Saturday, April 30, 2016


Je me souviens ...

My teenage daughter used to really like French.

My husband and I have both been known to butcher said beautiful romance language. (At a hotel on the Riviera, my spouse once told the concierge that the car left its key in our room  but, comme toujours, he made up for what he lacked in grammar with his enthusiasm.) When my daughter was little, we used French when we didn't want her to know what we were saying. She was particularly gleeful when her own studies (in eighth grade or so) surpassed our sorry attempts. 

So much for our secret language.

My daughter enjoyed middle school French. She certainly enjoyed our mother-daughter trip to Paris. We visited Sacre Couer and the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Versailles (my favorite) and the Catacombs (hers).

We took a late night boat ride along the Seine,
ate crepes and croissants, and my daughter conducted a thorough if not exactly scientific taste test of all the onion soup gratinée of the city. Throughout, we gamely exercised our skills françaises.
But, some time later in high school, between French 3 and French 4, la perle lost its sheen. There was a tremendous jump between the expectations of those two levels. They went from taking vocabulary tests (my daughter has always been a crack memorizer) to reading entire novels and doing oral presentations in class (not her favorite thing, regardless of the language). 

She qualified for AP French but responded with a definitive, "Non, merci."

Those weren't her exact words, but you get the general purpose and intent.

In just a few months (mon dieu!), she'll head off to college. Although she has already declared her Equine Business major, she is enrolled in a liberal arts curriculum and is expected to fulfill a language requirement. This generated some dinner table discussion.

I suggested that she return to French, ensuring her that, as I found at my own alma mater, college courses would be much better than high school.

My husband also suggested that she return to French, with the helpful hint that if she dropped down a couple of levels, it would be very easy to score an "A."

My daughter had a different idea. 

"I'm going to take American Sign Language," she told us.


This was a different (and completely valid it turns out) solution. In fact, it may even come in very handy because I'm hoping that along with her Equine Business courses, she'll take some classes in Therapeutic Riding. Horses and horsemanship have proven very beneficial for riders with all sorts of disabilities and impairments. How amazing it would be if all of her interests and academic pursuits converged into something so special and important.

Then again, maybe it's just a creative solution to get out of a foreign language requirement.

Either way, it's her choice, n'est-ce pas?

Bien sûr.
If you've enjoyed this post, I invite you to order the book Lovin' the Alien here.   

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