Thursday, August 15, 2013

La Méchante Reine

School starts again in less than three weeks. Tenth grade, sophomore year. My daughter is not exactly happy about it. And, when I say 'not exactly happy,' what I really mean is miserable. Yes, she's miserable. Mis-er-a-ble. Think of the little urchin on the Les Misérables poster. 

You get the picture.

Anticipating another year would be bad enough. Mais non, our smug suburban overachieving little high school has to add insult to injury by assigning beaucoup de summer homework. My daughter has assignments (long, tough, "b-o-r-i-n-g" assignments) for three of her eight courses, all of which will be tested on the first day of class. 

Sacré bleu!

This means that my own summer is officially over. Fini! I've put away the sundresses, shorts and tank tops, flip flops and floppy hats. It's time to pull out my long hooded cape, bejeweled crown and eye liner. Time, once again, to become ... the evil queen.

I wish I had one of those teenagers who dove into her work with nary a nudge. Alas, I do not. Very quickly all my hinting becomes requesting becomes nagging becomes shrieking on the order of a classic Disney villainess. 

The first order of business is her packet for Honors French 3. And while doing the work is not negotiable, I have to admit (at least here, if not to her) that it's très stupide. She has spent the last two evenings conjugating verbs — 70 so far and counting. If you ask moi, this rote task seems pretty ... well ... rote. The goal is to learn a language, n'est-ce pas? Not to make endless lists.

How is this going to help her in real life? What if she gets helicoptered in to moderate a peace talk at the United Nations? Or she has to order a croissant on the Rue Rivoli? Je ne comprends pas! Why don't they teach them any really important things, things they might need if they actually go to France, things like how to say ...

"Où est la maison de Johnny Depp?"

"Puis-je obtenir à prix réduit de l'année dernière de Chanel?"

Or "Un autre verre de vin blanc, s'il vous plaît."

Nevertheless, mine is not to reason why. My job is to enforce the rules and convince my reluctant student to study even though she would rather be doing pretty much anything else. At the rate she's going, the French packet should be fini this weekend. And then all we have to worry about is a 30-page chapter for AP World History and the novel Dracula.

Mon dieu. Un autre verre de vin blanc, s'il vous plait!

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