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Les Enfants Terribles!


What is this? A five year old could have drawn that! Yes, or perhaps a 31-year-old teacher desperately trying to get her students to do something other than play cars or send text messages. This was my attempt at drawing Paris (look, I even included the chambre de bonnes!) for the kids since we have exhausted New York. Drawing in the tiny windows of the Empire State Building gets laborious after the third floor, so we had to move on to a "less exotic" locale. Less exotic for them of course...

Can you believe that next week will be my two-month mark of working as an English teacher glorified nanny for my little French tater tots? I honestly didn't think I'd make it beyond a week, as I'm not exactly the biggest enthusiast of kids. My viewpoint has never been that they get the automatic cute pass just because they're young. No. Cute points are earned through good looks and behavior, witty remarks and compliments. I know, I'm terrible. I must say though, my kids are pretty damn cute and keep me wholly entertained.  I really have never laughed so much on the job before.

Here are some vignettes of a typical day for me as an ESL teacher in France:

My older kids have a fondness for disco (I blame France's worst radio station Nostalgie Radio for that) and while taking a break from my shitty educational music that has been labeled as "nulle", we were shaking our groove thing to a CD called "Go Funk Yourself: Volume 2" reminiscent of when I went to Pride in West Hollywood. During our choo-choo train dance that I actually bust out at adult parties, a heated argument ensued between two of my students. The crisis was that Thomas was insisting to the skeptical Louis that everyone in America says that it's raining men when it rains heavily. I'm pretty sure he was confusing the "it's raining cats and dogs expression", but I had to stop myself from correcting him, as it surely would need a follow-up explanation. There was no way that I was going to explain that The Pointer Sisters want to get absolutely soaking wet by beefcakes falling out of the sky. I may actually be doing him a disservice as I picture him ten years from now in New York saying to his boss "Holy smokes is it raining men outside, we're going to get soaked, better grab my umbrella!".

While my older kids have a thing for Studio 54, the musical selections for my little ones are a bit more curious. Not only do these baby hipsters know how to navigate my iPod, but they already recognize the musical genius that is LCD Soundsystem and The White Stripes. Every afternoon they request a "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" break where they vibrate around the room on their tippy toes screaming "my house! my house." It may not be the most appropriate song but I have been able to get them to incorporate their English much more than the insulting "red light green light" tunes that I'm supposed to force upon them. One mother told me that her 3-year-old asked her, "On va my house?" He did me proud, my little one.

Last week I had to give my first "time out," something that made me feel just terrible, as I ignored a wailing child in another room. I wanted to hug him but I know he'll never learn that hitting his teacher because his name was written in purple is unacceptable behavior. After two minutes, the room where little Franc was left to cool off became a little too quiet. I ignored my suspicions and foolishly believed that he was learning his lesson, and I planned to let him back in the group in three more minutes. It wasn't until I saw our art projects being passed under the door, ripped up into tiny pieces, some of the with red x's and red marker splashes resembling blood that I discovered that precious Franc was not seeing the error in his ways, he was pissed. Each piece that was passed through got an enraged "et Voilà!". In short he was saying, "Look here bitch, you want to play? Voilà, let's play." The look of absolute horror poured down the faces of my kids who saw red x's on their Santa Clauses' eyes and mouths and blood squirting out of their little Christmas trees. Within seconds, I had a bunch of 3-year-olds crying hysterically because Christmas was dead. Thank you Franc.

And for those of you who wanted to see me as a blonde, little Philippe has whipped up a portrait of me (that hangs proudly on my fridge!) in my blonde ambition days (and for good measure he threw in a tan). Incidentally, the dress is very Marc by Marc Jacobs. I may have a mini fashion designer on my hands. However, he might have been a bit too generous with my hips...and my cleavage for that matter. He's 4 years old. Vive la France.


33 comments:

  1. Oh Ella. When I saw on my Google Reader that you had a new post up right before lunch, I waited patiently for my lasagna to finish before I sat down for my computer dinner. ("TV Dinners" are very 90s. We're now onto Computer Dinners... and actually, I lie. It is really a Computer Lunch.) I have a few comments (some of which may reveal why I am not yet qualified to be a mother!) and here goes:

    1. THANK GOD the little ones are listening to LCD Soundsystem and White Stripes! There is indeed hope for France's musical pop culture! And perhaps hope for future expat girlfriends of French men, who will, sometime in the 2020's, no longer be forced to listen to Michael Jackson on repeat for eternity.

    2. What ended up happening to that little p****n de merde Franc?! I think I would have given him a good ol' fashioned Asian beating à la ma mère! (Or a good ol' fashioned Spanish beating au mon père, so there wasn't actually really that much variety in my childhood after all...) Btw, what would you say French parents' views are on smacking?

    3. Only in France would a 4-year-old draw his teacher as a hot-lookin' babe with Brigitte Bardot proportions and a Marc Jacobs outfit. Vive la France indeed!! I might even bring that thing back to school and ask him for his signature before school's out this year. :)

    BTW - and I promise you I am not a weird stalker - I must definitely meet you when I return to Paris!! I know you've probably got your hands full with teaching, the wedding, etc., but if I can steal you away for a coffee or a drink (once I finally get an apartment!), I'd love to meet you! :)

    x Milsters (who just finished her lasagna)

    (http://www.littlepiecesoflight.com/)

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    1. 1. Their parents are SUCH hipsters that it didn't surprise me that they wanted to listen to LCD and the White Stripes. Their parents were almost pleased that they've been picking up English this way.

      2. Franc is really sensitive so I didn't share this story with his family. I kept it between us under the condition that he was good all week. He kept to his end of the deal. His mother has hit him (a light spank) in front of me, so I didn't want a repeat performance.

      3. I LOVE your description of the drawing!!! SOOOO BB by way of MJ!!! SO right on. Is it me? Hell effing no! That's his St. Tropez wet dream! I was just used as the gateway between the two!

      Email me when you're in town. : )

      I hope you enjoyed your lasagna!

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  2. Aren't kids the best? hahahaha
    That Franc one would scare the sh*t out of me though...that's how psychos behave when they're little!
    I can't believe that drawing is by a 4 yr old, amazing! You can tell he sees you with good eyes and finds you beautiful, even if he would prefer you as a blonde.
    :)
    Sylvia S.

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    1. Franc will definitely be a handful when he's older but he's no a psycho. I'm convinced that he just looks for shock value. We shall see, eh?

      Aww, Little Philippe is so sweet. I do love my portrait and will keep it for a while. All of my kids drive me nuts in one way or another but I appreciate them all...even crazy Franc!

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  3. Come on! That can't be a the drawing of a four-year-old, especially not a boy!:)

    I'm so glad I don't teach kiddies anymore! And for my 40th birthday, my husband is giving me the big V: voyage? No. Vacation? No. Vasectomy? YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!:)))))

    My uterus is useless... and always will be:)

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    1. Yep, he drew it. I saw it with my own eyes. Talented little guy.

      Okay, we're definitely talking about your "gift" when you're in Paris. Many of the women in my family have had to remove their lady parts (all cancer related) and it isn't pleasant. J'ai peur.

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  4. Love the drawings your and Phillipes. Well I would hang on to that picture. If it is by a four year old he is very talented.

    Congratulations on surviving so long. Much as I love my nine grandchildren, I can't take them en mass,without help, so you do very well. I always admire people who work with children. then people always say "I couldn't do your job" to me, so each to his own.

    Have a good day.

    Love Denise.

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  5. i read this as i sit in an empty classroom on my break, a group of fifth graders waiting patiently for my arrival! italian kids are SO similar, and i feel you wholeheartedly! i have a bunch of bambini terribili but i totally have them figured out. bribes, my friend. bribes. :) they work!

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    1. Oooooh what kind of bribes?? I just threaten to tell "maman" and that whips them into shape every time.

      Oh man, you have 5th graders, 10 year olds are tough! I remember when I was 10! I was a pain in the ass...heck, I still am!

      I'd love to compare French and Italian little ones. Some of mine have hit on me, why do I feel like you've experienced this too with your little Italians?

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  6. ROFL, Franc sounds like such a charming little child... I'm afraid I'm with you, children are small, noisy, messmakers unless proved otherwise. I hope the other kids recover from the terrible trauma of Santa being bumped off so early in the year, but I'm sure it's some psychologically formative lesson ;o)

    Loving the pic of you though, perfect!

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    1. Isn't Franco just lovely? He actually is really entertaining and I like him a lot...he just has "his moments".

      "Children are small, noisy, messmakers unless proved otherwise." AHAHAHAHA you're worst than I am!!!!

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  7. Ha, poor kids! So sorry Franc ruined their art. It sounds like you've got your hands full!

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    1. Luckily the kids forgot about their art projects 5 minutes later. It's a lot of work but it's definitely more entertaining than working a fashion excel sheet!

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  8. Ella! This has to be one of my favorite of your posts!!! You had spitting out my Chai tea latte (that's right girly, insta chai tea latte from...Trader Joe's! Ooh, I am mean, I know I am)!! So much made me laugh but I will just point out two important things: 1) when you got this gig I do believe I said that your students would fall in love with you and clearly I was right (I especially love the hi-lo combo of combat boots with the Marc dress in the drawing) and 2) I hope with all of my heart that you are taking lengthy, daily notes, as in more than just for a blog because THIS is a book that would sell! I am serious!
    Gros bisous from your jet-lagged friend in Arles,
    Heather

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    1. Thank you so much Heather. I'm glad that you enjoyed the post. I had fun writing it. These guys really entertain me! I have so many drawings of "me" in a folder. They keep me in high supply, these guys. Every 10 minutes I get a "cadeau". It's so presh.

      Did you spit out your lovely, delicious, and smooth Trader Joe's insta-chai (lucky gal!!!!!) at Franc passing our destroyed art projects under the door? That kills everyone because it's so crazy. I had to cover my mouth with my scarf to hide my amusement from the other kids. Et voila!

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  9. LOVE the drawing of you! You after a trip to the Bahamas maybe? It was so nice to see you today and hear all these awesome stories in person. x

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    1. It's SO me this drawing! Can't you just see the resemblance!!? YES! It was so nice to see you too! I totally woofed down the kale pesto...please sell it so I can buy it in bulk. It was DELISH!

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  10. The cleavage details kills me!!!

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  11. Awesome! Your hair totally matches your dress, too. And three hearts? I think he is in love.

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    1. He smacked my ass last week (which made me feel really weird) so you might be on to something. I may have to watch out for this mini Casanova. Thanks for the head's up. : P

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  12. Hi Ella.. I am also very impressed with this 4 year old's drawing! 4??!!

    Even more so-- I love your impression of paris! It's a gorgeous piece and I love the little details on the apartments! (and of course, gotta' put some rain drops in there :P)

    Mad props to you for teaching the little 'uns for 2 straight months! I think it's one of those jobs that is like "You don't know if you can do it until you try" as little kids (and older) can be a challenge-- especially in a classroom with little Francs! Bravo and thanks for sharing the stories and drawings!

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    1. Yep, 4 years old. Can you believe it? He even made a jawline! What 4 year old thinks of that!? I still draw a perfect circle when I draw a head!

      These guys keep me entertained. When we play "cache cache", I don't feel like I'm working...I'm totally playing with them...I outsmart them from time to time. Can't help it. : )

      I'm glad you enjoyed the stories of my little beasts!

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  13. Hahaha. LOVE this. Oh and that drawing! Just 4 years old?! Incredible! Hope you are going well lovely!! :)

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    1. My kids keep me extremely entertained. I'm glad you saw the entertainment as well! Yeah, Philippe is good, isn't he? I spoke to his mom about art classes. I hope she follows through with it, he's on to something!

      Hi Emma!!!! xoxoxo!

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  14. I'm such a dork! Nevermind my previous comment about HHI, please delete. I had the wrong date. Should've checked your post before posting. Glad I did or would've missed it!
    Sorry :-(

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    1. It's Dec. 19th! We're not moving to Strasbourg. : )

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  15. I think your drawing is quite good actually, I'd hang it on my fridge :)

    So I guess I can blame Nostalgie Radio for my husband's love of 'the funk' and all of the finger pointing dancing I get to witness? Merci Nostalgie Radio, merci.

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    1. Does Gregory listen to Nostalgie Radio!?! Hahaha! Amazing. That station cracks me up! It's the ultimate finger pointing dance station! I'll take NR any day over Cherie FM. THAT ONE is the worst!!!

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  16. Whoa, Franc must have some hidden (or not so hidden) anger issues. What a little punk! Philippe's drawing is ADORABLE though...looks like that made up for it :) Great drawing for 4 years old, I'm impressed!

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    1. He really is so cute he just has a lot of rage when things don't go his way. He actually is one of my favorite students, despite last week's freak out!

      Philippe's drawing really is impressive. I hope to receive more!


      Hi Callie! I need to pop over to your blog to see how you are and what you've been up to!

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  17. Fantabs seeing you yesterday and hearing more stories "en directe". I had to run to get the train in the end but I made it! Thank you again for my cosy hat and knitted tube top! ;) Now that I've spent a couple of hours catching up on email/fb/blogs, it's time to start cooking and cleaning booooo for my partay yaaaaay! xx

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    1. Me too! It was so much fun! I'm glad that I got to sit next to the birthday girl! Oy, sorry I had you running to the train. I should have kept better track of time.

      Your party is happening NOW! ENJOY!!! And again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY (because everyone's 30th should last a week!) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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