Thursday, April 07, 2011

It's how the French do things...

Well, our lovely French student is getting ready for bed. It's nearly 6am tomorrow, his time. I think he has performed admirably, for being completely turned around on time, and experiencing culture shock (not to mention the stress of having two uncontrollably-giggly girls sitting in the van behind him, making even ME uncomfortable.)

Aside... I am beginning to realize why I don't write much these days. I just get uneasy when I read blogs of these folks who do a zillion and seventy things, and then give themselves praise by doing the "Humble Brag" (thank you, NCIS:LA for finally putting a name to that in my brain). And when I've sat down to write something, I think "If I write this, does it sound like the humble brag?" and it usually does. I don't come here to write about the bird poo that's piling up on the floor under Jewel's cage, or the fact that we could film an episode of Hoarders in my garage... I'm coming here to document one of those "I can't believe I did ALL THIS in one day!" sorts of things. Ick. I wouldn't want to read me.

But here's my new year's resolution (again). I'll just write. And maybe I might drop in the humble brag or two, but it'll be tempered by the photo of my kid picking his nose, or something.

So, anyways... our Exchange Student.

Today was one of those days that you hope will work like clockwork.

Skip is writing exams at high school. Exams ended shortly after noon. Kelly had an in-school concert for a local old folks' home. Nate's class was due to do the Math Games with me at 1030, I had ice cream to sell at lunch, then get Kelly, swing by and get Nate, grab Skip, and then Remy arrived on the 1250 flight from Paris.

Except that I got a call last night from the choral director at Middle School "Are you going to be at the in-school concert for our elderly guests tomorrow? Would you be available to play piano for the choir? Um, and we'd like to sing this one song that we've never sung all the way through, is that OK?" So while I was laundering what felt like every last piece of clothing (and bedding) in the house, I was going over American Folk Tunes. And re-arranging my schedule.

So this morning looked a bit more like this: Take Nate and Kelly to the corner half-way between their schools and dump them out of the car. Race back to the house to do one last load of laundry. Vacuum the hall (again - just in case my extensive collection of vintage dust triggered an asthma attack). Run the dishwasher. Clean the sink. Wash the counters (because 14 year old French boys (with jet lag) will care if there is a sticky film on a corner of an unseen counter?) Play several rounds of Feevo on Facebook (I am weak!). Gather up camera gear. Run (late) to my Moms in Touch meeting. Leave meeting early, so I can get to the Middle School. Help elderly folks find their seats at the school during the instrument warm-up session. During the orchestra portion of the concert, have a panic attack, and run off to the choir room to go over the song ten more times. Come back to the concert to see Kelly setting up the piccolo. She'll have a solo. Photograph the concert. Watch as the choir comes in. Make eye contact with the choral director, who now has that hunted look when he finally says "They took a vote. They won't sing the song you practiced". He thought I would be upset? I was happy. There were 8 bars that i was absolutely dreading. After Kelly's portion of the concert, I felt the walls starting to close in, and I thought "Screw it! I'm not cutting things close. I'm going home!" and I pulled Kelly early (she was thrilled), and we went home so I could charge my camera battery (down to 5% charge? That would never last through the airport!). I flipped the laundry while Kelly cleaned up her bathroom. We put away laundry, and had a snack, and then we went to get Nate from his school. I totally blew off selling ice cream at Middle School, and suddenly I was free! We even had enough time to pick up some groceries at the little market near the high school while we were waiting for Skip.

Then, yippee skippy! We were off to the airport. I'd found out that the flight from Paris was delayed a bit, so we weren't even feeling rushed.

Of course, once we got to the airport, the kids started getting restless. "Is he here yet? Is he here yet? Where is Remy? Why isn't he here yet?"


(camera phone, so I could email Remy's mother to let her know we were at the airport)

And then, barely a half hour later (but that would be six hours later in 'Is he here yet?' years, I suppose) we saw him on the closed-circuit TV. Those shots are on the camera, still, but I do have the next photo that I sent to Remy's mother with the title "Now we will go play!"

A funny story, and then I must go:

Remy comes out of the secured area, and Skip is holding up the sign. You can tell that Remy is relieved to see us, and he bee-lines for us. I try to make him feel welcome, so I do the motherly thing, and give him a big hug, and do the very French kiss-on-both-cheeks thing.

Then I introduce the kids. "This is Skip..." and the boys shake hands. "This is Nate..." and Remy shakes Nate's hand. "This is Kelly..." and Kelly holds out her hand to shake it, and Remy moves in and does the Very French kiss-on-both-cheeks thing.

I wish I'd had the presence of mind to snap a few photos, because her face was PRICELESS! She was totally not expecting it, and she just froze. And then she looked at me in horror. As Skip and Remy went off towards the parkade, she said "Did you KNOW that would happen?????" And I nodded. "It's French, honey. That's how they greet people".

"But mom~! If you'd KNOWN... YOU SHOULD HAVE WARNED ME!"

Priceless, I say.

Now I'm going to get all the photos off of my camera, and put together a "First Day in California" album for Remy's mom.

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