Monday, November 26, 2007

The EFAC families.

EFAC organized a Saturday picnic for the first weekend in a local park where we finally could get to meet the two teachers and the other parents and hopefully find some soulmates. I mentally sorted the parents into three groups:

• French mother married to American chap, trying to keep French going even though they will never live in France (there were a few French divorcees in this group too…)

• French-French couples who loved America, had green card (or were applying) who wanted children to be bilingual for heritage or future education/job…

• French expats in USA for short-term usually first time, wanting child to go to local school, but still keeping up French for return to France in few years…

The French mamans married to Americans were friendly with me; we had the shared connection of being married to a foreigner. A mother of a boy in Marc’s class, Pascale, who lived nearby gave me her number and told me it would be hard in the beginning. The French expats were chatty and keen to compare experiences of finding accommodation and where to go at the weekend. We met Elisabeth and Laeticia, and their families, and discovered they had pre-school age children attending a nearby school called Alcott. I made a note to call the next day for Gabriel. I also met Sylvie, a German married to a Frenchman with a girl in Nina’s EFAC class. She had lived in Chicago four years ago and knew a lot about EFAC and the city. I hope the two girls would form a friendship, Nina looked very sad these days.

How did we fit it? None of the above, although I felt closer to the temporary French expats more than the others, knowing that we would not stay long and also needed the French simply for future French education. But already we were calculating how long we would have to stay….Marc would be 11 in 2008 and would start secondary education, if we stayed in Chicago he would have to study by correspondence, which we didn’t want. Or we could transfer him and/or Nina to the Lycee Francais, but that cost 12,000$ a year…and then there was the problem of Gabriel who could not attend EFAC until he was five, two school years away, and needed private pre-schooling. The maths was frustrating and there was no easy solution. We would just have to take it year by year and see how it went.

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