I picked up La Fille from school. I was the first mother through those doors, a combination of flinty English elbows and a Gallic disrespect for queues.
Jab, jab, weave: the first in. Jab, jab: the first up the stairs. I found La Fille sitting with the rest of her class in a line on the floor in the corridor outside the classroom, which had been locked. I know it was locked because her 'doudou' comfort blanket was in a basket inside the classroom and the schoolmistress had to get out her keys to open the door so we could retrieve it. That was a bit scary, but I had expected worse: bruises, bloody nose, broken glasses. It turned out the only child La Fille knew in her class was a boy from play school whose specialist subject had been wrenching off her spectacles and roughing her up (it wasn't that personal as he also duffed up the staff). All her other friends, and I mean every single one of them, had been put in another class. My heart sank. Then it rose and soared with unconfined joy when La Fille's teacher uttered the words: "Oh you speak English? Me too. I am a Franco-American". Glory, glory be, light scented candles and waft the patchouli incense, crack open another bottle of vintage whatever, and thank Murphy's Law that says toast may always land butter side down but with the Marmite on the upside. Give thanks to the Wizard of Oz, I will not be having the conversations I had at the creche when La Fille was barely two years old.
Creche worker: "Your daughter refuses to say 'Merci'."
Me: "I think you'll find she's saying 'Thank You'.
Creche worker: "You are right, she is saying something and it sounds like 'Zhank You' but she won't say 'Merci'.
Me: "She doesn't say 'Merci' because she is saying 'Thank You'. That is English for 'Merci'.
Creche worker: "But it's not 'Merci'.
So La Fille skipped all the way home, said she'd had a "lovely time" at school and that X (the bully boy) was her new best friend. She said she liked school and that the teacher had spoken to her in English. Oh result, result, result. The teleporter has been left open just a subversive fraction. My foot is in the door.
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