Archive for May, 2012

Since You’ve Been Gone (Also: “Since You’ve Been Home”, but that’s not a song).

I’ll probably be posting for the next month or so about France/Italy, because I never got around to saying a lot of what I wanted to. But first, something a little more¬†relevant.

Since I’ve been gone:

  1. Mice have taken over the house. They poop everywhere. I have no idea whether anyone has thought to put up traps, but I don’t see any. Midnite is the only cat allowed inside and he’s old and doesn’t like mice. So that’s useful.
  2. My sisters took over my room. Predictable. But the state I got it back in is… Interesting. Because of the next thing.
  3. The leak (that’s been going on at least 3 years) in my closet has been fixed. However, the mold is still there, possibly still growing on the old water damage. I had to move my closet into my room before I left, and had everything precariously arranged. (I think.) My sisters had to do whatever it was that they did to live in my room while I was gone, meaning nothing is where I think I left it and a couple of things are broken.
  4. My dad built a tack barn for the horse stuff. It has a lock and everything. It’s also where they decided to put the cat food.
  5. I’ll spare you the sob story of me being a horrible plant mommy freshman year of college. The short version is that I had a lavender plant hanging on to life in a clay pot (I transplanted it as it got bigger, and I was keeping it in a pot because I wanted to take it with me wherever I moved) until last summer, when I finally told my dad to plant it outside. It grew really fast in the soil, and now, it has flowers! It’s so big and purple!
  6. Last year, we (my dad) redid our back porch, which included ripping off the steps and ripping out the bushes just in front of the house. ūüė¶ And throwing away the old broken door with a “Love an Engineer” bumper sticker on the window that someone stuck there becasue they thought it was a window sticker… Anyway, my dad finished making the space between where the house and the stairs start look fancy. No more bushes, no more falling apart brick wall thing .I don’t really know how to describe it, so I hope the picture makes it make sense.It’s too fancy. I’m not really sure that this is the same house I grew up in.
  7. There’s also a new dormat that I like. It looks like rocks!And my shadow, but that’s not really supposed to be there…
  8. Robert’s in Hendersonville (?), KY for the summer. He’s a paid intern for Tyson chicken. All I know is he’s living in the middle of nowhere and I haven’t seen him since August.
  9. Rachel’s moved into Robert’s room. There’s a pink rug.
  10. No one had cleaned out the litterbox in forever.
  11. The girls are using the top of the dryer as a 4th closet or something instead of just a temporary storing place.

Since I’ve been home:

  1. My sisters tried to singlehandedly start World War 3.
  2. Eeyore, the little grey kitten Ryann had to adopt right before I left now lets me pet her. She’s also bigger than before.
  3. The horse¬†slobbered¬†all over my hand. At least she didn’t bite it.
  4. Rachel’s ring ceremony was yesterday and her junior prom is tomorrow. Since she needed more reasons to be a princess. But seriously, I was laughing throughout the ceremony for some reason, although it probably looked like I was crying. I think I was slap happy, but in my defense, funny things were happening. I feel so old.
  5. The sister fight was so bad that Ryann didn’t go to Rachel’s ring ceremony. As far as I remember,¬†she¬†normally¬†would have gone without a second thought because Rachel is her best friend.
  6. I woke up at 5 my first morning back and did laundry. I still don’t feel adjusted properly. I’m so tired I fall asleep in my dreams. Also, a couple of people have pointed out that I have reverse culture shock.
  7. I’ve applied to summer jobs.
  8. I need to figure out my life before school starts in August.
  9. I have a disaster of a room to clean and try to fit stuff in. I think I’m going to do a major clothes/book/stuff donation. There just isn’t enough space. Maybe this is a sign of needing to move out. I am ready to live in more than one room.
  10. On mother’s day, my mom told all the waiters that I had just gotten home as I was explaining the Italian on the menu to Seth.
  11. I want cheese and baguettes and Emilie’s crepes. Even French¬†restaurant¬†crepes aren’t as good as hers.

All these adjustments and I haven’t made it back to TKD yet. I’m very much an uprooted plant at the moment. Luckily this time I know I have help.

Things Children Say/Do (Part III)

Their General Bluntness:

Anouk: Rebecca, I find you really beautiful without glasses.

Thanks?

 

Class one day: Rebecca, we don’t have a teacher because his wife is dead!

Pretty sure I didn’t breathe for a bit.

 

Anouk: I want to KILL Cruella!

Emilie and I both had to explain to her why such violence towards a fictional character probably wasn’t good.

 

 

Knowing how to irritate people:

(during a lesson on St. Patrick’s day, while I’m trying to explain how leprechauns are different from elves) Kid: I went to Ireland once.

Me: Really? Did you see any leprechauns?

Kid: (scoffs) No. They don’t exist.

Me: Well, it’s like Tinkerbelle. You can’t say they don’t exist, or-

Kid: They don’t exist.

Sometimes I act more like a child than an 8 year old. Oh well. To be fair, this was probably a stupid thing to ask of an 8 year old. But I¬†want faeries/fairies/however you want to spell them to exist. It’d be fun.

 

 

Interesting cultural understandings:

(In a different class, putting a poster of St. Patrick’s day stuff on the board. In the center of the poster is a leprechaun and a sheep) Me or Teacher: Okay, can you describe what this is a poster of?

Kid: An Irishman!

Me: … (in my head, then sorta mumbled later on) Irish people don’t normally have pointed ears, but oh well.

 

One of the teachers let the kids just ask questions about the US on my last day. Anything they wanted. They came up with interesting things, like “How many cities are there in North America?” and “How do you grow food in America? How do you raise animals?” Luckily I could sort of answer those ones…

 

There is a girl in Emilie’s class I’d always assumed was Spanish because her name is Rosalinda and she seemed to be a couple of years older than her peers (meaning she was put in a class lower than her age when her family immigrated to give her time to catch up with French in order to understand the actual lessons.)

Rosalinda: Rebecca, did you know “oval” means “egg” in my language?

Me: No, I didn’t. It comes from “egg” in English, because it’s the same shape. What’s your first language?

Rosalinda: Turkish.

In which Rebecca learns not only the nationality of a student, but also a word in Turkish. Your linguistics lesson of the day:¬†“oval” and words like it (“ovular,” “ovaries”) really do come from “egg,” which in French is “oeuf.” Makes sense. There are so many cool things hidden in language.

 

(doing a presentation on the US. There’s a picture of George Washington. One student was really, really confused.) “He’s a president! Now? Of France? Oh, right, we’re not talking about France. Wait. He’s dead?”

(after explaining that university in the US is really, really expensive, the teacher then asked questions about driving. It cost at least 1,000 euros just to get a licence in France.) One girl (Elisa?): So, you go to the US to get your driver’s licence, but come to France to go to university.

Smart kid.

 

 

Firmin:

I don’t think I’ve mentioned him. Laguenne is the only school I worked at without a different class for special needs kids. Firmin took a liking to me after the first lesson and spent the next three weeks telling me a story about some doctor lady who is from England but now lives in Canada but was his doctor at some point… I never fully understood, because he always told the story while turning in circles. He asked me in all seriousness, “Have you seen her?” Like all of North America is as small as Tulle and its environs. (“Environ’s an English word too, right?) And he kept repeating, “Il y a beaucoup de neige en Canada… Mais c’est vrai qu’il y a beaucoup de neige en Canada.” Yes, indeed. There is a lot of snow in Canada.

 

 

Wisdom on boys:

Zo√©: Boys are stupid. It’s horrible!

Me: It doesn’t change, either. Well, actually, it does get a little better. Some of them aren’t stupid anymore.

Zo√©: No, it doesn’t get better. Boys are dumb. They always will be.

I wish I’d heard something like this about girls… (Likely a boy wouldn’t tell his female teacher that, though.) The only thing I heard about a boy was a “Pierre, you can’t touch girls’ butts!” from the teacher. I think it was the same day he and Zo√© were fighting over something and he tried to get her in trouble for hitting him. So this is probably part of why she thinks boys are stupid.

And I thought I was getting away from this by working with children.

 

 

Jean being cute:

There’s a flower in France called a coucou, more officially called a primev√®re. According to wordreference.com, in English these are called primroses. They’re small yellow bell flowers.

original photo here

Emilie was trying to describe these to me and how it was weird that there weren’t more of them. She somehow spotted one on the side of the road and pulled over and told me to pick it. She then said it was mine, because otherwise it would be war if Anouk had one but Jean didn’t. For the rest of the day Anouk was upset and searched everywhere for a flower because it was so unjust that she didn’t have one. Of course, I left “my” flower there in a glass of water. According to Emilie, a few days later, Jean picked up the glass and stood outside the guest bedroom where I normally sleep saying “Ka, Ka.” He can’t, or maybe just won’t, say my whole name. I spelled it with a “k” to differentiate between my name and “caca.” Anyway, when Emilie told him I wasn’t there, he cried. He had to go to the daycare that day (I guess because the grandmother was busy?) and he took the flower with him.

 

Anouk was at dance class. While shopping, we passed raddishes, which Anouk loves. Jean saw them and exclaimed, “Anouk!” So Emilie looked at the price and bought some raddishes.

 

(holding out a leaf) “Tiens, Ka.” (translation: “Take this as a present, Rebecca.”)

 

 

Anouk being a sponge for whatever goes on in her life:

“Well, I’m not voting for anyone. Because politicians are all liars.” (the exact words of her mother)

 

“Okay, we’re going to play orphans. Our parents are dead and there’s a hunter trying to kill us. Let’s run!” Er, what? Again, what goes on at that school of hers? I know this is probably a normal, healthy way of dealing with dark things (because dark things are going to happen), but a 5 year old saying this so directly is shocking.

 

 

Last day of classes:

Thursdays I worked (past tense!) one hour before recreation and one hour after. During the recreation, two girls kept begging me to stay.

Girl #1: Please, please stay?

Me: I can’t. I’m sorry I can’t…

Her: You don’t like us!

I do! I just have to go home.

I have an idea! All your family and friends can just move here!

Um… What about the horses? You can’t move them.

Yes! Pleasee!

Girl #2: Horses are her favourite animal.

 

Continued… Me: I’ll come back!

Her: Okay, when you come back we’ll meet here.

Me: Okay. How will I find you?

Me: Next year you’ll have another English assistant and you won’t even remember me.

Her: I don’t want¬†another¬†assistant. I want you! And I will remember!

 

This continued almost throughout the entire recreation. These two girls, and later a boy surrounded me and were hugging onto my arms and begging me not to leave. I had no idea I’d left any impression on them at all. I looked over at the circle of teachers and shrugged.

I managed to get into the teachers lounge for a tea. I said, “I have no idea what I did!” Kathy, the teacher woman who takes care of Firmin, just said, “You’re good with children.” Oh.

 

At the end of the next class, the teacher explained that it was my last day.

Sebastian (not the “best” student, but you can tell he’s intelligent) : Oh my God!!

Teacher: See, Sebastian can speak English when he wants to.

 

It was raining as I was waiting for the bus. All the seats in the shelter were wet, so I stood in the corner. It hit me that I was done working, that a chapter of my life was closing. I teared up a little. The image is sort of poetic, really. Or maybe my days as an English major ruined my perspective on perfectly normal events.

 

 

Some lasting effects:

I saw a kid walking down the street about a month ago by herself on the way to the high school. When I got there, I told Maria, “That girl is walking out there all by herself.” Maria then teased me about how, because of my work, I worry about children. “She’s by herself, him, he’s cold- he should go get a jacket, oh, that one’s sick…” I’m not really sure it’s because of work, I think it’s more that we’re taught in the US that all sorts of bad things can and do happen to children when they’re alone. I think Tulle might be a little safer than a big city, and in all reality, the girl was probably right down the street from home.

 

Anytime I see a kid under the age of 12, I keep expecting to recognize them. I taught 3/4-ish of the children that passed through Tulle on a regular basis. Almost anytime I left my apartment I saw one of them. Even in Italy, I thought I recognized children several times. Then I remembered, not only am I done with my contract and in a different city, but these kids are in a different country speaking a different language.