Monday, June 16, 2008

L'âne et le chèvre...

I helped out in the littlest lady's petite section class the other day when they went on an excursion to see the donkey and the goat that live in the center of the village.
Who knew that a 5-minute walk with 26 3-4 year olds could take 25 minutes? Our calm village road became a treacherous obstacle course for the children as they tried to remember to stay in line, hold their partner's hand, and stay on the sidewalk.
Meanwhile, I tried to remember the names of the kids in the class to shout out at the appropriate times, 'Faustine, watch where you're going!', 'Quentin, no pushing!', 'Leopold, take Solange's hand!', etc. My memories of learning command tenses in French class came back quite easily, except I didn't have to use the commands I'd been taught back then by a cynical French teacher, like 'Laissez-moi tranquil!' and 'Ne me touchez pas!'.
I couldn't help but think how different this excursion would have been had we'd been in the States. Permission slips would have had to have been signed and the venue vetted beforehand. I'm sure the donkey and the goat would have had to have had their police records checked too.
The chaos at the actual site was a lawsuit waiting to happen. The goat broke free quite early on, and proceeded to run around the group of children being chased by the owner's dog. I seemed to be the only one imagining the goat spiking up one of the children with its little horns. Everyone else seemed oblivious to the inherent danger of the donkey stampeding the little gaggle of pre-schoolers.
As the goat, named Noisette, charged around under the olive trees, the kids took turns feeding stale baguette ends to Nanette, the donkey. While the children waited for their turn, they discovered a rickety plastic slide in the garden and took turns throwing themselves down it, sometimes 2 at a time.
At the point where I was weighing up which was the most dangerous activity between the charging goat, the kicking donkey, and the swaying tower of plastic pleasure, Leopold announced he had to go pee pee, and was taken off to a corner of the garden to do his thing by one of the teachers. They teach them young to pee on the side of the road here.
We made it back to school just before the end of the morning session, and as I watched the kids rush into the arms of their unsuspecting parents, full of tales of Noisette and Nanette, I couldn't help thinking that this was all part of the reason I love raising my children here. They are loved and cherished by society, but not swathed in bubble wrap. And while this makes for some anxious moments, I do appreciate the way they are allowed to behave as children, without too many rules and restrictions. They'll have plenty of those to deal with later in life...

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