Ella and I had a nice ride on the tram. You remember how fun it was as a child to ride public transportation, right? She was giddy the whole way. When we arrived at the mall, we first stopped for lunch. We went to the cafeteria-type place (Casino) where the food there is sure to please any palette, from 1 year - 100 years old. After lunch we went to the equivalent of SportMart, which here is called Decathlon. We found some jazz shoes for Ella and she somehow convinced me to buy her an outfit that belongs on Fame. I couldn't resist, as her excitement was bubbling over. After that, we went and found a few items on the sale rack for me to wear to The Pavement and then eventually we made our way over to the workout contraptions. I think Ella must have spent 30 minutes riding the stair stepper, the treadmills, you name it. She was having a blast! Alas, eventually it was time to start getting home. We boarded the Twisto and off we went.
On the way home, Ella was telling me about her friends at school. She was telling me how they don't really play with her, how they make fun of her ears and how her best friend says mean things to her. She told me how at recess she tries to trade Pokeman Cards with the boys but they just take her cards and give her nothing in return. She told me how her one friend is nice one minute and then mean to her the next. I told her that those things didn't seem very friendly to me. Up until now, I had the impression that Ella was just a happy kid, making friends in a foreign country against all odds. But during our conversation I started to realize that Ella is the "Rock" in a game of Rock, Scissors, Paper. She can handle the "Scissors" that come along often but sometimes a piece of "Paper" comes along and wraps her up - bums her out. But the "Scissors" happens more than "Paper" and she continues to win the game because she is the "Rock." And she could have come home from school and been sad and distraught, but instead she comes home happy most days and tells me the fun things that happened at school. I don't know, I am beginning to think I just wanted to hear only happy things. Living in La La Land.
The past two weeks, I have also been receiving progressively worse reports from Mia's teachers. I kid you not, she has been stealing food (treats) from other kids on the playground, having temper tantrums in class and crying when she doesn't get her way. She has been singing loudly all day long in class, even when the teacher is teaching and no one should be talking and she also does whatever she wants whenever she wants. And telling the teachers, when they try to intervene and help, not to touch her. Now we all know that Mia is stubborn by nature. But these reports at the end of the day were just enough to make me send Mia to her room one night after school, only to come out for dinner. Tough? Probably. But I was embarrassed. I tried to talk to her, tried to have her explain to me what was causing her to act out this way - looking for an answer. But she would only say what I wanted to hear...and as I am typing this it is reminding me of a period of time that I went through with Ella. But regardless, Mia's behavior was/is getting worse by the day.
I told Andrew about this issue with Mia a few days ago, as he had been traveling for work or out late with visiting office colleagues from the U.S. for quite a few days. Andrew sat down and talked to Mia and she told him she doesn't like France, doesn't like to speak French, doesn't like to hear French and that she only speaks English. Basically, she told Andrew she is rebelling against her life here in France is she is bound to give everyone h.e.double toothpicks until she is out of here. Here I was thinking that it would take a longer time for Mia to come around. She did fine last year in school and I expected fine this year. But I now see that she probably got away with a lot last year because she was new and foreign and the teacher didn't want to bother me - especially since things got considerably better after we split up Grace and Mia. And this year, she just can't get away with as much. Geez, La La Land is really filling up fast.
You are probably wondering about Grace. She got glasses last week which she is really happy about. She wears them pretty consistently and has her sister totally jealous. Mia would do just about anything to get prescribed glasses right now. She has had one potty accident in class so far, but nothing to get her kicked out of school yet. She comes home from school singing French songs and trying to speak words that really do sound French - though they are just jibberish. But the point is that she is trying, she is trying to speak in French and that is encouraging. Dare I say that Grace is happy?
What about Andrew? Well, Andrew is doing OK. It is a real struggle for him to go to work many days. The main reason for the struggle is him being an American who doesn't speak fluent French in charge of an all French office and that just doesn't jive well for everyone. And if you have been in this type of situation you probably can comprehend this matter. And it's really too bad, because he is really good at what he does and they would benefit so much if they just gave him a break and listen to him. Regardless, he is plugging away and doing well, he has good relationships with all the other European offices and remains an inspiration and collaborator for his U.S. colleagues. When Andrew and I discussed coming to France for his job, I certainly had higher hopes for him. Meaning, I really thought his genuine character, his smart mind, and his great, sincere smile would win anyone over (it won me over!) despite the nationality, culture and language differences. But it seems he has a tough crowd to deal with. And deal he does - what a trooper! It is official - La La Land is full.
This morning, all three girls were playing a game called "French", and in the game they were all characters who could only speak French. That was quite an accomplishment for Mia - she was all into this game! Progress may be in progress...