Thursday, May 12, 2011

Catch up. Remy-1


It's so easy to let a habit slide. Like I say "Oh, I should write every day", and then one day goes by, and I say "No problem. I'll write about x, y, and z when I write tomorrow" and then tomorrow comes and goes, and the next thing you know, a MONTH has gone by.

Sheesh. I need a desk job. One where I have a computer, and my supervisor goes on long smoke-breaks, so I can sneak onto this place, and write little entries, so when my early-onset Alzheimer's kicks in full-blown, I can just read this diary to find out things like what my kids names are, or what I did on Thursday.

Part of why I just shunned this place, I will admit, is that I got totally SPANKED by the French Exchange Chaperones, and I didn't know if I was more outraged, or embarrassed about it. That story will come later. Here's a bit of catching up:

As you may recall, Remy arrived on April 7th (a Thursday), and hit the ground running. I got as far as talking about the trip to Santa Cruz on Saturday before I lost my momentum.

On Sunday, after church, we took him to In-N-Out burgers for the first time (there would be THREE more trips. It was a big hit), and then took him to Google.

Technically, Google guests are not allowed to ride the Google-bikes, but on Sundays, there aren't as many security guards, and they can't catch us.

Of course, we had to visit Stanley...

And play with all the Android Operating System Mascots...

Remy was starting to speak a little bit more, and I will confess that we did pepper our conversation with little bits of French, just so we were sure that we were being understood. He still was looking pretty worn out by supper time, though, and bedtime was pretty early.

Monday and Tuesday were school days, and Skip had a virus attack his laptop (I have a slight feeling that it might have been a result of Remy visiting some French web site, but I'm not sure) He had to take his laptop completely apart, and re-install everything. It's the first time that we've had ANY virus on ANY of our computers in this house, and it was quite the surprise. Alas, it also attacked just as Skip was finishing off a very large research project that was due on Wednesday, so he basically was glued to the computer all of Monday night and Tuesday night.

Remy asked us if it would be possible for him to go onto Facebook to leave his mother a message. Of course, i thought, even though we were told that the exchange students were not supposed to be given access to computers, because they would just go to French web sites, and kind of undermine their English immersion experience. But because Skip was so pre-occupied with this big project, I thought it would be better than leaving Remy adrift. He went online, and I could see that he was active, as I passed by the computer. He had about 15 chat windows open. Oh well, I thought. Let him have a bit of fun.

A little bit later (on Tuesday), he asked if he could go for a walk. One of the other exchange students was staying with a girl that lives about half a mile from our house. I was a little bit worred (they're ALSO not supposed to be fraternizing with their classmates, because they'll speak French), but Skip was so busy, and I had stuff to do, and he'd already played with Nate and Kelly, so I sent him off on his way, hoping that he didn't get lost on the walk. I also hoped that he'd end up speaking English because the host would be there. He seemed perkier when he finally returned from his walk, and told us about all the wild animals they'd seen (they ended up walking out into the open space hiking area, and had seen 'les chevaux comme Bambi" - "Horses like Bambi" aka deer, 'et boucoup de lapins' - and lots of rabbits)

Wednesday was a kung fu day for Skip and Nate. But before that, I finally got Remy to agree to go shopping. He'd asked to go shopping when he first arrived, but for three days running, when I'd say "Today is a good day to shop", he'd say "Not now. Maybe later?"). So while Skip finished fiddling with his computer, Kelly and I took Remy to the Mall.

He mostly looked around, and just took in the sights, but we did have some success at Hollister.

Then, while Skip was in his class, I arranged for Remy to have a private lesson the following week, so he could get a bit of the Kung Fu experience, too. He seemed cool with that. While we were in the lesson, he asked if he could phone his chaperones. I assumed that they were required to check in occasionally, so I dialed up the chaperones, and handed over the phone. He walked out of the room, and was chatting away in French (too fast for me to parse what was being said, but he looked cheerful enough). A few minutes later, he handed the phone back to me "The chaperone would like to talk to you" he said.

Oh man.

"Mrs. Parker. We are VERY CONCERNED that Remy is not getting an American English immersion experience. His family has entrusted him to the care of this program so that he will experience English, NOT be sitting in front of a television or a computer. French children are NOT like American children. When they come home from school, they go outside to play. You need to be giving Remy more outside experiences, and not just making him sit in front of a computer. Do you have a bicycle that he could ride on? He needs to be outside..."

Um... say what?

I was totally blind-sided.

Did *NOT* see that one coming.

Of course, I was unprepared for a rebuttal, and didn't have the wherewithal to defend my position. Instead, I nearly started to cry. We'd been busting our butts doing way more than we would normally do, and it felt like whatever we had ALREADY given him was being tossed aside. The thing that totally chapped my hide was that he had ASKED if he could go on the computer, and we had ALLOWED it (to be fair, I kind of knew I was doing a 'forbidden thing', but when I went onto Facebook, I could see DEFINITELY that all the other French kids in the program were updating their statuses about a dozen times a day, so it wasn't just ME that was breaking the rule). And then she started talking about how Skip wasn't spending enough time with Remy. Good grief! Skip was nearly at his wit's end because of all the time that he *DID* have to spend with Remy. He really, really, REALLY likes his alone time, and having to host him around at school all day, and then (heaven FORBID!) talk to classmates, and introduce him around? It was Killing Skip. He just needed some alone time, not to mention the fact that he has homework every day, so I finally said "I'm sorry that Remy's host isn't being social, but you need to realize that this is WAY outside of his comfort zone, and he's had to take care of some work that MUST be done on the computer, and we have done what we can as the remainder of the family, to entertain Remy. We will cut off his access to the computer, but please know that we are filling his days, and he is falling into bed completely exhausted by 8 o'clock every night. I don't know how much more immersion we can give him."

That was tense.

But Remy seemed oblivious to what had just gone on. In retrospect, I wonder if he just was reporting on what he'd done, and he let slip that he'd gone for a walk by himself to find his classmate, and that we'd given him access to the internet, without explaining that he had BEGGED us for that access. Hmm.

Oh well, bumps in the road. Bumps in the road.

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