September 1, 2016
Big big day here for us. First real day of French school. In my projections of our life in France, this day gave me very cold feet. And alas, Xavier and I drove away from the schools looking at each other wearing big smiles. Colette was A++ and Romy a superstar too (she had a bit of preparatory advantage).
Yesterday, I took Colette into Aix-en-Provence for a date. We roamed around, ate lunch, bought a backpack and watched a movie, Comme des Bêtes (The Secret Life of Pets). Colette shouted in the theater: "That's New York!" We ate popcorn and laughed a lot.
It was sweet to spend time together in the streets of Aix, stop at the market and sit and talk over lunch. I told her that she has a superpower that I (and all grownups) have lost. Magic words. One of her biggest fears about school is that she won't be able to say what she means - or anything at all. She understands French - Xavier has always spoken to her in French, but expressing herself in French is unknown territory. I told her that this magical power allows her brain to just be there - in the classroom - with the others and suddenly after a week or two weeks, the French words she means will just start flowing out of her mouth. Her eyes lit up. I told her that soon her français will feel just like when she speaks English. She hesitated and said, "but I don't want to lose my English magic words." I promised we would always use them together - that way they will stick.
A good breakfast and a quick picture and we were off. Both girls with their backpacks, doudous safely held inside. Colette was confident and a bit over excited. Romy was delighted to go see Colette's school, wearing her backpack proudly.
The names in Colette's class! A change from Harlem for sure: Aurélien, Mathéo, Clémence, Lilou, Lola, Gabin, Anselm. Very sweet. We walked in - gave her Maîtresse, Isabelle, a big bonjour/bisou and started to observe. Colette walked over to where a girl was sitting and playing at a table and sat next to her. She didn't come back to find us. We had to go over and ask her for a kiss at some point. She said, "I will see you later, at the end of the school day" matter-of-factly. Sacrée Colette. All of my fears for naught.