So, I gotta tell you about our Jeune Fille and how the whole 3 week exchange thing went down.
First, here's the makeover I did on Small Boy's bedroom.
Despite the passive aggressive resistance, I actually think he quite likes it.
Here's the girls from the BA's school waiting anxiously at the airport before the Frog contingent arrived. Most of these girls will be going back to France in the Christmas holidays this year.
Everything was good for the first week, although getting up in the morning was not her strong suite and her English was seriously worse than my French!!!!
We had been given a list of instructions and advice as 'host' parents and one of the things we had been told was to expect homesickness. We were also advised to give them access to the net to email home etc but not to allow them to spend too much time on the computer. Well, when our JF arrived, she came with her own iphone. Himself naturally hooked her up to our wireless network. Mistake number 1. She proceeded to spend inordinate amounts of time on facebook on her iphone and of course we had no control over that whatsoever!
Towards the end of the week I felt we were losing touch with her but we cheerfully hauled her off to a family Quiz night with a group of friends (including a friend of ours who is French) thinking it would be a cultural experience, a way to connect and a bit of fun all round.
Firstly, Himself, the notorious games hater did not really want to go.He had loads of work to do and was late in. I suggested he didn't come and he nearly took me up on it, but Small Boy wanted to go and so he came. When we got there, late as usual, it turned out the table bookings had been mucked up and there wasn't enough room on our table. This put Himself in an even worse mood. So, when my dear, but incredibly tactless (well, she is French), friend announced in French to La JF, not to get too excited about our impending trip to Kangaroo Island because it was boring and the food was rubbish, Himself just about exploded. La JF was witness to himself telling our friend to stick it where the sun don't shine and storming out. I'm not sure she really understood what it was all about but it had to be a bit uncomfortable for her.
Well, from there it went from bad to worse.
She spent a huge amount of time in her room. She didn't even attempt to speak to us in English. She wouldn't get up in the morning. She cut classes. She looked bored at everything we suggested. Poor old BA and I were stressed to the max. We were desperately trying to figure out where we were going wrong and coming up with ideas to try and engage her, to no avail."I don't think she thinks I'm cool enough," my beloved BA bemoaned.
"Sweetheart, we are what we are and we have no reason to be ashamed of that," was all I could offer as comfort. Pretty cold comfort for a 15 year old.
From what we could ascertain, La Jeune Fille had five main interests: surfing, sharks, boys, shopping and parties. Unfortunately, in southern Australia in the winter you only surf if you are really keen.; seeing a shark is usually a bad thing; the BA goes to an all girls school and, at 15, parties are something you have on your birthday!! I don't think we were what she had in mind when she embarked upon her visit..
Towards the middle of the second week, she emerged from her sulk long enough to type a request to attend two parties into the google translator. It was the first time I had seen her looking animated in days but as I made inquiries it became evident that the parties coincided with the weekend we had booked to go to Kangaroo Island. :-( Her face fell like a ton of lead. Quelle dilemma!!!!! I was really looking forward to our trip to the island and the last thing I wanted to take with us was a sulky teenager who wanted to be somewhere else!!!!
I will spare you the agonising and arguing that ensued. Himself figured that was the death knell on an already fated trip and wanted to call the whole thing off; but eventually I convinced him to try and delay our departure until the Saturday morning so she could go to the Friday party. Fortunately our friends on the island were kind enough to reschedule us. Then there was the problem of the BA. She had been invited to the party too, in a 'token' way which left her feeling very uncomfortable. She didn't know any of the other people going and didn't really want to attend. Thankfully, one of our fave bands, British India, was playing at The Gov on the same night so I organised to drop La JF at the party, take the BA and her friend to the gig and pick up La JF on the way home.
The following morning, whilst all these compromises and alternate arrangements were still being confirmed, La JF woke up with severe period pain. She moaned and groaned and sniffled all the way into school and I glanced sideways at the BA, rolled my eyes and mouthed 'Her misery is complete'. I escorted her to the Nurse's Station and interpreted for her as they applied heat bags and then left her curled up under 2 quilts listening to her ipod.
That night when I picked her up, she was the most cheerful and communicative she had ever been. She asked lots of questions about the BA and her social life and I used my high school French to explain that the BA did not go to clubs or have parties with her friends as she was only 15 and still a bit young. As we were chatting a huge lightbulb exploded over my head. I think our JF had been pre-menstrual! Imagine having PMT in a strange country with a strange family and very poor grasp of the language! Explained a lot.
When Friday came and we were set to drop her off at 'the party', she had a little panic attack and wanted to come with us to the gig!!! She didn't want to go inside until her (better English speaking) friend arrived and we ended up coaxing her out of the car and introducing her to the charming and caring mother of the house so we could get to the gig on time! Funny!
La Jeune Fille, in a rare smiling moment, briefly stops looking at her own facebook page long enough to look at....the BA's facebook page.
Speaking of the gig, here's a few shots.
This is not La Jeune Fille. And this is not British India.
Still, it's a better photo than the ones I DID get of British India ....
Aaaaaaanyway, things were still a bit marginal when we embarked on our trip to Kangaroo Island the following morning. We had to prise her out of bed and, despite the morning being so beautiful you could have framed it, she slept the whole way in the car and most of the way on the ferry.
And if you want to know how it went down on the island...stop by tomorrow! :-D