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babe in toyland.

 illustration by amy borrell.

First week back from winter break has been going fairly easy. I have to say, I was looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. As much as I enjoyed all of my free time and was really able to pummel through my infinite to-do list, by the end of the week I was ready to get back to work.

My students have all been in good spirits as well and get this, some of them were actually happy to see me. When I asked my three-year-olds how they spent their vacation they told me that they didn't remember anymore. What. How do they not remember? I think one went to Egypt. What, seen one pyramid seen 'em all? They certainly remember that time back in November when I mispronounced the word rue, yet skiing in the Alps? Nope, nothing to see here, move along?

So unlike real teachers in France, I do in fact work on Wednesdays. The program I'm involved in is customized for ambitious parents who want their children to get a head start on their English before officially taking it in school as a requirement. So my lessons take place after school and on Wednesdays when most French children are playing and doing their extracurricular activities. It's no wonder that some of them absolutely fucking hate me, especially the older ones who know that I'm encroaching on their limited Wii time. There's one student in particular, we'll call him Louis, who I'm convinced wants to see me dead. This child does not speak to me in English or in French, and barely acknowledges my presence. That's not fair actually, occasionally I'll get a grunt, but that's on a good day when he's feeling "expressive."

Picking up precious eight-year-old Louis from basketball at one of the city's sport centers for kids, I filled him in on the lesson we were going to learn later at his house: the exciting adventure of placing the adjective before the noun and all of the fun ways we were going to learn how to properly describe persons, places and/or things. Well, he had absolutely no response to this and asked if we could stop at the toy store that we were passing at that moment. 

Fine. Whatever. We went.


I know, I wasn't doing him any favors by accommodating him but if meant ten minutes less of forcing conversation, to the toy store we went. 

Not wanting to smother him in the store, and perhaps for my own selfish reasons I did what any normal 31-year-old woman would do and headed straight to the Barbie and Disney Princesses aisle. Clearly. Looking at all of the packaging promising all things pink, I was transported to my childhood where the difference between a good and bad day depended on a plastic doll and her outfits. Buying into the nostalgia, I actually caught myself looking at the price of one of the less Botoxed Barbies who was fashioned to look more vintage than her modern day bug-eyed counterpart. Buying one seemed like a good idea in theory, but after purchasing it I would then have this Barbie doll, which would be kind of weird since we already have a Jem doll in the house.

Just as I put Barbie back on the shelf with her other pals, the electricity in the store cut out. Why are there always freaking black outs when I'm with kids?!

We weren't in a quaint toy boutique where a large store front window would stream daylight through, no, we were in a Parisian Toys R' Us where it was just a warehouse outfitted by ten-foot tall aisles packed with merchandise. I couldn't see a thing. I shouted out for Louis who was in the adjacent Pixar aisle and heard only the sounds of other children crying and mothers frantically shuffling around this now cavity of a black hole.

With my arms reached out in front of me, I walked a few steps to find the toy shelf to use as a guide to try to get around the corner to Louis' aisle. I called for him again, this time louder and more my mother when she's annoyed. Still no response.

Finally store the associates came rushing down the aisles in this state of emergency with flashlights. The circumference of my surroundings was then illuminated by one of the stock boys and there was little Louie standing right behind me looking up at me, not speaking, just being totally creepy. I thought he was going to hiss and spin his head around Linda Blair style. Upon asking him why he didn't say anything when I was calling for him, he just looked at me and shrugged. Little punk.

Back out onto the street, Louis stopped, grabbed my hand and looked up at me. He was on the brink of actually speaking to me, like a complete sentence! In French or English, at this point, I didn't care. This was going to be ground-breaking, I remember thinking. Perhaps he felt that we bonded in the opaque toy store, that we overcame the darkness together, and this was the experience that would break down the wall that has been up since last October. He opened his mouth and at that moment, looking up at me with his big eyes asked me why I didn't buy him a toy.

Because you suck. But, yeah, that doesn't count.

30 comments:

  1. I don't even know what to say to this, save...can you fire Louis? That might need to happen.

    And hello, THIS is a story to trot out when folks are going on and on and ON about how perfect French kids are...
    xo,
    h

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    1. Or when parents try to convince you that their life is so much more meaningful and great than yours because THEY have children...;)

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    2. I could change families for sure, but the school year is almost over so I'm going to just tough it out until then. I DREAD Wednesdays because I'm with him half of the day. French kids are certainly not perfect, I have more than enough proof! I think there are like 5 books now boasting this.

      Duchesse - I'm dealing with this now. Babies are now trumping my wedding from girls who wanted to feel (EXTRA) special during their engagements. Suddenly weddings are small potatoes because they have children now. It's so annoying.

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    3. N'importe quoi!

      Some people will go to such ridiculous lengths to fluff out their feathers! It's sad.

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  2. You seem to have a curse when it comes to kids and power cuts!

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    1. I was thinking the same thing, Gwan!;) Great minds and all...;)

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    2. Yep, this is going on two times and they were both equally creepy. I've paid my power cut dues. I don't need to ever re-experience it! Gwan! I'm still so over the moon over your news! Congrats again!

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  3. little brat..LOL

    have a great weekend!

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    1. Thanks Deb! Is it warming up over in Canada yet? It's still quite chilly here in France. I hope you had a lovely weekend!

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  4. Hah. Louis is going to grow up to be such a cliche Parisian! What a charmer.

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    1. Totes! He has the indifferent shrug pretty much down. Geez...

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  5. Oh my! What a little brat. And you seriously do get into every strange situation there is to get into, don't you? Too funny!

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    1. Hahaha he really is a brat.

      My best friends tell me that I attract weird people (apparently weird kids too) and situations. I must invite them in somehow. Hmmm, food for thought. I'll tell you though, in LA, it was crazier!

      How are you Alyson? I like the new look and concept of your blog! It's never to late to start over. : )

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    2. I am well! Thanks:) I am pretty excited for my 30s. Never thought I would say that though haha

      I cannot believe how close you are to getting married!!! What an exciting time for y'all! Enjoy every (crazy) minute of it:)

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  6. Louis sounds tres charmant. :)

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    1. Oui...tres. What's annoying is that he's really cute. He's going to be a looker when he gets older.

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  7. I didn't buy you a toy, Louis, cuz you're a .... (fill in the blank with the "four-letter word" of your choice... And no, "nice" doesn't count;)))

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    1. Hahaha! He is certainly NOT nice, more like a little punk. Hopefully he won't grow up to be one of those tragic people who think being nice is a sign of weakness. There's nothing worse, you know?

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  8. Oh my god. This kid deserves a smack! I wish you could've left him in the dark. Literally AND figuratively.

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    1. Hahahah I really did want to leave him to teach him a lesson! While I would never do that, it's fun to think of HIM totally freaking out in the dark!

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  9. Mmm. I agree with the others
    . Pity the poor girl who gets him as a boyfriend.

    As the grandma of 5 seven/ eight year olds I can tell you, this is NOT normal behaviour. Love Denise

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    1. His poor future girlfriend (or boyfriend)! He is going to be such a pain in the ass!!!

      Thanks for not making me feel crazy and that there is something off with him. It's not normal for a kid to not speak to someone they see every Wednesday for over 6 months!

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  10. Mmm wierd! As a grandma of 5 seven/eight year old boys this is not normal behaviour!
    Pity the poor girl who gets him as a boyfriend. Love Denise

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  11. Has Louis heard the story about another Louis, namely Louis XVI? That oughta scare the shit out of the little shit. :-)

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    1. I would tell him the story but he doesn't listen to me in English OR in French. He can't be bothered with my silly words. It's degrading. I have only a few more months....

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  12. You could just have told him you were saving your money for the therapy sessions you were both going to need after a year of lessons together ;o)

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    1. Hahahah good one! I hope my Wednesday family next school year is different! I'm putting my request in next week to be transferred. Being with him is a waste of everyone's time. I can't teach a language class if my student doesn't speak!

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  13. The main thing I've taken from this (besides that kids can be creepy, but I already knew that) is that you have a Jem doll. As if I didn't like you enough already!

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