Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Sometimes I think about how different my experience of being an expat in France would be if.... I lived outside of the 16th, I lived in a suburb of Paris, I live in the countryside, if I wasn't an American (there is a bit of a fascination with us, as I'm sure the French find when the live in the US), and perhaps most of all if I wasn't a mother. But I am an American expat mother in the 16th, and it never ceases to amaze me what doors it opens.
Today when I picked my daughter up for lunch a mother of a classmate asked if she wanted to have lunch at their house. My daughter was very shy but eventually whispered 'yes' to my surprise -- on the condition that we walk home to get candy to bring to the girl's home.
My daughter has known this girl for three years. They were in half-day class together two years ago, were not in class together last year, but are again together this year.
Quick side story.. two years ago my daughter was invited to this girl's house for a birthday party. It was on a Spring Wednesday afternoon, so she was dropped off at the party after being at the Jardin D'Acclimatation for a couple of hours. She looked warm and winded. She was dressed in typical American jean cut off shorts and a cheerleader type shirt. She was cute enough for me (although I could have brought a brush for her hair). Boy did I receive a shock. The maid answers the door and there were only 8 kids all dressed in these beautiful princess or pirate costumes. My daughter didn't care, I'm sure. Later a French friend told me that people who live on that street are generally rich and that I should expect the parties to be formal (can you really say that about a party for three year olds??).
Anyway, when we arrive home today to choose the candy, my daughter informs me of the other condition. She will go for lunch at her friend's home and will stay without me, but I must pick her up to return her to school. I consider this a step toward her independence and agree to her condition. I drop her off for lunch and the mother says she'll bring the girls back to school. I tell her that my daughter has asked me to bring her back. The mother says, well.... we will be taking my chauffeured car back to the school. We will take you too.
I think I've taken a chauffeured car three times in my life.. twice for funerals and once for my wedding. When I return for my daughter an hour later, we all get into the car and get driven to the school ... approximately .3 miles away... less than a 5 minute walk. The fur-coated mother says to me, I know it seems strange to take the car, but I have to go somewhere else afterward (I notice the chauffeur came to pick up her daughter alone this afternoon.. it was cold out...).
Once at the school I open the door to get out of the car and notice that the chauffeur's hair is almost standing on end. He jumps out of the car to hold the door open for me (what were you thinking?? his eyes are saying). The mother and I bring our girls into the school. I tell her I need to talk to my son (who always refuses to have lunch with us... "what, and leave my friends??") as an excuse. I was worried they might offer to drive me home. Once was enough.
-- said Auntie M in Paris
# posted by Pat : 11:32 PM
# posted by Pat : 11:32 PM
# posted by BohemianMama : 1:26 AM
# posted by maryse : 2:34 AM
The people my son knows from school have been interesting and has opened many kinds of friendships/events that otherwise would not have happened - I guess this is that (in your case).
Terry in SF
# posted by Anonymous : 3:01 AM
# posted by RighteousBiche : 7:09 AM
# posted by Anonymous : 9:50 AM
# posted by Daniel : 11:20 AM
I've bookmarked your blog as an example of how things can be in an ideal world :-)
# posted by John M Evans : 2:29 PM
BH, I feel the same way -- with the exception that I would have liked to have dated a couple of guys along the way that paid for dinner instead of half/half... that never seemed to happen while I was in college or grad school.
Maryse, An armed boyguard? That might have flipped me out a bit at that age!
Terry, So does your son keep in touch with a lot of his French friends? I heard that the French are really great about keeping in touch with their friends.
# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 5:58 PM
Jason, Fitting 20 friends in a car might not be glamorous, but it certainly sounds like it could have been fun!
Daniel, Believe me, my head spins around with this stuff too.
John, Welcome to the blog. Thank you for the compliment.
Margie, It's not my world, but it is fun to get a glimpse.
# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 6:03 PM
But do not worry, she will be fine !!!
# posted by negrito : 6:12 PM