As usual, I spent the week finding all kinds of things to write about and now that I'm sitting down in front of the computer, I'm drawing a blank. I mean, I started this blog to let you all know about the frustrations and rewards of being an expat in France, but the blog has become, well, an on-line version of The Joelie Show. I can't say that that will not continue because, frankly, it's good for me to have a place to vent. Thanks for indulging me.
However, because I promised to do so, I'll talk about the kids now and through them, expose a little of the Franciness.
So, Ryan is reading. In French. At first, I was appalled to find out that the school doesn't teach them the alphabet. They don't. There's a book. Every few pages, there's a two or three sentence paragraph about this girl named Justine. the children are taught to memorize these sentences so that they can eventually recognize full words. That makes them feel like they are reading, I guess. Problem is... Wait, have I already talked about all this before? I feel like I have. ANYWAY, the problem is, teaching them this way doesn't give them the tools they need to read on their own. So, in the mean time, I've been teaching Ryan his alphabet, the sounds that go with the letters in French, the syllables that make up French words and I've made flash cards to go along with all of this. Ryan might hate me when it's all said and done, but at least he's reading and will be able to apply what I'm teaching him to learning to read in English (which I decided to put off until he had established a good reading foundation in French... I'll probably work on it more after the beginning of the year).
I don't know what to do about Ryan's craziness. He's crazy. I mean that he's bonkers. The kid can't act normal. "Normal." He is the sweetest, most sensitive, funny, happy, smart kid I know, but at the same time, the most inappropriate, hard-headed, whiny and annoying one. Okay, not the MOST whiny and annoying but he runs a close second. There are moments he will sit in the library and "read" book after book. He'll also play quietly, building airplanes and buildings and cars out of his Legos. He'll sit at his desk and draw these great pictures of construction sites, rockets flying to space, volcanoes erupting, scenes with green trees and sunny skies with puffy clouds in them. He's a really cool kid and I'm proud to be his mom and to have the privilege to know him. I moon over him while he's sleeping. He's so peaceful and gorgeous and little and soft and beautiful with his long black lashes on his cheeks. He giggles in his sleep and is probably the snuggliest child I've ever met. He wakes up with a smile on his face.
But, the few things I'm a stickler about, he can't seem to manage to rein in. Like, the whole table thing. I've said over and over that the table is the only place that I want the kids to act "appropriately" I want them to sit AT LEAST facing their plate (we'll tackle where the gangly appendages are supposed to stay at a later date). I want them to finish the meager helpings I put on their plate, finish their half-glass of water (and we're talking about a 1/4 cup of water), NOT talk with their mouths full, NOT play with their silverware, NOT stand up in the chair, NOT make ridiculous noises... you know? I just want table time to be a time we come together to be somewhat civilized. And I think teaching my kids this is giving them a great gift, even if they don't see it as one right now.
Ryan understands and obeys most of the rules. He eats pretty well and always finishes. He almost always agrees to at least try one bite of whatever is on his plate. But I can't get that kid to stop masturbating at the table. I understand wanting to combine two pleasures--eating and well, you know--but it's just not something I want him thinking is okay to do. I mean, in spite of the rule "The only places you're allowed to play with your penis is 1)in your OWN bed or 2) in the bathroom" I find him gearshifting on the couch while watching TV, in my bed when he wakes up in the morning, and as I mentioned, while eating. I don't want him to get a complex, so I tell him over and over that I KNOW it feels good and I don't have a problem with him doing it. Everyone plays with their private parts. But I ask him, "Do you see me or Papa playing with our parts while we're cooking? Driving? Doing laundry?... NO, you don't SEE us playing with our parts, because playing with one's parts is PRIVATE, only to be done when one is ALONE."
Lily's big problem is that she likes to stare out the window. I'm sure you've seen our view. It's gorgeous. The ancient Roman hillside, the old buildings mixed with the modern, the lush green (and now autumn-y) trees, the river below. It's beautiful, I'm the first to concur, but her staring is making us late for everything. She takes FOREVER to eat. The problem is that I usually end up getting sick of waiting for her and I end up feeding her! So, when I'm not sitting next to her, she doesn't eat (I also think this has something to do with not getting to be "the baby" for very long before Lolo came along). They've even said that they have a problem getting her to eat while she's at school. It's not the food. When she's hungry and NOT staring out the window, she eats like a champ and all by herself. But she's just sorta... lazy, I guess. I hate it, but i think that I'm going to have to stop feeding her and just freakin' usher her away from the table when it's time to get ready, whether or not she's finished. Sux, but that may be the only way to teach her to eat.
Lolo likes to stand or get down. She HATES sitting on her chair. I don't mind her being on her knees so she can reach her food, but the standing or the constant getting down and running around the table is a problem. The problem... is Sam. He either doesn't enforce the rules at all, or he just yells at her with a mean face. She doesn't believe him or just isn't scared of it. It makes for a cacophonous and miserable eating experience for the rest of us. The GOOD thing about Lolo's table habits is that she has a nearly insatiable appetite. And she LOVES "French" food. She's a big bread eater. Cheese (even the stinkiest... she keeps saying "encore!"). Yogurt. She just keeps on eating.
Even if I feel like every meal is "school" around here, it seems to pay off, for the most part. Whenever we go to other people's houses to eat, they seem relatively well-behaved at the table. Always asking if they can be excused. Always oohing and ahhing over the food. Always finishing their plates and drinking their waters. That makes me happy and proud and it seems to impress the French (and I admit, I sorta care).
Okay, look, all the above paragraphs seem very blah to me. WHO CARES? Why am I even WRITING about it? *eye roll* I don't even know. I'd love to write about all the quirky things I see on the way to and from the kids' school, about interesting exchanges with teachers, vendors at the bakery, cashiers at the grocery store... and I do have things to say... they're all just trapped in my head right now.
Here's the deal. *sigh* I wasn't going to say anything because I don't wanna have to write the dreaded retraction later, but I can't keep babbling on like this, letting you think I'm in my right mind when really, fairly, I'm not.
I'm pregnant. There you go. I'm a few weeks pregnant, I'm ecstatically excited (even if I didn't get down to a size 7 before it happened... um... not even a size 14 *cringe*). I'd be lying if I said I was scared because I'm not. I feel pretty pregnant and I don't feel imminent doom like I did from the beginning last time. I would have told you the DAY I found out (October 6) but, I wanted to spare YOU the possibility of having to read another one of those posts where a few days or weeks later, I tell you I've miscarried. And then you'd have to feel all sad and uncomfortable and whatnot. Blah blah blah. Truth is, now that almost a week has passed, I'm not really afraid of miscarrying. Go figure. I feel pretty secure about this pregnancy. However, if I DO end up miscarrying, PLEASE don't feel like you have to do the pity stuff. I'll just tell you and we'll move on, okay?
On that note, I'm gonna go get lunch ready. I'll TRY to pop back in here when I actually have something INTERESTING to say.