It’s my boy’s last day of school. As of this afternoon, first grade will be officially over!
But I must say how proud I am of this child. Of this Anglophone kid at a complètement French school, learning to read and write this year… it was A LOT of work. Especially for ME! His Anglophone mother with whom he did his homework each day. Thank you, Google Translator!
At the start of the school year, there was an assembly of all the students, each to be assigned to his or her new teacher for the year. When Oliver’s name was called to get behind the young-looking blonde lady in the trim suit, a few of the parents near us clapped me on the back with congratulations, saying he got the best first grade teacher… I had no idea about such things, but if they had such confidence in her, then I was glad.
Man, was I ever glad. She turned out to be just what my kid needed this year: patient and kind.
We poured over the lessons each day. My kid didn’t even read much at the start of the year, so often I had to type the instructional text into a translator, just so we’d understand what the homework was!! There were many emails and phonecalls to daddy in the evening, if he wasn’t yet home from work to help, and bedtime was nigh….
We read the books each night. We worked hard on comprehension, because, as I explained to Oliver, it’s not enough just to be able to read the words or just say them correctly – you have to understand what they all mean.
The homework took more time for us each day than for most of his peers, I’m sure. And it wasn’t easy trying to make a concentrated effort on his studies AND prepare the dinner AND manage a saucy three-year-old bopping around the room all at the same time.
The language rules for French are fierce, yo! He’s slow reading the words, but his pronunciation is correct – he has a good ear, too. We didn’t do any after school programmes last year – there just wasn’t enough time in the day. (We focused on rollicking play at home instead.)
And I won’t yet talk about the desire I have for my visible-minority son to
excel do his very best at school. Another day, perhaps… that’s a whole other thing.
When we had a parent/teacher meeting in the winter to discuss his progress (which was entirely in French – I’m so glad Martin could come so he could translate) she explained that his grades we just slightly below the class average, but that it was normal – it had everything to do with the language, but not his efforts or his capabilities. She noted that the areas where he was above average though: English (naturally), gym (well, yes), and ethics. She said he was the most honest child she’d ever met. She said he was disciplined and serious about his work, always polite, soft-spoken and thoughtful, well-liked by his classmates, and that she never had any trouble with him at all.
Well. A mother can’t help but smile at that.
Fast forward to where we are now… for days and days Oliver has been coming home with his knapsack filled with notebooks and art projects he’s been working on all year. The accoutrement had been piling up on our dining table, so this past weekend, we finally began to sift through all his stuff, looking at the evidence of what he does all day. His handwriting is on everything… there’s some seriously lovely artwork, and he uses more colour when he draws now… his latest fascination is drawing race cars.
And within the stack of construction paper and duotangs, I found this:
Me: Um… Oliver? What is this?!
He: Uh, that? Um, well… I got that certificat.
Me: Well, I can see that! It says “For your quality of written French.” That’s… that’s amazing! What?! When did you get it?
He: Um… Tuesday, I think? Maybe Monday…
Me: WHAT?! Oliver, it’s SATURDAY now!! Wait. Tell me exactly what happened when you got it… did everyone in your class get something? Did Julie just… hand it to you?
He: No… we had une assemblée dans le gymnase, you know, with everyone in the school from maternelle to grade three, and then if they called your name, you came to the front, and everybody clapped, and they gave you a certificat. *blink*
(I must interject here how much I love when he peppers his English with French – he does it more and more all the time, but I always have to resist the desire to crush him in a bear hug – normalcy, you know.)
He: *smiling* What?
He: *giggling* What?!
Me: So, did anyone else in your class receive something?
He: Well, Alexis did, because he got the highest marks in the class all year. He always does.
Me: *flatly* Are you kidding me?
He: *giggling and backing up*
Me: ARE! YOU! KIDDING! ME?!
He starts laughing and running from me, but I grab him and throw my arms around him, proceed to kiss every inch of his face, and nearly squeeze the poop out of him…
Martin said, “Congratulations, mummy… you both worked really hard this year.” His eyes were bright with tears, completely blown away too.
I bit my lip to keep my chin from wobbling, which didn’t really work. A few fat tears spilled out of my eyes pretty quickly.
My heart nearly broke wide open with pride as I snapped this pic this morning, on his last day of school… that’s my boy.
Go, Oliver, go, Go, GO!!!