This last week in Paris has been one of huge improvement. Despite the fact that I feel like my knowledge of the French language has hit a wall, I feel like I’m making significant progress everywhere else. I’m getting into a good routine with the kids and finding that they are much better behaved when they have structure to their days. Specifically, le garçon and I are getting much closer thanks to some one on one time while la fille is at her various activities. Initially it was much harder to bond with him because, quite frankly, he’s a big ole’ mama’s boy.
Last night he was so disappointed when it was papa coming through the door and not maman that he literally let out a shout of disapproval. But after a few park trips, fort building, and a million rounds of animal dominos, I really feel like he’s starting to love me. The other day when I went to pick him up from school, he came running to greet me with a big smile and an even bigger hug—progress!
My own day to day routine is also starting to feel more, well, routine. Interestingly enough, I’m actually finding it much easier to meet other English speakers than it is to meet “locals.” There are so many groups and outings for ex-pats and au pairs, but integrating with the Parisians is a bit harder. The other day at the park, I met a super sweet Irish mum whose daughter happened to be in the same judo class as le garçon. She treated me to a hot cup of tea and told me what Paris has been like for her since moving here in June. “It turns out that Paris,” she enlightened me, “isn’t really a good place to come if you want to learn French.”
The whole language thing has probably been the biggest struggle so far, and with so many English speakers around, it’s hard to be consistent about speaking French all the time and being immersed in the language. At the same time, however, sometimes I’m just so grateful to be able to express myself fully to other English speakers—it’s nice to know you’re being understood.
Living here does often feel like one big paradox. Life starts to feel “normal” (whatever that really means)—daily school runs, metro routes, schedules, etc—and then suddenly I’ll stumble upon some amazing piece of history and realize, once again, that this city is anything but normal.
In the meantime, I’m just trying to find my place in it all. I visited a bilingual church a couple of Sundays ago and the preacher spoke about how every day is full of potential and opportunity when we let God direct our steps. That’s been the prayer I’ve been praying every morning here in Paris—that God would put me exactly where He wants me…the right place at the right time. Paris was a dream He put in my heart a long, long time ago, and He’s gotten me this far. Needless to say, I’m excited to find out what each new day will bring.