Tuesday, 30 September 2008

French Fries at Dawn

At La Fille's parent-teacher meeting on Saturday we learned there is "lots of aggression" in her class. I am not sure what this means but the plastic giraffe and lion have been banished to an out-of-reach shelf. Apparently the weapons of choice for these oppugnant youngsters are not flick knives and knuckledusters, thank God, but plastic carrots and chips. The teacher, who has 30 years experience, seems to be struggling. Afterwards, the Frenchman, having established that La Fille keeps well out of any embrangle and thus there is no threat to her glasses, is unsympathetic. "How difficult can it be? They are only two and three-year-olds," he says. I, who have difficulty controlling one willful three year old, say nada.

I am not comfortable with three-year-olds being described as "aggressive". I suspect a teacher in the UK would be sacked or severely reprimanded for this choice of words. I would prefer "high-spirited" or "energetic" or "hyperactive", but then that might be because so far La Fille has escaped having her head stoved in by a wild animal or toy vegetable. My French friends say this is evidence of British hypocrisy and political correctness and our growing habit of calling a spade an earth displacing implement.

The French teacher's comments would make lurid headlines back home where there seems to be a hunger for anything that talks Britain down. I was astonished by how, long before credit and crunch and crisis became the new 'c' words, people were so pessimistic and determined to badmouth everything about the country. My theory is it is why nobody will have a word said against France. Tell them it is not El Dorado and they go 'La, la, la, la' with their fingers in their ears. Perhaps is it is a safety valve: life in Britain is crap, let's cross the Channel.

God knows what the UK papers would make of the outbreak of legume rage among French toddlers. Instead they are full of interesting things you did not know you did not know.

*According to a medical group Belfast is the city in which you are most likely to have had a tummy tuck; Chester a face lift; Nottingham a nose job, Newcastle and Bristol (how appropriate) breast augmentation and London botox.

*The cost of cheese in the UK has gone up nearly 50% in the last year.

*One in ten British people would rather go to the dentist than host a dinner party.

*A wedding dress made of rubber washing-up gloves the artist turned inside out is on display at a Cumbrian museum. The curator said: "The work demonstrates both the young girl's dream of a white wedding and the mundane reality of household." No...really!

Homesick yet?


Cimon said...

I went to the parents / teacher (only one in our case) meeting last friday, and we were told the children were agressive as well.

Unlike you, I don't feel uncomfortable with it, and I would feel more uncomfortable with the hyperactive stuff !

What the teacher explained was they were pushing, holding hair and so on. Still, although the teacher felt bad at returning the children with marks all over the body, she presented it as perfectly normal : agressiveness is, according to her, a way to communicate for kids with poor verbal skills (she even made a connection between verbal skills and beating other children, although I have a boy who both speaks very well and beats others).

So I might have an explaination : does agressive in English and agressif in French have the same exact meaning ? It happened once to me with radical in French and Spanish that are almost the same, but with a slight difference...

Will you get the stuff La Fille made for the next holidays ?

Dumdad said...

Oh caliginous days in Blighty and the end of the world is nigh!

Jaywalker said...

I am taking the tortoises in to maternelle on Monday, so I hope there will be no outbreaks of chip violence...

I am slightly homesick. But I always get homesick in the autumn. I want
builders tea in Russell Square café and leaf kicking, despite the rubber glove wedding dresses and cheese crisis... Consoling myself with Star Ac. Raphael Amargo is hysterical!

Nicol said...

I always find it interesting how other country deal with the same problems that we have hear. I work with several 2 and 3 year olds who can be rather agressive. When that happens there is only one thing I'm allowed to do. They put their nose in the corner for 2 to 3 minutes. Then a nice chat with their parents later explaining what happened. This of course is in a daycare situation. In the public school system, they would not be allowed to use time out. Anymore, kids get a way with way too much!

Parisgirl said...

Good point Cimon, I will get out the dictionary and check. But La Fille's teacher was talking about more than pulled hair or pushing. She said there were running battles in the middle of the class with "weapons"!
Can you help...how much is one expected to put into the "solidarity fund" every month/year?
Dumdad, impeccably spelled as usual!
Jaywalker, don't you just remember how they said reality tv would never catch on in France?
Nicol, our class has the "calming chair" for first offences and a time-out in the adjacent dormitory where the children have their afternoon sieste for repeat offenders.

Cimon said...

@ parisgirl

I have the same exact problem. My solution was : ask the parents who already had their children there.

The answer was : €10 per month.

Our answer : €50 per trimester.

Although, as a good jacobinistic republican, I find it a twist in equality between kids : those lucky enough to live in a rich neighbourhood will have access to nice paintings, more theater or better food.

btw, the parents/teacher meeting was a great success : we discovered our son was actually able to dress (or at least put on his coat) alone !!!

@ Nicol : in my son's class, offenders are sent to the corridor so that they think about what they did. The teacher confessed the thinking twice was more likely to take place in the corridor if noisy and in the classroom if silent...

parisgirl said...

Thanks Cimon. That is a big help. I won't repeat what my husband said about schools, requests for money, paying taxes and "free" education. I think he's a jacobinistic republican too!

Iota said...

Or maybe it's that the English see aggression as a bad thing, whereas the French...

Iota said...

I can't believe I just said that.

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

The English are happy to do agression when inside their tin cans on wheels though.
I'v linked you on my blogroll, PG! I lived in Paris for a year teaching English so it's nice to get an ex pat perspective again, albeit many yrs on!
I got engeged there too, oh yes, it's all coming back to me now....