This week did not start off well. Sunday morning was terrible. Writing about it now, it doesn't sound like that big of a deal, but in the moment it was just one of those everything-going-wrong kind of mornings. My normal RER was not running, which meant I had to take a train way out of the way to get to church. I left the house as the first service was starting, and a couple delayed trains and a long bus ride later (never riding the bus again), I arrived 20 minutes late for the second service. On the way to church, I was stopped by the Metro controllers and got fined €33 on the spot for not having my picture on my Navigo pass. I knew this was something I needed to do, but I didn't know how to or where to do that. Turns out, there are little photo kiosks in every metro station, and it costs only €5 to get a set of 5 photos. How I missed these booths, I'll never know. Needless to say, I have my photo on my Navigo now. On top of that, the stress of still not having renters for my house, and some other things just compounded into one sucky morning. I ended up hanging out with friends later that day, so that was fun. Plus, my friend's husband was able to get the SIM card my host family gave me working on my phone. Finally back to my Galaxy. The only weird thing is that I can receive texts but not send them. Still need to figure that out.
As far as how things have been in the house, they have been much better. My host mom had read my last blog post, and asked to talk to me about it. She was really great about it, and we had a good talk, and since then things have been 100% better. The thing is though, I realize now that most of the problem was my perception of the situation. Whoever said "perception is reality" is totally wrong. My perception of how things were going was not at all the reality of the situation. While my host mom did talk to G about being more understanding in terms of my inability to communicate in French, the fact of the matter is I somehow just didn't stop to think about a few things. First, I know he loved his last au pair, and when the family told me this on my first day, I thought she had done something to get G to like her that I was just incapable of doing. But during my chat with my host mom, I'll call her C, she told me that the last au pair started exactly where I did. She had to build that bond with him over time, and he was the same way with her. The second thing is that, as C stated, G is acting no different than any other 8 year old in the world. And she's right. He's a normal 8 year old boy that is going to like me and not like me sometimes. As I went back to my room that night, I felt kind of dumb for not connecting these dots. Maybe it was just me being all over the place and being a bit culture-shocked, but still...I should have just realized that these things take time. I also think that I've been a bit shy around the family. Some people may not realize I have a shy side, but I do, and when the family is sitting around the table, my first instinct is not to walk in and join them, but to go to my room. C told me that this is not what they want, and that I am always welcome and that they want me to interact with them more. So I've made more of an effort to step out of my comfort zone and do just that. I started to wake up early enough that I can have my morning coffee while G is eating breakfast. It's pretty silent right now since he is a) not a morning person just like me and b) the language barrier. But I'm hoping the language clicks with me soon, and I can have something to chat with him about.
Some of my au pair friends that I've made have had such horrible placements. One already switched families, and the other is trying to get out of her situation. It made me realize how fortunate I am to be with the family I have. And with G, a few things I've noticed and I'm going to make a prediction right now. He is a great soccer player, and I'm willing to bet that he is going to be a pro player one day for Barcelona (I asked who he wanted to play for), will be famous for his amazing hair, and he is going to be a heartbreaker. I've noticed when I take him or pick him up from school that he a leader among his peers and the guy all the girls flock to. I laughed so hard one day because I showed up to pick him up, and there were a couple of girls hanging on his arms. When we left, I used my translate app to write that all the girls seem to like him. As he paused to read it, he got this cute grin on his face, then shrugged his shoulders like "what can I say?" It was so funny. He's been better with me too, and one thing we've started to do together is drawing. He came in my room late night while I was studying for my test and just started drawing pictures on my spare notecards.
Other than things at home, I've also gotten used to a few other things. The French "bise" greeting of a kiss on each cheek threw me off for about a week. I knew it was a thing before I came, but when you are conditioned your entire life to shake someone's hand, it resulted in an awkward pause the first few times it happened. Now, I expect it so it's not a big deal. Another thing I've noticed (and even brought up to someone else who agreed because it was freaking me out) is that I'm convinced the friends and family I have in America all have a doppleganger walking the streets of Paris. I've seen probably a dozen strangers that could pass as the twin, or at least the sibling, of someone I know in the U.S. It's caused me to double and sometimes triple take a look at a random person. They also have pink toilet paper in the house. Apparently, you can get a variety of colors, and I'm not looking forward to only having the boring white selections when I return to the States. haha
The biggest hurdle I've encountered this week has got to be the RER. As I wrote previously, I do feel like a pro at using the railway systems. But one thing I have not gotten used to, and it goes against every fiber of my being, is being late for things when the trains are delayed (and they are delayed a lot). I'm probably about 20-30 minutes late for class every day. Even today, G had a field trip so I had to take him to school 20 minutes early. "Sweet!" I thought, I can be on time for class today! Well...that didn't happen. I got to the station in my town at 8:10, and stood there for 30 minutes as the 4 upcoming trains were all delayed. It only took a total of 40 minutes to get to class, but I was still 20 minutes late. My teacher is totally understanding, but anyone who knows me at all knows how punctual I am, and this has been the biggest adjustment for me to make. Normally, I don't mind the commute times because I don't often have somewhere to be at a specific time. The exception is going to class, or meeting friends at a specific time. I can easily spend an hour each way (or longer) on the RER and Metro with the multiple changes I have to make. Maybe most people here are used to delayed trains and long commutes. Or maybe I've found the reason so many Parisians are chain smokers? After braving the metro each day during rush hour, I can hardly blame them.
That's about all the updates I have. Next week, G has 2 weeks off of school. I will have him for the first week all day, and I have some plans for some outings to the movies or to the park planned. The second week, he will be on vacation with his family in Bordeaux, and I'm headed to London for a long weekend to visit my family friend Kate that I haven't seen in almost 19 years exactly. I'm pretty excited for that.