Before school on Monday Jed taped the following message to my water bottle, "Be brave, Mom. I love you!"
Eleanor Rooselvelt said, "Do one thing every day that scares you." Just one, Eleanor? Really? Jed and I must be overachievers this year! I am amazed at my little boy who goes to school where he still knows little of what is being said around him. My heart breaks in the morning as he walks through the school gates looking for a friendly face to stand beside in the courtyard until the bell rings. One thing that scares you? Jed starts his day following Eleanor's advice.
Then he enters a classroom where he listens to "blah, blah, blah" for eight hours and is expected to produce something from this gibberish. I think that he is incredibly brave, but he won't let me say that because it still makes him cry to hear those words. He can only be brave as long as we don't have to talk about his bravery.
As for my bravery, well, speaking French in front of native speakers is always a challenge, but speaking in front of middle schoolers is downright terrifying! They're a pretty tough audience. Nothing escapes their critical ear. If I mispronounce their names or give the wrong gender to a noun, their eager little hands shoot up, "Madame!, Ca se dit pas comme ça!" I am grateful to my 152 young teachers, but it is exhausting and humbling to be schooled by one's students. I thought that I spoke French pretty well until I came here and had to try to explain something to 12 and 13 year olds.
When I mess up, I tend to mess up big too. I have been imitating my students' pronunciation of "Oh my God" since I arrived. "Oh my Gode!," I say, and they all roll on the floor laughing. Thank goodness for my sweet neighbor, Bénédicte, who told me that a "gode" is something that one buys in a sex shop. Great! Much to my students' delight, I have been saying "Oh my dildo!" when they have not had their homework for the past five weeks. My, my, I still have lots to learn in this life!