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back to school.


 Image via my Instagram

I know we still have a few more weeks left of it, but for me, summer is officially over. My birthday which was on the 2nd arrived in all its glory, and with it now over means that the party is over...well, my party at least. 

With la rentrée in full swing here in Paris, I have to admit, I'm actually looking forward to this new year. Does anyone else feel like September is more of a fresh start than January 1st? Early January, I just feel depressed, cold, and bloated as I reluctantly take down signs of Christmas glee while detoxing my system of all the champagne and fois gras I had woofed down for the past two months. September feels like a true awakening where the weather is still gorgeous, everyone is adorning their summer glow with vacation tales to recount, and there is a feeling of motivation and productivity as perhaps we're all just a bit vacationed out. 

This year, the infamous no-school Wednesdays here in France are no more. The school system in Ile-de-France is now requiring students to attend a half-day of school reserving the afternoon for extra curricular activities. With this new schedule, naturally, there was a public outcry as students have always had Wednesdays off and as we know, the French don't love change. 

Last year I had networked with the parents that I had met outside of school and the after-school sports center and managed to create an intensive English study workshop facilitated by myself. Working with multiple families means multiple students whom I learned last week were going to be all teen-age boys. This will be the second year that I am working exclusively with garçons. Being the only girl in my family, growing up with four boy cousins and two brothers, I suppose this is one of the roles I have been preparing for most of my life.

Yesterday was our first session, or as I irritatingly labeled it: "The English Speaking Round Table." Yes, I totally made them say it. Like a few times. 

At first, they didn't realize that I speak as well as understand French, but I let them think they were pulling the wool over my eyes by whispering profanities to each other in French while I was organizing my notes and writing on the wipey board. It wasn't until one of the kids began to repeatedly say "double penetration" that I had to figure out a way to put an end to the bullshit.  

Double penetration? First of all, there goes my Google keywords for the blog (and they have been so clean lately). Second, ouch. And third, what about it? What did these kids know about double penetration, and why did he have to keep saying it? I resisted the overbearing urge I had to ask him if he even knew what he was talking about, but thought better in fear that he did and was going to provide an explanation. 

However, it couldn't go ignored as he continued to say it, grating on my every nerve. Having somewhat of a knowledge of young French boys, I do know that they are concerned with appearances and instead of being stern with him, I got all French with him. By simply nodding my head, scrunching my face up as if I was dismissing an ugly article of clothing, and saying that it wasn't beau when he said that, I got him to stop putting physically uncomfortable images in my head and continued on with the lesson. 

Before wrapping up the day and to redefine myself as a human, not a robot barking at them in English, I shared that it was recently my birthday. Immediately I was asked how many years I had. Knowing that 14 year old kids would think 32 is ancient (heck, 22 year olds do!) and wanting to avoid the look of horror that generally accompanies it, I told them that I wasn't going to disclose how many years I was and that I had a very nice time with my husband (which also inspired giggles)

With the incessant emphasis I placed on being an age and not having an age like we do in the romance languages, I reminded myself of a character in one of David Sedaris' essays: the one where he was placed in a speech therapy class when he was younger and his tutor pretty much sucked. Well, I'm that teacher in the story and by the way some of these kids were looking at me I see a story written about me in the future because damn, I'm annoying. I look forward to reading it, and if it's in English, I hope I will have done my job. 

It's good to be back. Something tells me this year is going to be even more interesting than the last.... 

28 comments:

  1. I'm also enjoying la rentrée and September is my favourite month of the year. I'm even looking forward to the cooler temperatures so I could snuggle up inside. I can't wait for fall walks outside with the leaves crunching under my feet.

    I have a couple of new projects up my sleeve as well so as soon as this glaring sunshine and unbearable hot weather goes, I can't wait to buckle down!

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    1. Same here! I could have written your first paragraph!:))) No season is more sensual than the fall!

      And I agree with you Lisa that la rentrée is a renaissance of sorts. There's a very special kind of energy in the air, especially in university towns:) Love it!

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    2. @Den Nation - Me too! I just love September (not just because of my birthday), it really is the time for a fresh start after vacation. Last week was our last heat wave (at least I think) and it's back to grey skies and cooler weather...'tis the life in Paris! Good luck with your projects and have fun!! Thanks for commenting. : )

      @Duchesse - Exactly! I think we all get sort of a September rush; excited for new projects, changes, cooler weather and autumn leaves. Today it's cold and pouring rain - vive la rentrée! : )

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  2. Happy "new" Year and bon rentree (if that's even an expression)

    A couple of the times I was in Paris were in September so I am sad this year not to be coming...it's the best month ..the weather was always great..you could wear sweaters and scarfs..love love love it.

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    1. Thank you Deb! Happy "new" year to you too!

      Hmm, I'm not sure if bon rentrée is an official expression but I sure have been saying it to everyone and haven't yet been corrected, so maybe?

      September really is lovely here. I'd say all of the "ber" months are quite nice. Looking forward to the next few months that make Paris so cozy! When do you think your next visit here will be? : )

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  3. So true, September always seems like the start of a fresh new year, a new you... "the first day of the rest of your life"

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    1. It is such a great time for renewal, you know? January is always so depressing whereas September feels more fresh. Happy Autumn to you!

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  4. "that's not very beau"...ahaha! my little italian boy students are like that too. with italians though, all you have to do is insinuate something about their mother, "you talk to your mother like that?" and they immediately stop. the mammas are saints to italian boys! bonne rentree!

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    1. Hahahaah I'm glad you liked my response...and I'm also glad that it worked!

      I love how you too found a way to work with your new culture in getting your "kids" to behave. We're smart cookies, aren't we? Little boys can be so fresh! I find myself shocked! I can ONLY imagine the things that come out of the mouths of your little ones! Italians are much more expressive than the French!

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  5. Happy (I hate that it is belated) Birthday, fellow Virgo!

    Those poor garçons have no clue what's in store for them this year, do they?! Insert evil laugh here.

    I am glad you are enjoying la rentrée. It sounds wonderful :)

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    1. Thank you so much for the birthday wishes! They aren't belated! I think everyone's birthday lasts a week, so you were right on time!

      Oh these little boys, sometimes I really do deserve what I get. I torture them in other ways; making them say corny things in English and then laughing to myself under my scarf.

      Thank you again for the birthday wishes! Happy Autumn to you!

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  6. Belated hiccy burpday!

    Hmm, I think I've spotted the new Frank already :oD

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    1. Thank you so much Katy! It was a lovely birthday week! ; )

      Oh this guy is going to challenge me this year, that's for sure. Do you know I still have Franck this year? Just in another group with the younger kids. He hasn't given me any gems yet but it's only been two days so you know I'll keep you posted! : )

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  7. I love the beginning of a fresh, new school year... with or without the profanities ;) though I must admit my young 20_something, tech-y coworkers have a similar sense of humor. It's a shame my French is getting really good, ha!

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    1. There really is so much promise and hope in September! Everyone is refreshed from much-needed time off and now it's back to the grind! I just love it.

      I'm sure your co-workers keep you extremely entertained. I love tech guys. My husband and his friends are all nerdy tech dudes that find the most juvenile things hilarious. Maybe this is why men tend to age better than women?

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  8. What a beautiful blog!

    I just fell in love with France (as you can see here: http://lasagnolove.blogspot.de/2013/09/ma-vie-en-france.html) and send greetings from Germany!

    Love,

    Bambi

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    1. Hi Bambi!

      Thank you so much for your kind comment and welcome aboard!
      Thank you sharing the link to your blog. What lovely photos you took on your trip to France! I look forward to reading up on your adventures (also, thank you for the English translations, my German is not very good! : ))

      Happy reading!

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  9. Right. How many years you are not how many you have. You tell them! xxx Good luck w/ that bunch! I can't wait for more stories.

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    1. I did tell them! I kept saying it too (of course I did)! Hehehe...I entertain myself.

      This year should be interesting, that's for sure.

      Thank you again for stopping by the picnic on Saturday!!

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  10. I too have always felt that the new year begins in September, I think that's a sign that a part of us is still in high school ;)
    And as far as that double penetration talk... color me speechless! Bonne chance!!! x

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    1. Omg, Sara Louise, he KEPT saying DP. Like over and over that I HAD to say something. Where on earth would he have learned that? So gross....

      Happy autumn to you! I look forward to your fall adventures, you always have lots of fun brewing!

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  11. You are so right about September feeling more like a fresh start than Jan 1! I am so over pretty much everything in January. As much as I have a hard time letting go of Summer, there is something about the crisp Fall air that I can't help but love:)

    Cheers!

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    1. Totally. January is so blah, plus we put these enormous expectations on ourselves that we feel overwhelmed by mid-month! I feel like we achieve more in September because we want to, not HAVE to.

      Enjoy autumn in the States! Have a pumpkin latte for me! Paris doesn't exactly market autumn like we do in America; that's something I really miss.

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  12. I also used to teach English to teen boys, but maybe yours won't cause you to flee the teaching profession like mine did! Actually, I had a large classroom, so perhaps your smaller group is better. It sounds like you're a freelance teacher. Is that correct?

    So, the weather is great in September... I keep thinking that I should not have moved my Paris trip to April when it rained the whole week. But, hey, that's what I get for being impatient. Next trip will be in September like I had originally planned.

    If you had three months only in Paris, which three months would you choose? I'm dreaming of a three-month stay, if my husband can somehow get that much time away.

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    1. Oh no! Yours made forced you to quit? What happened?? This will be my second year with all boys and while it's not my ideal job, it's better than not working and for the most part can be pretty entertaining. I am working more one and one in a small group setting so I catch everything and have their parents on speed dial. If they REALLY get out of hand, I just pull out my cell phone and they stop.

      Normally April is very nice in Paris but this past one, it was just awful! The weather pretty much was horrible until mid-June. I hope that we don't have a reprise of that in 2014. Come in September! Aside from rainy days like today, it's generally very nice out!

      A three month stay in Paris? Easy! September - December! Hands down! : )

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    2. There wasn't one thing in particular that happened that made me quit, unless you count having a major panic attack. Mostly, they wouldn't stop talking, showed up to class high, tried to sleep during class, stared at me like they were undressing me, stole my money, spit in my coffee mug, changed grades in my grade book, made veiled threats, etc. This is public school in rural bored America for you. One guy said he didn't know why I tried so hard. He just wanted to get out of school and work at the tub factory. I was 23. That was part of the problem. I had female students as well, but they weren't so much trouble.

      Thanks for the tip on best months to live in Paris. It's nice to know that April in Paris isn't always so bad! The wind with the rain was what made it so difficult. Plus, we got caught in some hail too! Even still, I loved it.

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  13. Madeleine,

    I went to Paris more than a dozen time and the only time it rained pretty much non-stop was the one time I went in late September! I got mostly gorgeous weather in all other seasons, ironically! So Paris is a gamble weather-wise! Always carry a scarf and an umbrella and plan indoor activities, cuz Paris is statistically rainier than London!

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    1. Thanks Duchesse. One tricky thing about the umbrella: those narrow sidewalks. I felt like people just hated me for having an umbrella because I could barely walk by anyone with one. Had to keep moving it so I wouldn't hit their heads, and it's a normal-sized umbrella. I guess that's just in certain areas though. I hope to visit London. Maybe I'll catch it rain-free!

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