Saturday, November 3, 2007

La Neighboure

La Neighboure (spelled as such because the neighbour is a she and in French, you add an "e" at the end if you are talking about a tribute to French grammar!) is here this week. Her husband is in the French military and they have moved around this country over the years. The house they have here is their dream, it's their future, their place for when he retires from the army. It's a very old house dating back to the time of Louis XV, the late 1700s. They have worked incredibly hard to renovate the house and it's lovely having more voices and life in the village when they are here.

It's an odd relationship I have with her. She is very nice and friendly but I can't help but feel that she holds the opinion that we don't really belong here. That we don't really have roots here. Whereas in her case, her mother was from near the village, they have family in the cemetery, and probably the most difficult one, she's French and we are not.

I worry sometimes about how our children will cope with being strangers in their own land. Mini-Husband may have some connections to England but the Princess and Bubba-Love were both born here and have never lived anywhere but France. They are technically not French, but when The Princess speaks, it's with an Auvergnate accent.

The kids don't have a tooth fairy, they have the tooth mouse. They don't think Halloween is about any costume you want, it's about scary skeletons and ghosts. Dressing up is Carnival. They take their shoes off immediately when going into a friend's house and they expect "gouter" at 4pm. They have never lived with air-conditioning and expect a bite of baguette when we go grocery shopping. School is Monday and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Pate and vegetables are normal options at the cafeteria. It's Dora speaking French and English not English and Spanish. When they grow up, they want to have an appartment in Paris.

This is what they know. This is their life. How can I teach them to not let people like La Neighboure make them feel that they don't belong?

I'll admit that it hurts me when La Neighboure speaks to me sometimes, as if I'm not capable of understanding this world where I live. Not capable of being part of this village that has her family name in the cemetery.

The irony is that she is trying to become a teacher and hasn't been able to pass the exams. Her stumbling area: English.


Kelly said...

Ah, the irony of it all. Your kids are so lucky, Karen. I wouldn't think twice about it. They have already had such rich life experiences, ones that can't be dampened by the neighbore or anyone else.

And the Princess? I think she can hold her own. ("Your boots are not lovely!")

Dig said...

Thanks for that. Hubster contends that I'm being a little spiteful, but I think it's just that I'm sensitive, particularly when it comes to the kids. I'd hate it to be our fault for them to never feel "connected" or "accepted." Heck, I really like my neighboure and I really love her (and my kids') country! ;)

magali said...

Don't worry about the kids, they absolutely belong to the village.
And I'd say it's not because you are not french that the neighbours fell you don't belong there : after more than 15 years living and working there, my parents are still 'the strangers' in their village.
Belonging to a place is much more complex than having family in the graveyard: I found some cities I belong to where I had never set foot in before.
Connections can happen for so many reasons. And having a loving family is a perfect way to have solid roots !

Dig said...

Thank you Magali. You are wonderful!