French Mum, humanitarian, restless explorer and doer on sabbatical in Cebu (Philippines): one Attila in each arm, I am exploring the “toddlers safe” corners of the region, while trying to keep some room for Me.
Tomorrow, we are flying back home: the City of Lights, the land of gastronomy, the paradise of wine connaisseurs and literature passionated. My beloved Paris, here we come!
Actually we are going to MY home.
My children are born and raised in Asia and know Thailand and the Philippines far better than France. Sushi, pad thai, pancit and even kimchi are much more often on the menu than ratatouille or clafoutis.
They eat Asian, speak Asian, but much to my daughter’s despair, they’ll never look Asian. All the compliments Ms Attila can get on her curly golden hair, her long black eyelashes and her priceless white skin are meaningless to her. All that she wants is to look just like her classmates!
A month ago, her school had 4-week program called “Continents”. They invited the parents of the foreign students to run a short presentation on their country to their kids’ classmates. Guess who was the French Ambassador?
I took the kids on a trip to Paris, dressed them like French people in winter and we had a snack with Petits Beurre and Chocolate (Mr Attila Sr being Swiss, Toblerone was a must share!). It was hilarious to see the kids trying the winter socks, most of the Filipino thought they were long gloves for summer (“like the ones of the habal habal (motorcycle) driver M’am“). The Japanese, usually pretty shy, were so proud to complement my stories on “what winter feels like”. Ms Attila’s best friend Isabella eventually summed it up :” I got it M’am, it is like in Frozen“. Thanks Disney for facilitating cross cultural communication!
I told the kids they would have chocolate only if they can ask me in French. They are amazing at mimetic accents and repeating sounds they are probably hearing for the first time. The youngest the best, they are not shy, they don’t think their accent is not good enough. They are natural born communicators.
Ms Attila was my assistant. She helped her classmates in repeating the French words, and was so happy to share her little knowledge about France. She would actually talk more than me (yes, gotta be my daughter !). We had a lovely time, and I really appreciated how confident she’d become.
When I picked her up at school at the end of the day, she was so proud to tell me that all her classmates and all the teachers wanted to visit Paris ! (who wouldn’t want to visit a town where we can have chocolate even for breakfast and as many French fries as we want, any hour of the day?).
We are living tomorrow to Paris and on top of the excitement to hug the whole French family again and eat all the treats her mothers is fantasizing about, Ms Attila is on a mission: To take pictures and collect stories to share with her classmates. I noticed that since our little session, she does not care about straightening her hair anymore, and she even told me she actually loves her blond hair now. “You know Mum, in France people have so many different colours of hair. Plus, Briana said my hair is like Anna’s“. (Frozen, thanks again for easing our way in Asia!).
Some day, we’ll move back to Europe, and I tell her this story again. Once upon a time, she and her brother were the foreigners, and they looked very different from their classmates.But their friends welcomed them and we shared our stories and our snacks. I’ll remind Ms Attila how she’d felt after our session, and that she has the power to make people feel as content as she’s been since then.
(In response to W Daily Post on Friends)
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