We’re in Paris. At last! After all these months of planning and hoping, all the excitement, we’re here! Of course, things aren’t going quite to plan. I put my back out en route so our ability to sightsee is dramatically reduced with two small children. I can’t push Petra in a stroller and she’s a bit young to walk far (especially coming from Bahrain where hardly anyone walks anywhere) and I can’t carry anything – which is a problem since I’d like to have at least a camera, phone, money, a raincoat for each child and a map/guidebook when we go out! So, we’ve been soaking up the atmosphere in the vicinity of the apartment we’re renting.
Thank goodness for the tiny apartment owned by a Frenchwoman, with all her belongings in it, so we feel like we’re getting an extra-authentic French experience! The apartment, in a very old typical Parisian building, is very central, very close to the River Seine, between the Pompidou Centre and Notre Dame Cathedral and there’s a great view of the Eiffel Tower from the bridge near us. We’ve hung out in cafes, bought food in the little supermarket round the corner, had croissants and coffee in a local coffee shop, giving ‘Starbucks’ a wide berth – I wonder how their huge, plastic-tasting croissant fare in Paris compared to the myriad local cafes’ tiny, melt-in-your-mouth wonders. The kids are loving saying ‘Bonjour’ to anyone and everyone they meet! They are going up to people to ask them whatever they are curious about including a policeman wearing rollerblades (to try and chase down countless pickpockets I’m afraid). They are having fun playing with local kids and the little park nearby makes Paris look like a rainbow nation it’s so cosmopolitan, which is fantastic! Paris really looks like a rainbow nation today for a different reason though; Gay Pride is being celebrated, which I think is great, although the kids have seen some interesting outfits and men dressed very exotically as women (although I don’t think they realize they aren’t women). We had to quickly divert their attention a couple of times because we couldn’t face questions about why the man over there is just wearing leather chaps, baring his bottom, no shirt on and a huge handlebar moustache!
The lesson is – even when things done go to plan, you can make the most of the situation. We are enjoying the city in an unexpected way and it’s all very French. We practice a little of the language. We eat like a local, and love it! And we’ve seen a few familiar sites, from the books we enjoyed looking at before we came. I can’t wait to see some of the art we’ve enjoyed learning about and hope a dear old school friend might be able to help out with the stroller for a couple of hours on one day!
It is funny though, as a homeschooler, when Edward or Petra chat to strangers, very quickly they ask about school. It seems an easy question to ask, ‘Do you play football at school?’, ‘Did you learn that at school?’ The funny thing is that Edward hasn’t learned to give them an answer which would explain the situation straightaway. He says, ‘I don’t go to school’ and leaves it at that. They look at him quizzically, unbelievingly, although you can see they can tell he’s not lying but can’t compute how that can be. After a pregnant pause, Edward picks up on this, that the conversation has come to a grinding halt and says, ‘I homeschool’. So far in Paris, this has been met with as much incomprehension as everywhere else, maybe they are wondering if their English is up to scratch and then finally Edward adds, after another stilted pause, ‘My Mum is my teacher’ and you see the lightbulb go off and they say, “Aaaah!” and seem satisfied with this, especially when one guy said, “And that explains why your little girl knows who the Mona Lisa is. I told you she was very smart”. I don’t like to be referred to as my kids teacher. I would love for Edward to say we learn together at home or something. But I think it’s the best way to explain to strangers what we do to avoid further uncomprehending looks and questions! They probably think I am a qualified teacher and so that’s alright. Grrrr!
Because it’s so light, the kids are going to sleep very late and waking too early. I therefore have to join them in French dreams now as much as I’d love to keep posting, in order to keep up with them tomorrow. Travel is wonderful. Homeschooling is fabulous and the two of them in combination is awesome! I can’t wait for the next few weeks to see how the kids’ open minds, prepared with a bit of background learning and knowledgeable enthusiasm will roll out in front of me. I hope they see how extremely enthusiastic I am too, learning alongside them, soaking up the wonders of a foreign adventure. My mouth waters already at the thought of the morning’s croissant and coffee!
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IF YOU’RE NEW TO HOMESCHOOLINGMIDDLEEAST, welcome! I highly recommend that you start reading from ‘Day 1’. The fastest way to access this is to look for ‘Archives’ on the right hand side of the home page, click on ‘February 2012’ and scroll down to the bottom of the page that opens. If you want a quick first visit, you could type a term e.g. ‘socialization’ or ‘university’, into the ‘Search’ box or of course you could just read my latest posts without doing anything!
Why I recommend starting at Day 1 is because this is an adventure into homeschooling that is not yet 3 months old and the journey has been a rollercoaster – philosophically and emotionally, catalogued daily for the first couple of months. For you to get the full intellectual and dramatic impact, it’s best to start at the beginning. You might be contemplating home educating and wonder what those early nail-biting days feel like or you might enjoy reading somebody else’s take on an experience you share with me, or you might be more generally interested in my thoughts and feelings on education and parenting. Whatever the reason you’re reading, I’m really humbled that you’re taking your valuable time to do so and I really hope I can be some kind of hope or inspiration for you. Thank you!