It's been a while since I've posted anything (I know, not news to you). Maybe this time I'm posting for myself as much as anything else. It's a big week here, though...it's when we send Carson to France for three weeks.
There, I said it. Wow. It hardly seems possible.
Oh, the logistics of it are possible all right: he will depart this coming Saturday at 2:00, arrive the next morning in Paris, take a bus with his fellow travelers to the city of Amiens, and be greeted with a group lunch and his host family. He has a passport, a big suitcase, some electronics, books, and snacks, and a journal to write about his experience.
And it's possible also because of the awesome school he and Cooper attend. They've facilitated these exchanges many times to France, Costa Rica, and most recently Madrid. His chaperone is someone who has taken groups of Fifth Graders to France many times: she's organized, specific about what she expects from the kids, and she's a mom.
The "hardly seems possible" comes in when I consider that I'm good with all that. It's been a process, don't get me wrong. When he started at this school in Kindergarten, I heard about the French Exchange and it felt scary: I mean, c'mon, Carson was SIX. I couldn't imagine for a minute putting my baby on a plane without me. And letting him stay with strangers for three weeks, in a foreign country.
Then over the years my "baby" started hearing snippets at school about the exchange. I think I must have asked him a thousand times since 2009: "Carson, would you want to go on the exchange?" I was tempted to start fabricating horror stories about kids who wailed for days when they got over there, how French food is really horrible, and no soccer balls are allowed in France.
But I resisted, and I heard wonderful things about the experience, from both kids and parents. The kids get to go to school, tour Paris and other amazing sites, and use their French language skills for three weeks solid. And they come back with a new appreciation for their international counterparts. Their global horizon is broadened. There's emotional growth and they become more responsible.
And every single time I asked him if he wanted to go, he always said yes. Without hesitation.
But hey, just because my kid wants to do something doesn't me we always say yes (soccer, golf, and basketball notwithstanding). I also think Carson's mature enough to handle it. He's comfortable meeting new people, he can handle social situations, and he is responsible with his belongings. And he's done a little air travel so that's not an issue. He has closed all the loopholes!
So now the possibility has become reality: he's going. I'm letting him. I'm going to miss him terribly. I'm going to Skype him and email him. I'm going to cry when he leaves for so many reasons.
I'm also going to spoil Cooper for three weeks.
His host family:
Please tell Carson that I am so excited for him and I think he is going to have the best time ever. Take something cool that reminds you of home just in case you get homesick. And give your Mom lots of hugs every day before you leave. I can't wait to hear all about it! Love you, Carson.
The journal is a great idea! Not sure if it's required or not, but tell Carson to make sure he is as detailed as possible in it. We were required to keep one when I went to Cambridge a few summers back. Just last week I pulled it out for the first time since and it was crazy how many good memories I had forgotten about. It will be nice to look back on for the rest of his life! Also, will Cooper be taking over Clash of Clan duties during the 3 weeks?
He's going to have so much fun! Let him know that he needs to eat as many crepes and macarons as possible. I'm assuming you're sending him with a camera? Take lots of pictures! That's the best way to tell the stories when he gets home and he will treasure those forever. Also. Moms always want pictures of their children, not just the scenery. I'll be praying for him as he adventures and for the Rury fam as you send him off!
Maybe you should journal, too, Christine. Things he tells you on Skype, he may not journal. Also, tell him if he gets too busy/tired to write good sentences, lists are good, too. (1. Tried escargot. 2. Spit it out. 3. Got lost. 4. Just kidding.)Tell him his old aunt survived two months of total immersion in Germany, escargot included, and had a great time. Don't tell him I wasn't a sixth grader...
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