Sunday, 17 July 2016

Feeling European

It's the final days of having a Spanish and French student in Poppy Cottage, and the hobbit house will soon to return to a teenage-boy-less zone.

For most of the stay, I've had a rotten head cold, that thankfully no one else in the house has caught. A few days into the visit, I caught my thumb in a door, which was excruciatingly painful and made simple things like starting the car and preparing food difficult.  Had it been just myself and the children here, we probably would have lived on breakfast cereal.

I've already discussed feeding the students in a previous blog.  It's only in the last week that I realised though, how much they all love drinking the milk here.  Apparently the milk in both France and Spain isn't a patch on ours.  I can't buy enough of the stuff.

Getting two extra people up and out in the morning has been a little stressful.  Most mornings, I am standing at the back door jingling keys, with my eye on the clock and sweat on my brow.  All being well, I have dropped off my children for the morning and the students for the day and am sitting at my work desk with a cuppa by 9.20am.  My employer gets great value out of me as I pack a full days work into the morning, before dashing back for a 2pm pick up with the children.  I've used the two hour window before the students arrive home to prepare for 'Back to School'.  No here this year.  The Spaniard noticed that I 'shop a lot'.  I laugh.  If only it was for the fun stuff.

The weather, in case you haven't noticed, has been completely pants.  All of my recent slaving in the garden was undone, as the humidity encouraged jungle-like scenes to develop. On top of that, my lawnmower gave up the ghost.  Apparently it just needed a minor adjustment.  Mr Lawnmower Man didn't even charge me for fixing in, but had the machine for 10 days, while my 'football pitch', as the Spaniard called it, grew out of control.   I try to compensate for my overgrown sporting facilities, telling him that the luscious grass is what makes our milk taste so delicious.

The washing machine, in solidarity with the lawnmower, also packed in the other day.  Fan-bloody-tastic.  I was extremely thankful though that I, at least, hadn't given away my previously unused tumble drier, which has been working overtime in the last few weeks. It doesn't know what's hit it.

Speaking of washing, last week, my neighbour's student came to my house for dinner, before a 7pm disco.  There was a great sense of excitement in the house, the shower was on overdrive and there was no sparing on the deodorant.  The student stood before me with his socks.  'Will you wash these for me for tonight please?'.  'Tonight' was now 90 minutes away.  My Domestic Goddess had been maxed out for the day and I say no.  I offered to give him a pair of mine instead.  He's not impressed. I ask if he would like an individually wrapped Cadbury's chocolate mini roll.  He asks if I have something else with caramel.

I spent the first week of the stay fretting over an interview for a job, something that was advertised with an extremely short deadline.  I slapped in an application at the last minute and was notified of interview a few days later.  It's been YEARS since I went for an interview.  This one required a three minute presentation.  I thought about it and researched for a few days, all while getting used to the presence of teenagers in the house.  I wrote my (not half-bad, even if I say so myself) presentation, complete with a nice range of left-of-centre images, all timed to 3 minutes flat. Almost as soon as I had it complete, I decided not to attend for interview after all.  My heart wasn't in it and doing an interview for 'the experience' just wasn't my thing.  So, if any of you out there need a presentation on Arts Participation, I've got one going a beggin'.

In the middle of all of this, I've managed to get delicious slices of  'me-time', including a mad dash to the Galway Film Fleadh on a Saturday.  A manic five-hour round trip, I managed to see the premiere of 'Revolutions: A Roller Derby Story', directed by Laura Mc Gann, had catch ups and networked like you wouldn't believe.  A few snatched hours in Kildare Village, shopping for me, 'a little' and a luxuriously long lunch for one.  I happened across an Irish food promotion and has Presseco and cake for dessert. It's the little things, isn't it?

My dog is delighted with the rare scraps of meat in a usually veggie-only household.  My children love learning elaborate handshakes and the stamp of approval for their new branded sports gear.  'Just Do It' is the new catch phrase in the house.  Oddly, the setting on my Facebook page have changed to Spanish, all by themselves.  Having a good 'Wiffy' connection here has been has a big bonus for both boys.  

Then there was the unimaginable attack on Bastille Day in Nice.  I worried about discussing it with my students the following morning, as the true extent of it unfolded.  They took the news better than I expected.  Neither of them knew anyone involved and I guess that teenagers world's is quite insular. And maybe, there's an element of becoming desensitised by it all.  I worry that my own children will come to regard this sort of thing as 'normal'.  Nonetheless, I was glad that the students, led by the school principal, had an opportunity to discuss it together in school that day.  After the attack, the fallout of Brexit and the more recent coup in Turkey, I will fret until I know that both of my students catch their flights and get through airports safely.   I imagine that all Irish families who have had European students this summer will feel an enhanced connection, and solidarity with our European neighbours after what has happened,  during our watch.  It's hard to know what to say after that.

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