Last week was the start of the trials and tribulations, but I am happy to report this job has finally leveled out to the expected ups and downs.
On Monday, I was actually able to tell a joke…in French. Can we say personality breakthrough in a foreign language? I made three people laugh, mind you they were three 7-year-olds who may have been laughing at me instead of with me, but that is not the point. Thing is, I am finally driving on my own and it is very hazardous—I am constantly making fun of myself for my near accidents and goofball mistakes, but have not known how to verbally express this. My studying must be paying off because I was finally able to blurt out, “Je ne conduit pas mais, je conduit pas!” (translation: I can’t drive, but I drive!”) By no means is this the way I would normally speak, but the girls burst out with laughter which made me feel Frencherific.
On Tuesday, I had a trampoline photo shoot with Cassie and then got the kids plus their friends together to do a paper mache project, which is on its way to becoming Easter bunny heads for holiday decor. We will begin the home decorating process today.
On Wednesday, we went down to the harbor to take pictures of the waves that had frozen to the shore, which was gorgeous. I got a better glimpse of Lilly’s personality—very independent, self-amused and curious. And Cassie, well I discovered she actually gets cold. According to the amount of time she likes to spend on the trampoline (in which I must attend), I did not think she had a cold drop of blood in her body!
I also made my very first authentic French cuisine, Tartiflette. I was a bit nervous as I began the project (this is what the idea of cooking becomes for me). Audrey shouted out the ingredients on her way out the door and said to just throw them together. She would make it sound so easy, but as a matter of fact, it is just that easy. And thank goodness for Google. The outcome was a bit dry because I did not use enough cheese and forgot to add the crème fraiche condiment versus the one for cooking, but overall, VOILA!
In Switzerland, Elementary students do not have school on Wednesday and this is when my Swiss kids go to English school for a few hours. While helping Eliot with his English homework, I realized how difficult it is to spell English words compared to French versus English being easier to read than French.
I have had some extra intensive chats with Audrey this week about my life, her life and all the in between. I found out she met her husband on a cruise in Russia when she was 19—they were together for nine years before having their first child, Eliot. She is a constant dreamer—currently, she wants to open a little store of many sorts. She talks of their house in the Bahamas and their house in Paris (which, because they cannot sell it, has downgraded their lifestyle and this is hard to cope with). In Europe, you cannot have your house on the market to sell if it is under a renter’s lease, so due to the poor seller’s market, they are stuck with renting it for less than it’s worth. I actually really like Audrey and could be friends with her even outside of this job, but the job does change things.
The other day, Audrey asked me what my expectations were when becoming an au pair and the obvious came to mind—learn a new language, absorb culture and travel Switzerland. I was thinking of the kids, but I never considered that we would have a problem because kids have always loved me (ego aside, they really have). Then I considered my experience with kids—lifeguard, swimming instructor, the favorite older cousin or the guest in the house—I guess I subconsciously expected to be liked the same way my swimming students, my little cousins or even little Otis and Elle do. They always get so excited to see me like I am the best part of their day. But to my kids, I am just another au pair, no different from the last. I know it will change with time, but I need to find a way to make them realize that I am in this for the long hull.
As for the weekend, I finally get to go meet up with my best friend, Lauren, in Interlaken (yes, Interlaken again). She is working on a competition horse ranch in Cham, Switzerland. If you’re in the mood for some serious laughter then follow her blog here. We are both in need of some good old fashioned girl talk, venting and never-ending vino. But, before that, I will be meeting a girl here in Geneva for a coffee and, if things go well, may possibly hop on the train with her to head to Lausanne where her boyfriend lives for some drinks and good night out…