The girls brought home a notice from school today announcing the school's annual holiday buffet. The form required a sign-up and signature. With Soren out of town, I had to rely on my friend, Google Translate, to understand what, exactly, I am signing up for. I have cut and pasted the English translation here just as it was presented to me:
Grand Buffet Christmas 2010 al 'Ecole de la Rue des Vertus
are celebrating the year 2010 in this all together around a large buffet which we all bring our contribution
A buffet will be reserved for children in the school canteen and open to all under the Pleasance (dishes from all regions and all countries are welcome)
thank you to all parent volunteers.
This ticket serves as a reservation
for lunch just to make the choice
a sweet dish
we will be ................... accompanying persons:
if you can not bring your child, he is welcome until 20h, under the responsibility of another adult.
you can then pick it up at 20h later, or someone drive by the adult to whom you will entrust the responsiblity
person coming to collect the child :........
Um, yea. Google Translate can't be relied upon fully as you can see. I am unclear- is the food for the children only? Or do the children eat in the cafeteria and the parents eat somewhere else on school grounds? Is this a lunch meal or a dinner meal? A dinner meal at 6:30 p.m. is early for the French, but that time of day is also way too late for lunch. So what's with Google Translate calling this lunch?
Do I really get to bring a dirty dish if I want to? That's even easier than signing up for napkins or paper plates (my standard easy-way-out back home). At least I don't need to go to the store to purchase anything, I'll just wash one less dish that day and my contribution will be ready to go. Or, maybe I'll just bring cheese. Will a can of Cheese Whiz suffice? That's considered, by some at least, to be very Americana. I know right where to buy it too- our neighborhood has an American food store called 'Thanksgiving' and they sell that stuff along with Lucky Charms, Kraft Mac-n-Cheese, Pop Tarts, and Spam. Hey- maybe I'll bring a huge variety of all that stuff and really wow them with the gourmet offerings of America.
But first, I need to dig deep and gather up all the courage I can muster to attend this event. My wing man is absent, working long hours traversing the U.S.A this past week so he cannot be my safety net for this occasion. The one English speaking parent that I have met (who is American, but has lived in Europe for 20+ years and is fluent in French, on the PTA, and knows everyone) is very nice, but I don't even know if she will be at this event. At the end of every school day, like back home, I stand in front of the school, waiting for the bell to ring and for Raelyn and Nola to emerge so that I can take them home. However, unlike back home, I stand alone, silent, and wondering what the other parents are conversing about as they wait for their children to emerge. It is a lonely part of my day, the part that makes me long for the friends, familiarities, conversations, and comforts of home.
So it is with trepidation that I consider this annual school buffet. I am doing my best to convince myself that role modeling courage is the least I owe my girls since we have asked them to move out of their comfort zone in so many ways these past several months now. I keep telling myself, "Self, what's the worst that can happen? You'll stand alone mostly, feeling uncomfortable for a couple hours, eating free food, while your daughters have a good time with their friends. That's what this is about- them, not you Self. Just deal!"
Maybe, as the notice states, I can find another adult to be responsible for the girls and I can bow out. Perhaps the homeless man on our street would like to go? It's a win-win for him- he'll receive a babysitting fee from me and have access to all sorts of food at the buffet. I can tell that I am really nervous about this event because this idea is sounding too good right now.