Monday, January 11, 2010

Iris's Book

I'm going to give most of today's entry to the book that Iris wrote in school today. I often hear about people who are compelled to write, who feel ansy and off when they don't - and thus far, that has been Iris. If she doesn't get to write down something, she is completely cranky. It took us a while to figure that one out, because it seemed, well, unlikely. But it's been proven time and again: get paper and pen beneath her hands and the world sits right for her. Her teacher here tells us that Iris is incredibly focused and seems to really want to learn the language quickly - it sounds like she's deeply immersing herself into things here. Which might explain why she's writing more than ever - the stress, the intensity of this new experience. So here, forthwith, is the book she wrote today at school. I'm keeping all of the intuitive spelling because I find it charming, frankly. Do I need to tell you that there's no intuitive spelling in French (oooo, what a different experience learning the language it would be if French were phonetic!!!) - in fact, her teacher today said "I notice that she's still writing in block letters, is it ok if I teach her how to write in cursive?" I said yes, of course (I love how French handwriting looks, and I know that she'll love to learn it), but I'm stunned that they teach cursive in the Maternelle-Grande section (basically the equivalent of kindergarten). Wow. Ok - enough: Iris's Book.

Page 1. I am in Scholl - Ecole
ilushtratid with pikshurs [pictures] by Iris
Page 2. I am in scholl.
Page 3. Ther is scholl in France.
Page 4. Scholl is good. I like scholl. Scholl is long oltho it is good. A good school can starte a good day off. I do like my school.
Page 5. Our scholl is the same oltho we are sapratid [separated]. Oliver has to go awtside [outside] to git to our plase in the scholl.
Page 6. Our scholl has pikshurs. My scholl is luvlee. I love my scholl. Ecole.
Page 7. I alradee made a frad [friend]. Theys [this is] yey [why] I like it. My frad's name is Isabal [Isabelle, I think]. My frad is nice.
Page 8. That is my scholl. I LOVE IT!

How's that for amazing??? One of her favorite parts is stapling it all at the end - I'm so curious to know how she communicated that to the teacher. "My scholl is luvlee" - that is the coolest way to spell "lovely" - I've really grown to like intuitive spelling. It's luvlee. :-)

With everyone talking at once in the car on the way home, we were able to piece together their day. First of all, lunch sounded fabulous: Oliver said there was an "appetizer:" tomato slices or salad (!), then they had what sounds like steak frites: a thin piece of beef with a light brown (read, cream is involved) sauce and fabulous french fries and a hunk of baguette; and then your choice of a clementine or yogurt. Oliver and Iris both scored the yogurt that had eluded them last week and Oliver claimed it was "the perfect lunch." Meanwhile, Mac and I love our lunches of baguette, cheese, and soup - but man, what I wouldn't do for a steak frites preceded by an appetizer!

The other interesting thing about the way the kids talk about their days is how nonchalant (although that may not be the word or expression) they are about their emotions: "Yea," says Eleanor, "I cried when I had to leave the playground for nap. Iris did too, when Oliver had to go in." That breaks my heart, of course, but then I see how happy they are at the end of the day, and I have to think it's all some great scheme of things and they're dealing with it ok. I'm glad that they get to see each other on the playground (although Iris and Eleanor are in one with playground equipment, and Oliver's playground, devoid of play equipment, is separated from theirs by a gate - the thought of them playing with each other through the gate is both funny and poignant - my sweeties!). I love their dynamic when they're home, too - they're getting along beautifully. They are incredibly wound up, though, and tonight both Oliver and Eleanor had a hard time getting to sleep (Iris was out like a light). Tomorrow may be a wee bit tough in the morning, but Wednesday they can rest up. I love the wisdom of the 4-day school week with a break in between. Maybe it's not just my kids who are wound up at the end of the day and could use a break to recoup. We are much more of a momentum culture when it comes to education: go go go, do it as fast as you can. Here, I think because you have to choose your path so much sooner (you get put on a humanities or a sciences track in the early years of high school), you take your time in those first years - experiment, try things out, perhaps know thyself so you can commit? In any case, it feels very different and the kids have definitely registered that. I realize, too, it's not just the language that's new: it's the pace, and the expectations. Play, imagine things, get to know France.

Some of this is rubbing off on me and Mac, too. Well, more me. Marvelous, hard-working Mac is finishing up his book review, using it as his segue project to get into bigger writing. I'm still just reading, and letting my curiosity take me a little bit hither and yon. It's really delicious. I'll be working on this text from 1512 by Jean Thenaud (tutor to Louise de Savoie's son François, soon (1515) to be François Ier) which is his account of his travels to Egypt, Mount Sinai and Palestine (Jerusalem, where our dear friends just alighted on a winter term trip - hoorah!). Louise sent him on this journey and I want to figure out why. In reading the introduction to the edition, I'm following up on every question I have (hoorah for the internet). So it turns out that it was Louise who initiated the first embassy to Suleiman the Magnificent (Ottoman Empire) while she served as regent during François's captivity in Madrid in 1525. The embassy she sent never got to Istanbul (got lost in Bosnia - yikes!), but the second embassy made it and a Franco-Ottoman alliance was forged. It was to be the first formal Christian-Muslim political and military alliance (François needed it to fight the Hapsburgs, and Suleiman was interested in entering the European political (and military) theater). It just keeps on getting fascinating from there.

There's a documentary on "arte" (kind of a PBS equivalent run by France and Germany) which we can get on the web on Louise of Prussia - I think that she stood up to Napoleon in some way. Will find out!

Tomorrow, or soon, pictures of the butter here and of our house - as per e-mail requests! :-)


  1. OK, I just have to say Coucou, and Go, Louise!

  2. et, oui! I find much inspiration in Iris and her writing - and then to think of Thenaud writing up his travels as well - the least I can do is come up with something perceptive about Louise's images, eh? :-)