Friday, January 22, 2010

Field trip, shared spit and time slip….

Resized_HPIM4213 Last week I got a call from Zander’s teacher asking me to come, at the last minute, along on a field trip.  Of course I said yes and cancelled going to class for the afternoon.  The kids are always my top priority – and I love to feel needed.  I also figured being around a group of native French speakers would be a good chance to learn.  Also, she must have been pretty desperate if she called me!  I hadn’t a clue where we were headed, but I was in.

We headed downtown, taking a Ginko bus.  It was the teacher and I, along with 19 kids.  We were going to see a preview rehearsal of Peter and the Wolf performed and afterwards, we would get a chance to meet with the musicians.

We arrived a bit early and walked through the covered market. We then had to wait while another class met with the musicians.  As always I was impressed by the French lack of hygiene in certain arenas.  After the men played a bit and showed how to make a sound in their instruments (by the way, that French horn is NOT a French horn – but I can’t remember what he called it though, sorry) the kidsResized_HPIM4219 all got a turn to try to blow into the mouthpieces.  “Step right up kids, get your spitters ready so you can put your mouth on this thing – good job Jane!  Now, Jimmy, it’s your turn!” (Pretend that was French, including the names)  In the meantime, André and Resized_HPIM4218his co-workers still don’t give bisous as a company policy to avoid H1N1.  Again on the flip side, Callie told me that she and another couple kids got two cupcakes for her birthday.  You see, some kids didn’t like the chocolate cake part so, after they licked the frosting off, they handed them over to their friends!   YET, when we enter the building where Zander visits the autophonist and his councilor, there is a bottle of hand sanitizer on a small table before the entrance hallway encouraging everyone to get rid of those nasty germs before they come on in.  Cognitive dissonance, anyone else??

Finally we were allowed in the beautiful Protestant Temple (which I had seen from the outside but never entered before) to watch the music performed.  It was fun, and I was impressed by the age range of the students (although the performance itself wasn’t that great).  Then we went back to the room to learn more about the stringed instruments and watch the violinists play just for us (see video).  We took the bus back home and called it a day

Here are some photos and video….


All this sounds like it was great, right?  Well, it all was great except for the part where the teacher forgot to mention that we weren’t going to make it back to the school until around 5:15pm.  Or maybe (more likely) she told me or it was written down on the field trip sheet but I just forgot or didn’t understand. Normally, I pick up Callie and Griffin at 4:15 pm!  I had a bit of a panic attack when I looked at my watch and realized I was supposed to be picking up Griffin, in like, 5 minutes. Luckily, it was during a moment they were all involved in watching the violinists and I was able to slip out.

I called Augustin.  He couldn’t come early.  I called Lilou’s mom.  She didn’t pick up the phone.  I couldn’t call André for help since I had the one and only phone available to our family!  The only other number in the phone was Zander and Callie’s school.  I called them and explained the situation.  The directeur (principal) reassured me and said he would simply keep Callie in the garderie (after school program) and tell her that I would be late.  He also agreed to call Camus (that would be Griffin’s school) and tell them to take care of him.  In response to this largesse I said: “Oh!  Merci!  Tu est mon saviour!”  By this I meant to say he saved me, but I’m actually not sure if it meant that, or if it meant I thought he was Jesus Christ, or if it meant nothing at all that made sense.  Hopefully he heard the gratitude in my tone, at least.

For me, this entire exchange was stressful and hurried, but, at the same time, a major accomplishment.  Crisis averted, kids cared for and with no outside assistance from any native French speakers!  Go me!


Adeline said...

Wow that sounded interesting...and scary too. I'm sorry you've had some bad encounters with hygiene, but I can promise you it's not a French thing. I guess some people act like what you describe, but it's not the majority...or am I the exeption??? No, I doubt it! Seriously, what you describe is sick, and indeed, I don't really understand why, especially a teacher would pass on the French horn (by the way, it's called "cor d'harmonie", or more commonly "un cor")! And especially as you stress with the H1N1...
Anyways, I hope you had fun. Oh and about the director of the school, I don't think he took it the wrong way, although you might want to say "vous" to him. I'm also tempted to say "tu" to everyone and to call by first names at work, but sometimes it's taken the wrong way...French people, I'm telling you!!! Anyways, I hope you'll have some other great experiences like this one. Even if it's scary at first, it's what makes your stay in France intesting, and what you'll remember when you are back in the US. See u.

Alain said...

I agree with Adeline. All French are not like that, otherwise we would catch tons of diseases and our life expectancy would not be 3 to 4 years longer than in the US :-)

In the US, I am still shocked to see nurses and doctors in the street or in malls wearing their hospital attire. That, to me, is a real and dangerous lack of hygiene... How can you feel safe going to the hospital for a surgery when the nurse was having a break in the street with the same attire 5 minutes before?


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