In the 1990s I had a teenage French boy as an unofficial exchange student. I worked with his father and he came for a summer to work on his English. (More)
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Marc was 6’4″ and wore 32 waist 36 length jeans. He was beyond happy to find lots of his sized jeans at sale prices. For that time, he was exceptionally tall for a French youth. He was happy to see American youth his same height. He no longer felt weird. His dad thought his son was shy and introverted and gave him a goal of meeting 10 American youth. My sons were then 1 and 4 years old. I put out the word to my neighbors with teenagers and invitations flowed in. I told his dad at a business meeting that Marc had met a nice girl from Paris and invited her over to play tennis and that he had a circle of acquaintances numbering at least in the 20s. His dad was incredulous. “My son, Marc has 20 friends? He has invited a girl to play tennis? What has happened?”
One summer day Marc invited two other French kids to come and water ski at our house. I gave the instructions in English and Marc translated them to French. One of the instructions was, “Don’t stand up too fast.” For someone who has never water skied and took that literally, it was hard to watch. The young Frenchman was still in a squat and bouncing off the water and still hanging on. I looked back and decided to cut the motor and try the instructions again. Marc had been standing in the boat and gesturing wildly. His French instructions could not be heard.
As I circled the boat around, the kid in the water said, “Le enema!” No translation was required. We tried again and the kid was absolutely elated with the joy of skimming across the water. When we parked the boat and debriefed, we refined the instructions for the next guy. He missed the enema phase and went straight to water skiing.
Marc came back for the next summer and for his freshman year at the University of Minnesota. I had dinner with him in Paris about 10 years later and we both laughed at the “le enema” story. He read Babar in French to my boys and was quite patient and wonderful with them. My philosophy was, if I can’t take my kids around the world, I will bring the world to them.
Political note. Call your Representative today and tell them to vote NO on AHCA! You can find your representatives number here. Or the number for the House of Representatives switchboard is (202)225-3121. Call today.
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