year and although hes seems to be settling in well he still has ‘moments’ and during these times I panic that we have done the wrong thing for him. Reading about your daughter has made me realise that it is a learning process and it may take time but when it happens it will be amazing! x

In our area parents are asked to take a one day course in order to help out in the water with the children. It was really good fun - we got to try out all the equipment and games they use to help with the children’s water confidence, as well as being good for my French. I am now the proud owner of a certificate valid for 3 years!