I spoke recently about how I’d made the decision to put the girls in our village school. It’s an idea I’d been toying with and discussing with my husband for some time. My youngest daughter Lilly has to come home at lunch time and I was already having to do a 45-60 minute round trip three times a day to and from the school, which was extremely difficult whenever my hubby is away for extended periods in the USA. However, there was also the impact on the girls.
Just prior to Christmas my eldest got a cough and I kept her off of school. Then she didn’t want to go back, putting on a fake cough whenever the subject of school was brought up. She’s always loved school, so I was surprised to say the least.
When we moved to our village, which was further away from the school than our old house, she started to comment on how near everything was. We had been living in the countryside, pretty much isolated. She was so joyful at being able to walk out of her front door into society!
So many times people have made the comment to me that children will just pick up a second language, its easy for them. That’s just not true, so if you’re thinking of moving abroad please consider that. It’s hard and tiring for them. It’s not a holiday, but their every day life. Anyway, I think her going from a more relaxed level of school to the more intense level of schooling required for her age was just too much for her.
As my husband hit the half way mark of being abroad I wrote him a text; “we have to seriously talk about their schooling’. I’d gone from ‘it will be her [my eldest child’s] decision’ to its happening, just a case of when. In fact, shortly after that I decided it was going to be as soon as possible. I arranged a school visit, both girls got on well and by the next week they were going to the village school.
They had one more day to say goodbye at their old school and it hit me, let alone the girls. Their old school had been very good and welcoming to us. They understood why I’d made the decision – too early starts for little children, dark country roads, long journeys on top of long days – but the children were going to miss her and she them. I don’t think I’ve ever been so saddened by a goodbye.
However, it was the right decision. The girls have made friends straight away, and after 18 months of living in France I am feeling that we finally have a chance to be a part of the community where we live. As we walk to school together I’m not only meeting parents at the school gates, but seeing their faces in our little, local shops and having a sense of belonging. The girls are loving it.
The school and other parents are excited to having English people at the school too. Not only that, but as we walk to and from the school now I get lots of opportunities to meet my neighbours. Today I spoke for ages with a woman from over the road who was a French teacher in the UK. She seems wonderful – it’s so exciting!
To cap it all off it snowed on Wednesday. Neither of my girls have ever seen snow. They were out in the garden enjoying it, not a care in the world. Life is good. These are the moments you cherish and thank God!
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