Sunday, January 30, 2011

A new constellation of children

Well, the year is half-way over, or just begun. It depends on how you look at it. And my house is filling again with teens and pre-teens. From one sad child this fall with suicidal tendencies (she's now elsewhere, which I must say is rather a relief -- I was out of my league with her), I'm now the happy receiver/care-taker for three well-adjusted and pleasant young folk. The first was expected -- a 16 year old exchange student from Switzerland who's already spent 6 months in New Zealand, and is now getting her French up to speed. Joining her relatively quickly with the New Year is a young boy Leo's age, now in his class, part Belgian, part Dutch, and not a little dyslexic, but quite polite and friendly. And, the surprise, a friend of my 'suissesse' who was unhappily lodged with a different family in the school.

Apparently, the deciding factor is my somewhat abundant and generous welcome. The girls find me warm, funny, easy to be with, and my boys interesting company (particularly Jonas these days who is turning into quite the sociable and entertaining 9 year old). The house is comfortable, I'm not far from Avignon, I've yoga cds to borrow (plus yoga mats), my home-made bread is a hit (as are the cereal bars). The girls like my cooking -- a bit more adventuresome with them here: green lentils with bacon, swiss chard, onions and a pinch of cloves, diced root vegetable soup with Chinese noodles, cast iron stove baked sweet potatoes and sausages, twice baked mashed potatoes, home-made gnocchi... Yup. I do enjoy feeding a small horde. And, appreciation is what all cooks need, something my two boys are quick to give me for brownies and chocolate muffins, but less often for lentils.

With the weekdays filled with prep and corrections for my class I've less time at home to garden, clean, cook, bake (t'is been a long time since my last batch of muffins! then again, the stash of Swiss chocolates we had to get through after Christmas dissuaded me from the need for more sweets for quite some time). There's nothing like being a new teacher -- I'm paid for the 16 hours I teach, but I put in 2-3 hours before every class. This is not a complaint as I am fully aware that this is the classic ratio, particularly for someone as green as I. But on top of this are the weekly meetings with colleagues and students and... Ah well, what's a few hours in the day? At least till the tourism season kicks back in, I've the time and energy to devote to my charges, both at home and in class.

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