We’ve said right from the get go that France has been harder for our kids than it has been for us. After all, the language school we attend has been teaching missionaries French for 50 years. They understand our lack of comprehension, they speak French to us slowly and at the start of the year they even translated things into English for those of us who spoke no French. Our kids did not have that luxury. I’ve heard their teachers speak. They speak fast, very fast, and at first they did not understand how very little French our kids understood.In addition to all the language woes, there have been instances where we, as parents, have messed things up, or misunderstood, and made difficult French school even more difficult.
- Like the time this fall when I sent Biniyam to school in shorts and a t-shirt and he came home at lunch wearing pants… hum… He told me they went ice skating for PE and all the other kids had coats and gloves (and pants). Thankfully his teacher had pants for him to put on over his shorts. When we told Greg his eyes brightened “Oh, that must have been the word I couldn’t figure out in his agenda yesterday.”
- Or, the first day of school for our girls (they are both in middle school although Mekdes should be in 5th, the age cut off is different here). They had received a very long supply list and we had visited multiple stores, multiple times, to figure out what they needed and get it all. However, we thought that the 1st day of school was an orientation and that they didn’t need to bring anything. I sent them to school with one small bag containing 2 pens and 2 small notebooks. Then, at drop off, we saw all the other students arriving with backpacks, the girls did not want me to humiliate them by returning with theirs. But, once in their classroom and seated apart, the teacher YELLED at Ella for not having the right stuff. (Can you imagine anyone yelling at Ella?) It was so hard to have Ella, who’s always loved school, beg us not to send her back.
- Or on Tuesday, when I sent Biniyam to school in a speedo, a hand-me-down speedo. But alas, he’s swimming for PE and that is what the boys are required to wear.
- But, the one incident we will be talking about for years to come is the day we meticulously translated the note in Biniyam’s agenda at at night. The note was about a field trip for the next day where the kids were going to walk about 2 miles to a park and then back to the school. The note said to put a reflector vest on your child. We were not sure what they were talking about, and all the stores were closed, so I took the only thing we had, the florescent yellow vest with reflectors that is part of our required car safety kit. It was way too big for him and looked ridiculous, but, the next morning off he went to school as pictured below. As we walked towards the building I noted that no other child was wearing a reflector vest. I told Biniyam I thought we should take his off, but he wouldn’t “I don’t want to make my teacher mad, I don’t want to get yelled at, I think I should keep it on.” So off to school he went. About an hour later Greg received a call from the father of one of Biniyam’s classmates, a fellow missionary. He said he was chaperoning the field trip and asked if he could take Biniyam’s reflector vest off as he was the only student wearing one. He also told us that yes, the note said to put a reflector vest on our child, be no one actually does it. We’re grateful that this dad intervened to save Biniyam from a full day of being super safe and absolutely ridiculous.