Monday, 1 October 2007
An outing with Madame B.
Late Thursday night, we checked in Maggie's man bag for school, and there is a note marked "urgent" from Madame B.. Dread. What now? Has someone already gone and thrown themselves down the stairs? It's only the end of September.
We read the note. Mme. B. would like to take the kids on a field trip to see fruits and vegetables made into works of art. They need two bus tickets and she is hoping for two chaperones in order to make the trip. Great, they're going to go exploring Paris a little, and this is my chance to go along and "spy" on the class.
Friday morning I deliver Maggie and ask Mme. B. if she needs a chaperone. Yes, you are the first here, and I need at least two. Okay, I'll go. I say that she can call my husband if she is in a bind. (Aside: Mme. B sneaks a phone call to Sean in a whisper. The main teachers have all told the students they don't understand or speak English, and only speak French to the parents in front of the children. I actually think this is a good idea. So Sean cracks up because here is Mme. B. calling him at home and whispering for him in perfect English to come on the field trip with us. It turns out later that there are two other mothers and Sean is not needed. He is relieved.)
I tell her I'll try to be on time, but I may be a few minutes late. We decide if they are not at school, I'll meet them at the bus stop. The little pumpkins were already at the bus stop and had already let one bus go by in order to wait for me- very kind of Mme. B. and the kids. We wait for 15 more minutes for the next bus and the kids are getting a little restless.
"I don't know if we can do a field trip again," says Mme. B. solemnly, "they get very restless wating". Oh my goodness, the success of future field trips depends on this.
I kick into Mary Pat M. (or Elizabeth Edwards) mode and suggest we sing a song. Mme. B. started singing a song she taught the kids that morning about firemen and the kids joined in. Quite cute to hear the little darlings singing French. I also like to know that Mme B. is singing happy little children's songs.
The bus comes and we hop on and head to Jardins du Luxembourg where the exhibit is on display in the Orangerie. The kids are a little rowdy on the bus, but another parent, J. and I have no problem telling them to sit or assigning them new places. The success of future trips depends on this, I think.
We enter the building and enter a gallery of art made with fruits, vegetables and natural objects. It is light and easy to move around. There are faces, people and paintings made out of produce. Mme. B. is full of enthusiasm and the children love it.
One man is carving beautiful designs in squash and another is creating little mice and other creatures out of radishes and tomatoes. There is also a demonstation of a magimix juicer from which we got to try fresh carrot and apple juice. Quite tasty. We also tried tomato juice with mozzarella at another stand. Art and tasty snacks all at one exhibit. I'm starting to like this Mme. B..
As a way to find out if she is reading french books to the class, I tell her there are some fun books for kids about fruits and vegetables at the exhibit if she reads to the children and is interested. Oh yes, she reads many books to the children, but appreciates the tip and has a look while I watch the kids. We're a team.
We look around the exhibit once more and then head for the bus. This time we're on in a pinch. Mme B. pointed out a great kids bookstore along the way. She mentioned that one day, she intends to take the kids to the market and buy a few things. "Oh and then go back to school and make a soup?" I quip in my usual smart a-- way. "Yes", she affirms "a potage". Excellent.
The year is looking a lot brighter already. I'm glad I went on the field trip. Not only to see the children safely on and off the bus (I worry), but to experience Maggie with her class. She had a couple of girls who stayed close to her which was nice to see. Mostly, it allowed me time to spend with Mme. B. and see a lighter side of her.
She again thanked me this morning for going on the field trip and said that J. and I were very professional and did a great job, and hoped we'd be at the next field trip. We passed! Yeah! There'll be another field trip!