In Summer

It’s day 4 of my summer au pair adventure, and the last few days have been crazy.

The kids are still in school M, T, Th, and F, so I have a fair amount of free time on those days. Tuesday, Fede took me to a nearby beach to swim (well, I swam), tan (well, I burnt), and eat the most delicious fresh seafood (well, I ate seafood, she’s vegetarian) at a restaurant on the water. In the afternoon, she went to pick up the kiddos while I prepared myself for the evening. The next few hours were spent chasing three little ones around the backyard, trying to eat dinner while a two-year-old came and sat on my lap every few minutes, and attempting to get the boys to eat, too. When the kids all were in bed, Jeff, Fede, and I told stories and exchanged photos before we retired as well. Though I love, love, love the kids, I also love, love, love this nightly quiet time as we sit wrapped in the blankets on the deck and watch the sun set, a few candles glowing to bring us light.

Yesterday the kids didn’t have school (the French education system is strange, and the kids only go to school four days a week), but Matt (5, the oldest) had a drawing class in the morning, and Fede took the other two grocery shopping while I hung out at home. When they returned, we played for a while and then headed to a nearby cafeteria/buffet/restaurant for lunch. Two other boys and their moms joined us there, and we all ate before the kids ran off to play (and scream, and cry) in the restaurant’s McDonald’s-like play place. One of the moms jokingly kept hiding behind her sunglasses with a “don’t look at us, we’re not the moms!”

When we arrived back home, the kids took a little nap (as did I) before we all “went to the pool” (which is actually just below their house in another part of the backyard). A little later, Liam’s friend from lunch, Adrian, and his mom joined us. Actually, everything went really well there, and I think all the kids had a great time. I was mostly in the water (we decided one “supervisor” in the water and one out was the best way), so I didn’t bake in the sun. After we swam for a while, Fede’s brother from Italy, Max, arrived, and will be staying here for the next few days. Showers, dinner, and bed followed for the kids, before Fede, Jeff, Max, and I sat down to another amazing dinner: eggplant with oil and tomatoes, Focaccia, baked vegetables (tomatos, zucchini, artichoke, and spinach), baguette, quinoa, rice, and fresh mozzarella.

One of the things I find so interesting about living here is the language situation. Fede, who is from Italy, speaks to the children half in Italian and half in French, and to Jeff and me in half French and half English. Jeff, from France, speaks French and English, and Max speaks Italian but also knows English and some French. Confused yet?

It seems Jeff and Max have, for the most part, chosen to converse in English, which is awesome for me. Jeff and Fede switch between French and English, and thankfully I can understand both (seriously I think I’m already getting better at my comprehension). Sometimes Fede talks to her brother in Italian, but she usually translates for me if the conversation is funny. And actually, the languages are so similar it’s not super hard to pick up. Hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll be pretty good at Italian too.

Liam is the most interested in English, and the most impressed that I can speak it. Sometimes he tells me to speak only in English, but as soon as I start talking and he can’t understand he changes his mind. He often asks me “how do you say ____ in English?” I’m realizing how many simple French vocabulary words I’ve forgotten as I move up to higher-level classes, and sometimes I need a little reminder from Fede.

Today is my day off, and I’m enjoying the beautiful view from my air-conditioned apartment as I try to nurse the sunburn I got on Tuesday. Tomorrow I might go explore the city and figure out the bus system, but for now I am content here. The kids have their Lion King “spectacle” tonight, and I’m so looking forward to watching all the little French kids dance and sing in their animal costumes (I mean, seriously, what’s cuter than that?).

Ciao! A plus tard!

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