Wednesday, December 02, 2009

How do you say "gentlemen, start your engines" in French?

Today was a big day.

Today I overcame fear, dread and six years of dithering and finally did it: I enrolled in a driving school. It will cost a lot of money, and it will be more than a simple formality -- the French driving test is notoriously tricky and I have barely been behind the wheel in almost five years -- but it shouldn't be insurmountable. With a little perseverance and a lot of parallel parking practice, I will hopefully be once again licensed to drive in around six months.

Today I also endured the five-hour ordeal of getting le Petit vaccinated against the H1N1 flu. We waited two hours (2!) outside in the cold on the sidewalk, and over two more hours (2! More!) inside the local PMI children's heath center. The staff were overwhelmed and doing the best they could, given they it was the first day the vaccine was locally available to children and they were the only center open (and only on Wednesdays) for the entire town.

Le Petit was extraordinarily patient, in part thanks to the bright idea I had to pull out my MP3 player. I have several albums of children's music stored on it, leftover from the plane trip to Seattle. Never again will I complain when "La pêche aux moules" or "Ainsi font font font" comes on during a jog between Dave Matthew and Stone Temple Pilots: I never know when it might save my hide.

I was impressed by everyone's generosity and good humor in such a difficult situation. Parents laughed together, passed around boxes of cookies for the kids, shared books and toys, and generally did their best to look out for one another. Le Petit was "adopted" by two little girls, probably around 6 and 8 years old, who were in line just in front of us and spent much of their time playing with and "mothering" him. When we finally made it inside the building and le Petit collapsed into fearful tears upon entering a new, crowded space, the two little girls rushed up, consoled and distracted him with a new toy. I was grateful.

We have to go back for the second injection in three weeks. Here's hoping the governmental powers-that-be will have smoothed out the process by then.


Mamanesq said...

My daughter loves "ainsi font" too!

paola said...

Getting my Italian Driver's License was literally my ticket to independence. We live in a small town outside Milan and a license is paramount. With the kids and work, I'd be isolated and housebound without it. I

I also became literate as I couldn't read Italian properly and studying for the written exam actully forced me to learn. This alone made it worth the enormous effort a million times over.

I'm not sure what I'll do about vaccinating my kids against the H1N1. Here in Italy there has been so much conflicting information about the vaccine and so many unanswered questions. I mean what are the real chances of a mutation causing a much more aggressive virus? How safe is the vaccine? Who really benefits from all this vaccincation (us of the pharmaceutical companies)? I'm really in two minds about it. What made you vaccinate le Petit?

caramama said...

I love it when parents and kids have a "we're in it together" attitude like that. I always try to foster that by sharing any snacks or toys or just playing peekaboo with kids while we are waiting for something. Makes life so much easier when we help each other.