September 20, 2008

Diminishing Returns

An Oscar tale

Our budding adolescent is in a balancing act I can only barely remember the flavor of. Not yet the man-child, he is between a boy who wants to be accompanied through life and an individual who wants to, at least, arrive alone. Pat and Oscar leave for school together most mornings and as is her role, she returns alone. The diminishing return is the duration to which they walk together.

First day….school yard
Second day….school gate
Third day…. within sight of school
Second week….buddies ring the bell and Oscar leaves with surrogates

There are mornings now where Oscar wakes up, gets dressed and is downstairs an hour before his parents. New behavior! (kinda cool!). He is striving for independence, but not all at once. Last month he put a DO NOT ENTER sign on his door, strangely in French, even though he was obviously talking to his American us. We tried to respect the sign, and him, and honor the right, but it wasn’t working, so I explained that we didn’t have the right to give such messages to each other, blah, blah, blah and that I would always knock, blah, blah, blah….but there wasn’t a room in our lives that was truly off limits to each other. Somehow that logic worked and we have moved on. We are very nervous that around each corner we are going to encounter a surly wild thing of an adolescent who roars his terrible roars and gnashes his terrible teeth so far he only rolls his terrible eyes, but the rest has gotta be out there. The tenderest moments are the moments before sleep and if I get up early enough to accompany the drowsy morning minutes, where sweetness trumps computer games and hugs are the currency of the realm.

What I do remember from age 10, is having a burning desire for a “best friend”. I remember Clyde, and Marco and then Jeff, Debbie, Tony, Denise, Tom and finally finding Pat. That need for a best friend runs very strong in our family. Oscar hasn’t owned it yet, but he is a very gregarious soul, very much in need of his relationships and very much wanting one to hang his coat upon, other than mum and dad, which is more like dropping your coat and knowing that they will pick it up before he does. I think it takes a huge amount of something (?) to be alone, some of us are better at it than others, like Oscar, I define myself through my relationships.

Parenting is such an unknown, if there had been Operating Instructions, I’m sure I would have left them in the box anyhow! The game of an only child is vastly different from the playing field both Pat and I grew up on. More of a balancing act of being there, but not too there, of being a team of three balanced with being a team of two (parents) with a goal of one. We are fortunate to have a balanced kid and the means to guide him.

Telling moments: when asked if he dreams in French or English, he responded that he didn’t know but that when he talks to his stuffed animal, he speaks in French. And now, while he wants some independence, he still walks past his bathroom in the middle of the night, across our room and finds the sleepy comfort of our cold tiled bathroom for a midnight pee.

He’s growing up fast…. still a puppy, but with big paws!
Posted by Picasa

September 2, 2008


Gross = 144 = Fat

Somehow I have always loved the idea of gross. It’s a funny number, it’s not ten, or 33.3, or even pi, its 144? A dozen dozen. And what’s a dozen? Why is there such a unit as twelve?It apparently comes from the French word for twelve, douze, and it seems it might have something to do with the number of lunar cycles per year, but mostly it’s a funny, if convenient, number, that has a grand part in our everyday lives. I recently had to explain to Oscar the concept of “a baker’s dozen” which makes so little sense in this land of boulangeries. Can you imagine growing up without doughnuts as an everyday part of your life!?

But I am off the point.

As magic as the number may be, the word gros, means fat in francaise, and I’m starting to notice some of it around here. It’s been a wonderful summer full of big meals and fois gras and even my doctor made the observation as he gave me a physical. I figure that it was an early call to action, but I have company. We spent a day at the town pool in the next town and I felt that the populace was putting it on! Fat French folks! This it seems is new, perhaps it was an ugly coincidence, perhaps it is too many crepes or not enough red wine, or more a reflection on Parisian tourists in the South of France?? Personally, I can eat more salads, but what will this culture, as a whole, be able to do? It’s a change, like so many, that indicate France going down the wrong path….next it’ll be the 35 hour work week! (oh wait, Sarkozy did away with that last month).

Someone famously spoke “let them eat cake” and see where it has gotten them!

Today was “rentree”, the word that means summer is over and it’s time to put the lawn furniture away and get back to work and school. All of France returned to the classroom today and for Oscar it was a milestone. He has entered sixieme, sixth grade in America, and it involves a new school on the other side of town. He will no longer have one teacher, but rather different teachers for each subject. He will have a class in English twice a week and Occitan, the language that preceded French in this part of France, and francaise, math, geo/history, plus a computer class and an art class.

He was nervous this morning, but came home a happy kid, which makes for happy parents.

Pat resumed her formal French studies today, and I continue to rebuild the front doors, beautiful walnut doors that had so much weather on the bottoms that I am changing out the wood on the lower fourth. Life returning to normal!?
Posted by Picasa