On Sunday, I went to Paris to go to church and then I went back to the house to play poker with the family and their neighbours. Afterwards, Catherine drove me to the new house and I got to meet the kids for the first time. Alice is five (turning six Christmas Eve) and she talks non-stop in rapid French; she has already chained herself to me. Antoine is four and he’s a lot quieter, and hardly speaks at all. When I first came, he refused to say hi or anything because apparently he doesn’t usually like people who come over. But within a day, I already won his admiration and the parents said he liked me, which is good..I passed the test! Or so I thought. He can love me right before he goes to bed but as soon as he wakes up or finishes school, I have to try to win him over all over again. The baby is now two and a half weeks old and she is still just as cute as when I first saw her. The parents are really great; they explain everything to me in French because they know that I want to improve my French so now I’ve gotten to the point where I’m usually thinking in two languages the entire day. And I don’t mean thinking in French just because I have to have a conversation; I mean when I’m just doing random things, I’ll catch myself thinking in French. Like the other day I was just playing a Sudoku game and I realized halfway through that I wasn’t even thinking in English. It’s so weird… The first night that I was there, the parents offered me wine and I said, “No, thanks,” “Oh, but you have to,” “Are you sure? It’s French wine!” “It’s a specialty!” And I still continued to refuse. But Emmanuel (the dad) said, “Oh, you’re just like our last au pair. At first, she wouldn’t have any wine at all and by the time she left, she was drinking a litre a day!” I guess you should all know just so you’re prepared. That night, I woke up at quarter to six by hearing a crying baby but it’s just something I’m going to have to get used to.
On Monday, I had class and afterwards, I spent two and half hours cleaning the house before picking up the kids from school and drawing pictures. On Tuesday, I got to feed Elsa; she is so adorable, I just wanted to keep holding her forever. I did laundry, changed the sheets on the beds and worked on my letter of motivation for living with the family (done in French and handwritten… I think I made up a few letters because my handwriting days finished the same time they started, in grade four, so I didn’t really remember some of the awkward letters). Wednesday was the longest day and probably will be the longest day every single week since the kids don’t have school. I played with Alice while Antoine and the mom were gone. So, I was making French fries (with an oil thing and everything) for lunch while entertaining Alice (aka playing Candyland), and looking after a crying baby all at the same time. Good thing I could multitask before coming here. I then fed Elsa, who threw up all over me but no biggie, and then I played with the kids after lunch and I literally had kids hanging off of me for half of the afternoon. By five, I was completely worn out and ready to go to bed. The kids are really trying to test their limits with me right now to see how far they can go and so far, I haven’t broke but I’ve been close. Hopefully it won’t happen for long. Anne (the mom) said she’s never seen Alice so excited before, so maybe it’ll wear-off soon.
On Thursday, it was a lot easier to get the kids up and ready for school. The best way to make a kid do something is to trick them into doing it so that’s exactly what I did… and we were ready for school with 20 minutes to spare! I was quite proud. That night, I had my first glass of wine… grossest thing I’ve ever had in my life. They insisted cause apparently it’s a holiday known around the world on the third Thursday of every November or something? Beaujolais Nouveau? But the type of wine is really disgusting so maybe that’s why I didn’t like it. On Friday, I started looking for the best Christmas songs to start listening to before going to school. We didn’t go to workshops cause it was grammar and instead, we went to the mall. I stocked up on my favourite Lindt chocolate balls (they didn’t have the dark ones!!! I had to settle with milk chocolate..). When I picked up the kids from school, Alice and I had to wrap a present for her friends’ birthday that was the next day and she sort of left me while we were doing it. So I ended up wrapping a present all by myself (I know you’re all surprised because I’ve pretty much never wrapped a present in my life since my idea of wrapping a present is putting it in a plastic bag from a random store and giving it to the recipient). While I was doing that, I looked behind me and the kids were looking through my purse that I left (closed) by the stairs to take up later. They found the chocolate and I was just freaking out but luckily, they found the gum too and they settled for the gum. So while I was hiding my purse, I come back and Antoine had started to open my wrapped presents! Oh my goodness, I am definitely not used to looking after younger children. I asked him to help me rewrap them and it turned out well. On Saturday, I looked after the kids in the morning and then we went to the market before lunch. I played with the kids until they went to a birthday party and then picked them up and played with them some more. I showed them how to cut up paper to make snowflakes and how to make one of those fortuneteller things that everyone has made in elementary school. That night, I had sardines for the first time and they weren’t even that bad. It’s crazy how many new animals I’ve tried in the past two months!
Sunday was my free day, yay! I took the fast train to Paris so I had quite a bit of time to spare. I stopped somewhere that ended up being closed but I’ll definitely be going next weekend so I won’t talk about it just yet. I ended up settling on Starbucks (for the first time in Paris). Now here, the prices at Starbucks are the same, if not cheaper, than every other café in Paris so for once, I didn’t have to feel guilty buying a drink there. Plus, all the Christmas music that was playing there made everything seem a lot more jolly. I then went to church and afterwards, it was snowing! Just for about ten minutes though.. I met two girls after church (one from the US and one from Australia) so we went out for lunch to a place called L’As du Falafel, which was on my “Go here!” list so it turned out well. Unfortunately, it was raining and the restaurant was just an outdoor stand so it was quite cold eating outside. We then went to an outdoor market while it was STILL raining, and by the end of it, I couldn’t feel my feet anymore. Never ever ever wear Converse sneakers on a rainy day, especially a cold rainy day. They get soaked and then freeze your feet. At midafternoon, I took a train back to Le Perray to visit the former family because this week, I received two emails from the kids asking me to come visit. I stayed for about an hour and then I went back to the house to have supper. Today, I had workshop at school and then I’ll have to pick up the kids for lunch. After lunch, I think I’ll go buy some food for the food hamper at church.
It’s crazy to think that yesterday, it was two and a half months since I left. Two and a half months without seeing anyone in person from back at home. It just seems so weird; most of the other au pairs have seen their parents or friends but me, nada. Well at least in two days, my mom will be here for the next two weeks. Yesterday was also my 1/4 done point, meaning I only have three more of this amount of time. This week, the play at the Barn Playhouse starts, which reminds me of when my family and I used to go when I was little. We’d have a buffet dinner first and then watch the Christmas play, and sometimes we would even get a ride on a horse-drawn carriage back to the parking lot. Not only that but this week, the Christmas exhibits at the WDM start as well! All my Christmas memories are helping me stay in the Christmas spirit, even though it’ll be a lot more different here. I hope everyone enjoys the rest of November! Love always
Crystal Ball – Keane