Friday, January 22, 2010


Friday is the day for "motricité," at Iris and Eleanor's École Maternelle! "Motricité," which I am translating as "motricity," which is actually a word, indicates work with what we'd more commonly call "motor skills." Being sorely lacking in those to this day (ask the kids about my daily struggles to simultaneously avoid dog poop and stay on narrow sidewalks) I am really impressed by this emphasis in the curriculum. How fantastic is that obstacle course? Both girls get to do it at different times of day, and they clearly love talking about it afterwards. I would think that walking on those blue strips that go through loops would be quite the challenge! Do you actually get to rock on that green rocking thing? There is so much to love about French school!

Today was a quiet day of small triumphs: we secured the children's "assurance scolaire" - scholary assurance ("In case your scholarly book doesn't sell?" I thought at first) is for school-age children and is completely new to us. There's absolutely no such thing in the States. The idea was formalized about 80 years ago (at least in the company we're working with - I asked) to protect a child's educational experience. The website is incredibly complete and makes you want to insure everything! I spoke for a good long time with a woman from the company and she went through everything that the policy covers (of course in doing so, she enumerated all of the things that could happen to a child on his or her way to or from school, in school, getting ready for school, studying for school - it was all I could do not to rush to school, grab the kids and go hide under the sofa with them!) (yikes!). And it really does cover everything that might interfere with a child's education: down to damage to musical instruments! Eyeglasses broken? that interferes with your education: fixed. tooth cracked? fixed. there are two other interesting categories, aside from the enormous "you get hurt at school, or on your way to and from school or during a field trip" category: one is in the instance that your child hurts someone else, even by accident (yikes!); and the other is sports. I pause on this, because I think of how reasonable sports are here (well, I'm not necessarily talking about soccer, but even there) - there are clubs that practice on Wednesdays and games on week-ends - and still the kids are insured! I think of how many sports American kids play, how many of my college-age students hobble around on crutches from new injuries that revisit high school injuries. Medical insurance is supposed to take care of that and of course, we know that not everybody carries medical insurance in the States - our students undoubtedly do, the great majority of them, but I think of all the high school athletes who could use this kind of totally affordable insurance that would cover the time and effort and any injury they suffer at the hands of their high school sport. To cover one child for the whole year (and we went with the Cadillac model) costs $50. Fifty dollars. That's all. And there is no deductible: the insurance kicks in from the first Euro you're charged. It's astounding.

Small triumph #2 was confirming that we have an up and running French bank account. Yipee! Now, we can whip out our French bank card at restaurants and it can be slid through the little machine they carry around!!! Can't do it with American cards because they don't have the cool "puce" (which, yes, means "lice" or, figuratively I guess means "tiny computer chip at the end of your bank card"). But only one card for the two of us, we were told. We looked puzzled and the bank lady said "Well, you're always together anyway." Not sure why, but that totally cracked me up.

I end tonight with a shot of Iris and Eleanor on what Iris and I have come to call her Thinking Bench. It's where we think up her drawing of the day and the story she can weave in and out of it all day to tell us about that afternoon. Then we put kisses in each other's pockets for later, do hugs and she literally goes skipping off into the room (can't say the same for Eleanor (wow, look at her bedhead!) - it's wailing every morning, but by the time we're in the parking lot peeking through to her window, she's busy at something - sigh). Today's drawing was the end of the week's medievalalia series that started with the castle and the joust. It was a medieval banquet and it was awesome - I started naming the people in French (la reine, le roi, la princesse, le chevalier) and it was only when I got to "le guignol," a word she didn't know that she said "Hey, you were speaking in French." Voilà for now!

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