Monday, September 12, 2011

The Good Waves

In several ways, today felt like the first official day of my life in Paris.  I started French school today, Baby Oil had his first day with the nanny, and we went to our new French pediatrician. 

I was unexpectedly excited when I got on the bus this morning to go to school. It felt good to be out during rush hour without the baby, and I love school. Yes, I'm that cool.  So I get to Alliance Francaise, pick up my student card with my class assignment, find the room, and take my seat.  About five minutes later, a woman comes in to explain that the professor is sick so there will be no class today.  And we will be reimbursed for the cost of today's lesson.

Hold up. I hired a nanny, so darn it, I was going to have a French class today.  I headed back to the front desk, explained that I wanted to go to class today.  I'm sorry, the woman told me politely. There is no teacher. And no other class with room for another student.  Then I explained, slightly more emphatically, that I was paying someone to watch my child so I could learn French today, and I either a) wanted a class today, or b) wanted a make-up class, not a reimbursement. 

She then explained politely that they cannot allow a make-up class because their computer system does not allow for that.  So you can pay me back for one day of class, but you can't let me sit in on one extra class?  Oh French logic.  Dejected, I left the reception desk to call Mr. Oil.  He instructed me to stand my ground and demand to be taught French today (because, naturally, I was going to learn the entire language in this one day). 

I marched back in, half-terrified and half-super impressed with myself, and said, "I want to speak with someone else!"  The woman shrugged her shoulders and said, Fine.  I found another woman, explained my situation, and she said, Didn't my colleague already help you?  Yes, I said, but I did not like her explanation.  It's possible I got a little loud and frustrated.  She finally relents and says, wait a moment.  Returning a few minutes later, she explains they have moved me to another class, this is not a problem, and I should proceed to my new classroom.

Finally ready to learn some French, I found my new classroom and shyly entered, feeling bad about being the add-on and being late.  Ah!, my French teacher exclaimed, our lost student!  Turns out I was on the list for this class the WHOLE TIME.  They had sent me to the WRONG class to begin with.  Yeah.  Turns out that in Paris, a little yelling will get you exactly what you should have gotten but without an apology from anyone.

This afternoon, I took Baby Oil to his first French doctor's appointment.  I had no idea what to expect.  Certainly I did not expect that when I rang the buzzer to be let in, that the doctor himself would greet us, show us to the waiting room, and then escort us for our appointment to his office. Which is also his examining room.  He was friendly and charming, taking time to chat and get to know us, and then examined Baby Oil (practically perfect in every way, of course).

But this doctor found a permanent place in my heart when, after pronouncing Baby Oil healthy and normal, he went on to say (and really, I could not make this up) that I am an excellent mother, that I have instilled in my baby an unusual amount of confidence and security, that I give off "the good waves", and that my husband must feel that coming home to me every night is like coming home to his own personal therapist (yes darling, I am a constant source of serenity for you).  He then instructed me to tell my husband this, keep up the good work, and come back in a few months.

(Please note: as I write this, Mr. Oil is basking in my good waves by attempting to measure the size of our French mattress with an 8.5x11 piece of paper, then convert that precise measurement into centimeters in order to purchase new sheets.  He may well need a therapy session when this is over.)