I apologise in advance for the length of this blog, but I have not been keeping up with it, so a lot has happened since my last entry!
The last week has been really good… apart from getting a bit of a stomach bug. I think I caught it from Alice who was sick on Thursday. I felt a bit funny on Friday night, but I still went out for a drink at Les Artistes (one of my favourite bars) with Betsy, her friend, Angie and Ian and Maria. We had exciting cocktails with sweets on and played crazy American card games, much to the amusement of some French people sat opposite us! I started chatting to one of them, happy to be using some French, but he was desperate to use his English so that was a bit disappointing!
It was a really good night, but I felt a bit ill walking home and in the morning, I woke up early and, to spare you the details, was very sick and didn’t stop until everything was gone. Thankfully that was all it was, and I felt poorly for the rest of the day but I was able to go meet William from the station. It was so amazing seeing someone from home in Nancy, my new home, and it made me realise how much I miss him and home in general. We had a great lunch with the family – well, I watched the eating - and spent the afternoon chatting. We even managed to head out in the evening for a nice dinner…William ate most of my dinner too! The children loved having someone else to play with. They loved him so much that I felt a bit rejected if I’m honest…! The weekend was so nice, we spent a lot of it sitting in cafes, talking.
It's now 'les vacances scolaires', so on Monday we had the children. We were all sat round talking and the topic came onto families. Stanley said “I’ve got two sisters, Alice and Lucy.” It was the sweetest thing and so gratifying that they’ve accepted me in that way. It makes it all worth it! Late afternoon we took Alice and Stanley on the train to Paris, leaving Tobias at home with his mum. At Gare de l’Est, I left William to head back home via the eurostar, and I met the children’s grandparents. We all went back to their apartment in the Parisian suburbs (the nice, southern suburbs!) I got to stay in their studio flat for the night, and had an amazing lie-in with no noise of children for once – such a treat! The next day, I said goodbye to the children and headed into central Paris on a bus and Metro and ended up at the Tuillerie gardens. I walked up the steps of the metro and the first thing I saw was the Eiffel tower! It was amazing! There I met up with a lovely American au pair, Mandy, who I met through reading her blog on this site – it is a great read! We had a really great time, chatting and comparing notes on the job and the children – hers sound so much worse than mine. We had a really nice lunch too in a typical Parisian restaurant, washed down with a nice jug of red wine! We then hiked up the many steps to the Sacre Coeur at Montmartre. It was totally worth it, as even in the hazy sunshine the view was spectacular, and the atmosphere was so alive and completely Parisian…the only way I can describe it really!
I had to head back later on that afternoon to get the train back to Nancy to collect Tobias from crèche. I am astounded by how fast the TGV train goes – covers the 300k between the cities in 1½ hours! It was just me and the little’un that night, but it went fine, and he didn’t wake up too early in the morning!
Anyway, on Wednesday after dropping him at crèche, I met Betsy and Krista with baby Noelle at the gare to get the train to Metz (a nearby city) for the day!
It was a really sunny but very windy day and we spent it chatting, enjoying the local patisserie selection and enjoying the beautiful medieval city. I feel so blessed by God to have these wonderful friends so soon into my stay here and it was great for us all to get of Nancy for the day and spend some good time together with lots of laughter! Noelle is so cute! And so good, too!
I was back in time to collect Tobias from crèche, and again, was alone with him as his mummy was not back until Thursday and his daddy is not back till Saturday. It went ok, but when it was time to go to bed, he would not settle. He didn’t want to go to sleep and when I left him lying down, said goodnight and turned the light out, he screamed and screamed. I didn’t really know what to do as I have not had to deal with this sort of thing before. I went back in after a few minutes and tried to calm him. The minute I picked him up he was happy again, but just would not go down. I was texting his mum to ask what to do and I tried all her suggestions, but by 10pm, when none of it had worked, I had to just leave him to cry. I phoned mum to ask what she would do, and apparently I should have gone in but not given him any attention, just to make sure he was ok, and to let him know I was there, otherwise he would just cry to get a cuddle or attention. Clearly I should have tried this earlier in the night. So I tried this, but to no avail. This child can really cry and cry. I established that he was not ill or hurt, or hungry, he just wanted attention. It must have been strange for him as none of his family were there and I felt so sorry for him. But eventually he stopped crying and went to sleep around midnight. I thought this might mean he would sleep in, but he was up at 7am! He seemed happy though, so I got him up and took him to crèche, then went home and went back to bed! I woke up at 11am and ate two bowls of coco pops and everything was ok! I was so glad that his mum got back early that evening and took over. I could go to Betsy’s student halls for some dinner and a nice girly evening! More about these halls of residence to follow…they are so very … ‘French’!
So a good week, a busy week. It has kept me from feeling homesick, as have letters and packages in the post - thank you so much :D It has also been a nice break from the three children and school routine. The children are back tomorrow but it’s the weekend, and we have a week of school holiday fun to follow!
Really though, they are so lovely, I just need to be firm with them and keep to my word. I have such a great situation here, and I am learning some really valuable lessons about being humble, looking after children and life in general. One thing that really sticks in my mind from this week is holding Alice and Stanley’s hands as we had to negotiate our way through Paris’s busy train and metro stations and the feeling that they are so vulnerable and that I would do anything to protect them. I am beginning to learn about a different kind of love.