Whoa! It’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down to write to you. Not since the beginning of summer.
I never told you how the classe de mer turned out. Son, you had an amazing time. I can still remember the proud, smiling look on your face on the Friday evening as you and your class walked down the street from the bus to the front of the school where all the parents were waiting. You were so proud, you had a wonderful time, you became more independent, you were proud of going even though it scared you a bit. And you have not stopped talking about it for six months. You tell us how you would love to go back one day.
You did many things. You stayed in the colonie de vacances where you guys had lots of different activities everyday. You had to sleep on the bottom bunk because you were not yet six and the law says that children under age six are not allowed to sleep on the top bunk. You shared your room with three other boys.
You took walks on the beach, collected crabs and shells from the tidepools for your classroom aquarium.
Painted your faces with clay from the cliffs.
Took a day trip to the Ocearium du Croisic and had a picnic on the port.
Built a huge “mur de chine” out of sand.
The cantine at the colonie served you a seafood platter. You also had crepes, fish, frites.
Played outside on the swing set.
It was really a wonderful experience for you and a bonding experience for your classmates and the maitresse, who we still see from time to time because she does etude at the primary school now.
I remember the day after you got back, I had signed you up for a Lego workshop. I took you there by myself, and I could see how you’d gotten bigger, more confident. I am very glad you had a good time.
And then we had a busy summer, and then Son, you started CP at the local primary school. You were so excited about starting CP that during the final weeks of summer, you slept with your brand new Tann’s cartable. I bought you a few books about starting CP.
On the first day of school, you just ran into your new class with your new maître, and waved happily from the window. It has gone well so far, you’ve had a couple of field trips that I’ve accompanied on, one to the forest of Montmorency, and one for apple picking. You also go to the pool every Friday.
The teacher told me that you are doing well, and that you have a good standing with your classmates. I’m glad to hear this and I hope it continues. Son, to be honest with you, I was a very shy kid, and I found primary school to be very challenging, to say the least. I was bullied in the last year and it was a painful experience, and I have to be very mindful of not passing on those painful insinuations that I have. The truth is that I have a far better outlook on learning now, having gone through university, and that is what I encourage your to focus on.
I also have to be mindful that you and your sister are not me, and are different, and will experience the world in a different way than me.
In CP at age six, in France kids learn to read. You have ten minutes or so of homework every evening that so far is going well. I am happy about the decision to send you to the local public French school. There is a lot of pressure from the Anglophone community to do bilingual schools and private schools, but I have faith in Education Nationale, even while people in the US have lost faith in public schools, and it’s so nice to have school be a two minute walk away, to know classmates in the neighborhood, to go to the local park and see friends after school.
Daughter, you are in your second year of maternelle! Moyenne Section, the equivalent of Pre-K. You never complain about going to school. You have learned to write your name although you are still a bit hesitant on the “Z”. I try to pick you both up for lunch once a week, although Son asks more and more to eat lunch at school with his friends. It shows how fleeting this time is, when kids want to be with their parents, so I will do this as long you would like to.
Daughter, you have a maître this year, which is funny for maternelle. In fact, both you and Son have maîtres. I think it’s a nice change. I think maternelle is quite packed for you but you never say you don’t want to go to school, so I think you enjoy it. You are still very into Elsa, and in a very girly phase right now of barrettes (which you don’t keep on, you just play with in school) and dresses and tights. I hope you find a balance and enjoy school.
Of course, you are only four, so you still have time!
We had a little birthday celebration for you a few weeks ago. Very simple, we just invited three school friends over to play, and we baked a chocolate yogurt cake. You also had cake at school.
Life is busier than ever this year. Son, you are back at the orthophoniste this year, we found a bilingual French-American one. I hope this will encourage you to speak more English. You also have swimming, music, and sports on Saturday mornings. Daughter, you are doing dance again, and swimming as well. I try to go to the park after school once or twice a week.
Yes, life is very busy and school is certainly intense for you Son. There is a lot of talk about how kids are doing more in school than earlier generations.
To that end, I see how much we need a break. During the Toussaint vacation last week, our neighbor invited us to spend a week with them down in the region of Les Landes. We stayed in an old farmhouse that belonged to an 18th century manor. It was renovated a few years ago. The house was entirely heated by wood burning stove, which needed to be filled up every few hours. It was amazing to be alone in the middle of the woods, with a huge expanse of space for you all to run and explore. We explored the region a bit as well.
I find both of you to be extremely adorable at this moment. Daughter, you are so sweet, cuddly and smiley, and you are prone at the moment to suddenly exclaim “I love you!” several times a day. It is so, so sweet! I wish I could take a mental photo of you at this age. In the house where we stayed, there was a dog and you just loved sitting next to the dog and talking to him. When he would jump on you, you would have a huge belly laugh.
I wish I could bottle up four year olds’ belly laughs. I believe they are fairy dust.
And Son, well, six year olds are so delightful. The stories you come up with! Talking with wonder about your day and all the things you are doing at school. Talking about school friends. You lost your two front teeth at the beginning of September and so you have that wonderful gappy mischievous grin that first graders have.
You two make your mama’s heart happy.