The (Not So) Small One is in Paris this weekend. For a school trip which has involved at least twenty packings and repackings of the pink suitcase; along with a Parents Information Evening, a barrage of emails and more form filling than any sane mother needs. It wasn't like that when I went to Paris.
When I went to Paris, at the age of fourteen, I set out with one school friend to join up with a party of teenagers we didn't know; and a teacher none of us had ever met. I had only the name and address of the French family I was to be staying with, a phrase book and enough French Francs to (just about) last me the fortnight. It could have been hell; but it turned out to be closer to heaven.
We stayed In Chartres and our base was a cloistered school right next to the cathedral. I leaned how to love Brie and how to enjoy dressing on my salad. How to fry frites in goose fat and how to snack on chocolate wrapped in bread. I spent an afternoon sitting in on classes at a Lycee and an evening swapping stories with the Girl Guides. We took grammar lessons in the mornings and outings in the afternoons; and every night we went home to our "families" and tried to make ourselves understood.
It frightens me a bit to think of it now, if I'm honest. How did I dare? With the support, I suppose, of a mother who gave me a push and trusted me to get on and make as much as I could out of the opportunity I'd been given. We had no form filling, no safety analysis, no waivers, no handholding. Was that a good thing? I don't know. I guess there must be a happy middle ground. Somewhere in between. But I hope The (Not So) Small One, with all those forms filled in, gets a chance to stretch herself and discover just how much she really does know.
And that seems like a good place to end for today and remind you that it's Storytelling Sunday next week. I think I'll be trying a photo and a story-in-a-couple-of-sentences this time round. You could use a 365 photo if you like; but all kinds of stories are, as always, very welcome.