So though I post pictures almost daily on facebook of the beautiful city we’re enjoying and it all looks like rainbows and sunshine, there are clearly challenges.
This second week at school was the start of our daughters’ real, serious and heartwrenching concerns about being in a new school with no good friends yet and struggling to understand the language which they thought they knew well but realize it’s much more challenging in an all French environment.
Tuesday became the struggle day – Geneva woke up early both stressed and in tears. She refused to go to school that day. Elena soldiered on but then I got a call from school within an hour that she was “mal au vent” (stomache ache) and I needed to pick her up.
Lots of emails to friends for support/questions plus family discussions – with my “Keep calm and carry on” attitude, I often am want to push through and keep trying. Marco being the more thoughtful and patient parent was apt to give more space, time and understanding for this big transition we’re putting them through.
Needless to say, we both expected these bumps in the road – a huge move like this will not come without its challenges and growing pains. Hard to see our girls struggle with this but we are working to reassure ourselves that they are strong too and this is not beyond them – that this experience will bring them so much, including the knowledge that they are resilient and can work through tough situations.
By weeks’ end, it seems we’re baby steps further. Each day gets a bit closer to making better friends and a clearer understanding of their new school reality. We are also pleased to see that Elena’s teacher is recognizing her struggles in adjusting and has offered to stay with her one-on-one on Thursdays just to have some down time to ensure she’s feeling adjusted and confident. Geneva’s wins in English class also help bolster her confidence – she got 100% on her Friday exam (I smiled and said “would expect this”).
Ok, onto the rainbows and sunshine. Highlights of the week include Geneva having a field trip to the original “eglise” of her school’s order namesake – Saint Dominique (of the Dominicans). She said the church was really pretty however was miffed that they had to drive over 2 hours, almost to the Spanish border – on a luxury coach bus, mind you – and was less taken by the fact the original building dates to the 1100s.
Elena had a good Friday play time with the older girls in her class – she’s in a split class – and has maybe found her bosom pals in France – they played fashion show at lunch recess and took turns fixing their hair in different styles then strutting their stuff. She says they’re more kind and seem more her interest ;)
They also both enjoy the “canteen” – cafeteria lunch with full course meals at midday. We’re in trouble on our return to Canada.
Marco is still enjoying the vacation time he has before he starts his Masters program in the first week of October. We took a lovely fall bike ride on the local bike rental bikes to his university on Friday. It’s about a half hour leisurely ride across the parks from our apartment to the Canal and then the bike/walk path runs all the way south along the Canal right to his university. Not a bad commute.
We had the excitement of our first visitor – my dear pen pal girlfriend Masako who is Japanese but living in Stockholm on a year contract this year. She just happened to want to get back to Toulouse for a visit and we happened to be here. As we’ve only met in person once before, when I first moved to Toronto for university and she was visiting Canada, this was a real thrill.
Also worked well as this weekend is Journee de Patrimonie which is a celebration of history/historic sites. Bit of a Doors Open type weekend where lots of museums, churches and places of interest are open for free with special programming on in many places. We’re taking full advantage. Free is good.
Similarly, I went to a noon-time concert on Thursday at the Ostal d’Occitania (centre for the traditional Occitan culture/language, original to the Toulouse area) to see an accopella performance of Claude Nougaro’s poetry in song. The man who performed had an amazing voice and presence and kept us entertained for over an hour and a half.
Heading into week four, we are lucky that we have lots of visitors on the horizon – looking forward to seeing our Irish/Spanish friends next weekend, then Jen will grace us for a week (yayy!) then hoping to see Marco’s brother and family for the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.
And my biggest concern right now… other than soon I have to figure out what I’m going to keep occupied with other than school delivery/pick up, market shopping and dinner prep – where do I get my hair cut. Missing my Analiese and walking past each Salon de Coiffure (and there are many!) to check out their prices posted on each door along with gut check on “does this look like a place who could do a good job?” I know, I know, if this is my biggest concern in life, I’m not doing too badly. But it is a stressor for me. Am meditating on it during my weekly yoga mornings as I look at the sun coming up stronger over the red tiled roofs.
Right - onto the lovely fall day that’s coming our way. September is a lovely month for so many reasons.
A la prochaine semaine,
p.s. update on the mayhem that ensues on school pick up… add to the frenzy last Wednesday when the kids all walked to Mass for some special something for Mary/Madonna (we’re still not quite sure the occasion) and they arrived 15 minutes later than expected. Many parents in a full on lather as schedule was not to time and no one at the door as we awaited seemed to know when/when the arrival could be expect. Quelle moment!