Hard to believe that it is approaching the middle of February of 2010. Our family has been back in the United States for almost 6 weeks. We are back in the swing of things: school, work, laundry, ballet, socializing. As we go out and have a chance to hang out with friends and family, they often ask about France. What was it like living there? Is it nice to be home? Do you like it better in France or in the United States? Do your girls speak French? What do you miss the most about France? Do you speak French? I love all these questions - they help me to not forget what a fabulous experience we had. The way our busy lives go, it is almost too easy to forget. Sometimes, I can go for days and forget that the whole experience even happened, which totally surprises me. How can such a life-changing event be so quickly forgotten? Unfortunately, it is so true! So, the challenge becomes not allowing myself, my family, to forget. I was thinking about all this the other day as I was taking a shower. I realized that my favorite shower gel, which I brought back from France and whose pretty scent reminds me of our adventures, is almost gone. The distinct smell that reminds me almost every morning about our adventures in France is down to it's last drop. Will I remember less and less about our lives in France, once the shower gel is gone and no longer reminding me?
I know, I sound really dramatic. But as I have mentioned in the past, my nose knows. Smells, more than anything else, remind me of the past. Good times, bad times, plain times. And yeah, I could try to go online and buy a case of my favorite shower gel from France. But then it would TOTALLY ruin that one day that I could have 20 years from now, when I suddenly smell that shower gel and have the best memories flood back to me. I mean, I liked wearing Escape by Calvin Klein in high school and when I smell it high school reels before me like a yearbook. But I am not about to go out and buy a case of it. First, because I truly believe that perfumes should be taken off the shelf after 3 years. Perfumes, in my mind, get dated just like bell bottoms and dickeys. But second, because I cherish the unexpected Escape smell that occasionally passes.
So I think the key to remembering not to forget is incorporating what we experienced in France in our day to day lives as best we can. I try to cook some of our favorite meals that we often had at our apartment in France. Grace and Mia continue to sing (all the time) French songs - even with Ralph's World and Laurie Berkner constantly playing in the background. Ella still cherishes her French practice books that the school gave her on her last day of school. At night, she often likes to take 20 - 30 minutes by herself just to look through some of her old French schoolwork, redoing some things she got wrong and trying to do some new stuff. Her and I converse in French with each other usually at least once per day. I even hear Grace and Mia playing together, speaking French. The words are mostly made up, but they could probably fool you if you didn't know any better. And occasionally, if the girls request to watch television, I say OK but it must be in French. Will all of these tactics last and keep France at the top of our minds? Not sure. But maybe over time new ideas will bubble up.
The search for helping Ella to continue studying French continues. We visited a school last week that offers continuing education classes for Ella's age, but it became unappealing when we saw the drive would be 45 minutes each way, fighting traffic. Other options are just extremely expensive. I wonder if schools give scholarships to 6 year old children? That would be the only solution.
And there you have it. Six weeks after leaving France that is where we stand. Pretty good, I think! I'll be sure to check back in another few weeks to tell you how life is progressing - Life After France!