The kids have been in school for almost three weeks. Things are swell, most of the time.
Sagan needed to catch up with her classmates in reading and writing French, so she was put into a French language class twice a week in the afternoons. After a few days of working with the language teacher, Ms. Lucie, we were told that Sagan was more advanced than the other non-native speakers and she needed to attend class with children closer to her level. Unfortunately, this class was at a different school. So for now we are walking her to this new school two afternoons a week.
Kailas has warmed up to his class. When the teacher talks to him he understands what she is saying. The funny thing is he doesn’t realize that he understands. I wouldn’t say he was eager to go to school, but he enjoys it once there. Sagan has started speaking French to him at home and when Kailas responds to her, half of the time it is in Spanish! The languages are similar and he has retained a lot from MIS, so it’s all good.
Getting the kids to and from school a couple of times a day has turned out to be a time consuming job. And then there’s “No School Wednesdays.” I’ve been investigating what kids do here on that day off from school- more to the point, what do parents do with their kids on Wednesdays?
1. They lug them from one extracurricular activity to another, all day long.
2. One mom told me she lets them sleep in and then they go to “catechism” that afternoon. Yuck.
3. They let them play unsupervised in the streets.
4. They enroll them at the closest Maison des Jeunes, (MJC).
Coordinating multiple private lessons for both kids was not something we were interested in doing, so we opted to sign them both up for an all-day program at the MJC. Thankfully there were spots open for both children. This MJC program offers art, theater, dance and various sports activities and takes place in a school building about fifteen minutes away on foot from our apartment (eight minutes if you walk at Mark speed). This Wednesday was their first time there. This isn’t a free service; people pay according to what income tax bracket they are in. We’ve observed that this is the case for many other services, including school lunches.
Speaking of lunch, with this MJC program we wouldn’t have to pick them up until 17:00 (that’s 5 pm for ya’ll in the States) since lunch was provided. Wow, I haven’t gone a day without seeing the kids since…hmmm, have I had a childless day this year? Yikes, no wonder I can’t remember my real name.
The lunch situation at school is still the same for Kailas; there is literally no seat at the table for him at school. We continue to pick him up at 11:20 am every school day and bring him back to school at 1:20 pm. I’ll let a couple of weeks go by and then inquire once more. Perhaps there will be an opening.
Sagan, however, is now eating with her classmates at school. She gives me a full report of every course when she gets home (yes, they have courses!). From what she’s told me of the menu – items such as spinach soufflé, breaded mussels and chocolate mousse – I approve. She’ll probably come home and tell me they had a wine tasting next.
A few days ago I learned that the kids were going to celebrate “Carnival” at school. Not exactly like Mardi Gras, the purpose is to celebrate the rebirth of the earth and springtime and the occasion calls for costumes. I didn’t think Kailas would be too keen on that, since I couldn’t even get him to wear the shoes that are required for the classroom (kids put on clean ‘indoor’ shoes that haven’t walked through doggie doo land mines that decorate the streets of Lyon). I was surprised to see how excited he was about wearing a costume, and he specifically wanted to be “a bug of some kind.”
His bee costume wasn’t something I could’ve anticipated needing in France, and there are no convenient Party Pigs to pop into. Meh, no problemo. Aucun problème. Mark ran out last night and did the best he could to fill my List of Items Needed To Build A Bug:
– Black, mock turtleneck (he got a short sleeved tee)
– Tri-pack of long, black socks (score!)
– Bag of pipe cleaners (he actually found some “real” ones at a tobacco store)
– Black headband (score!)
– Black and red paint and a brush (tiny tubes of gauche?- that’ll work)
Time to make a ladybug. I used five of the six socks. Mark sewed two onto the short sleeves while I stuffed two more with plastic baggies to make extra arms, and the fifth was attached to the cardboard wings so it could slip over his neck. Part of an egg crate was used for his “bug eye” glasses. We both enjoyed the morning together creating a costume for our little boy.
When Kailas came home for lunch, he tried it on and was delighted with what we had made. He finished his lunch while I looked for Sagan’s black gloves to top it all off.
All of the classes were planning to walk to the Place Bellecour in their costumes after lunch, and the parents were invited to join them. When we stepped out to take him back to class, it was sprinkling. The plans for the costume parade would probably be scrapped.
Kailas wanted to quickly get his costume on when he saw that all of the other kids were already in their disguises. I sat down on a dangerously tiny stool and helped him get the four-armed shirt over his head. He enthusiastically pulled down his pants (he was wearing a pair of his sister’s black leggings underneath) while I slipped the wings over his head. I was adjusting his antennae when a tiny cowboy walked by and gave us the once over. Kailas suddenly became self-aware. Soon after a little glittery fairy girl walked up and checked out Kailas’ extra arms and wings. A teacher’s assistant noticed my little bug and smiled. He did look adorable.
But the fun was over.
Kailas had a complete change of heart. He was not going to dress up, he did not even want to be there and then he burst into angry tears.
We all came back home. We all settled down. After about thirty minutes, Mark took him back to class, sans costume.
When the kids got home this rainy afternoon, safely back inside our little apartment with no curious cowboys are felicitous fairies about, Kailas put on his costume. He wanted to show his big sister.
So, even with the rain and tears, it is all good. Kailas is still in his costume, giving everyone big hugs with his four arms.