Thursday, September 24, 2009

Money can buy friends AND preschool teachers

Poor Fisher Price grandma. I asked the Loosh what was going on here and he replied, "I dunno but I think she's in trouble." Don't give up, Fisher Price grandma.

Drop-off at school is the toughest part of the day for Lucien. We give him a kiss, tell him au revoir and tears immediately well up in his eyes as he whispers, "I'm gonna be sad now." But today I nearly had him. I bent down and with great enthusiasm (and some tickling) told him what a happy place school was -- why just look at all the happy kids drawing pictures, playing with blocks and battering each other about the head!

He looked convinced and even started cracking a smile when suddenly the little boy next to us completely lost it, crying and screaming at the top of his lungs, "Mama! Mama! Don't leave me!" and whopping me in the face with his stuffed animal. A now fake bright smile fixed on my face, I continued chattering away about how happy and fun school is while little mood-killer Sebastien suffered his breakdown two feet away. No longer fooled, Lucien's bottom lip started to quiver. Thanks tons, Seb.

We don't pay for Lucien's public schooling, of course, but the teacher asks for a yearly contribution to help buy supplies for special projects. The "gimme moolah" request card is a brilliant little piece of panic-inducing solicitation. Printed at the top, in big bold letters, is your child's name. Below that are boxes in which you must write sums of money.

Talk about pressure. I mean, with the Loosh's name above and our contribution directly below, the two will be linked forevermore. The teacher will take one look and immediately know how much we love our child. Or how highly we value her efforts. Or how damn cheap and worthless we are. At first, of course, we considered giving nothing because of the hilarity. Picture her face when she saw the Loosh's name right above a row of happy little zeros like this -- 0! 0! 0! 0!

But as much as that would tickle us, we revised our strategy in the hopes of buying the teacher's affections and exclusive dedication to our child -- we are going to be the Bill and Melinda Gates of l'ecole maternelle. We're going to find out what other people are giving and triple it. Quadruple it. Pour our life savings onto her desk. Retirement may have to be postponed ten or twenty years but we WILL be her favorites, dammit.

Preschool lunch is served in courses because this is France and that's just what they do. While perusing the school's menu this week, I nearly choked on my peanut butter and banana sandwich, feeling intense anger and outrage and demanding to know, "WHERE are the TATER TOTS?"

Some examples from the horrifyingly tater tot-less menu: hors d'oeuvres such as green salad, taboulé with cucumber and mint, vegetable plate with artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Main dishes are things such as "sauté de boeuf" with tomato sauce, lamb, sauteed fish fillet with lemon, roasted pork au jus.

Side dishes are basmati rice and cauliflower au gratin. The cheese course is usually emmental, edam or camembert. Most desserts are fresh fruits but on a few select days the kids get chocolate mousse or the "house chocolate cake."

My favorite column is the last one, which gives suggestions for the evening meal at home. Green salad with shrimp-stuffed avocado, cheese and spinach soufflé. Rice with seafood medley and cheese plate, baked apples for dessert. Quinoa salad with sauteed vegetables and shrimp. Tomatoes with balsamic vinaigrette, lentils with mushrooms, some sort of pâté en croûte, and a poached pear in vanilla sauce for dessert.

These suggestions do come in handy. Every evening as I prepare dinner wearing my June Cleaver apron, I say, "Okey dokey, let's wander over here and check out the suggestions for ... HA HA HA HA HEE HEE OH THAT'S A GOOD ONE." Then I throw whatever frozen specialty I've picked up from Picard into our pint-sized oven, still chuckling and wondering, "What the hell is a pâté en croûte and why am I wearing a June Cleaver apron?"

I like having a French teacher. It's important to learn French and whatnot but it's also the closest I'm going to come to having a French woman friend. Sure, I have to pay her to sit and chat with me but sometimes I ignore that part and pretend she likes me for me.

Our conversations about the hot topic of the day often turn into cultural comparisons between France and the U.S. Fascinating stuff. We often just say, "Hmm" and stare at each other with curiosity and heads tilted to the side, as if we're staring at a particularly interesting zoo animal.

I ask her why French women are so likely to forgive infidelity by their partner. She asks me why American women are so crazy about marriage when half of marriages don't survive. I ask her how the French really feel about their socialized health care system. She asks me why Americans think Obama is Hitler. (OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD...) I tell her blood pressure readings are comprised of two numbers. She tells me no, blood pressure readings are comprised of one number. I ask her why the French eat duck gizzard. She looks impressed and says, "Wow, you ate duck gizzard?" and I feel a newfound respect flowing across the table.

I bet if I stopped paying her tomorrow she'd keep coming over to be my friend. But just in case, I'll keep paying her. I'm gonna buy the love of that preschool teacher, too.

Now come here and let me squeeze you because I'm your mama,


It's Just Me! said...

MMM. Can I have lunch at Lucien's school?

Marty said...

No kidding! Me too...

Sweet photo of Loosh and the belly!

Do you have a name yet?

MJ said...

Hi guys! Money can buy you, too, Marty? Yippee! And yes, I have a name. Do you have a name?

Marty said...

LOL...I deserved that...

Anonymous said...

I love to see your pregnant belly!

Two Normal Moms said...

Came over her from Michelle at So Wonderful, So Marvelous.... oh how I would love to see REAL vegetables on a school menu here in the states! That is quite the menu! I love that they give "suggestions" for dinner- ha!

MJ said...

Hi Ally!

Happy to see you over here and happy to hear Michelle is chattin' me up over at her superb blog. I once came to Paris with Michelle, you know, many, many lifetimes ago...

I don't know what I'm going to do when we come back home and see what American kids eat for lunch at school. I think my head may explode. Time to change that nonsense.

Thanks for stopping by!


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