Our children were amazing in the way they adapted to life in the celebrated “Lycée International” on the outskirts of Paris. It was not easy for any of us, but especially for them. In the UK they had been attending small village schools. In France, they all went to one with over 1000 pupils aged from 5 to 20 from 9 different countries! It was a shock to the system for all of us.
The first year of any non-French speaker in this school was spent in a special French class. This class aimed to make each child bilingual long before the end of the year. All three of our children loved it but found it very tiring. That wasn’t just they effort they had to make, but also the fact that school was from 9-5, a long day compared with UK. Added to that there was a 45 minute bus ride in each direction!! That meant very early mornings, and disciplined evenings when homework had to be done!
At the end of the first year, they all succeeded in being bilingual, something none of them have regretted. And they all speak at least one other language as well, a blessing for which we give thanks to our faithful Heavenly Father as well as to the school.
But as our daughter Roslyn continued with the heavy curriculum (at least 6 subjects through to Baccalaureate level) she got more and more depressed, knowing that things would be easier in UK doing A-levels and also that she wouldn’t have to continue with maths! It had never been her favourite subject although she didn’t find it too difficult, the problem was more that she just didn’t enjoy it. Many evenings she would end up in tears as we tried to coax her to continue. We didn’t see any alternative to her staying the course.
Going back to school in the UK seemed out of the question. Her grandparents were ageing, and as we thought of friends and other relatives, nothing seemed right somehow. Although we got on well with all of them, (still do!) we were no longer the same people we had been when we lived in the north of England. Our first year in France had changed all of us, especially in our relationships with Jesus, and the type of church we attended. We had several discussions about the choices, and there didn’t seem to be too many.
But God had a plan! In the half term holiday at the end of November, our second year in France, we went to England to visit friends, and relatives. Our first stop was with some friends we had met through the English church on our arrival in France. They had become very close and we were sad (for ourselves, not for them), when God moved them back to England in a similar way to the way He had moved us to France. We had much to share those first days when we met up in their home near Cambridge.
During one of our conversations I was telling Diane about our worries over Ros. Suddenly Diane said “But why doesn’t she come here? Just this morning I was vacuuming and complaining to God that He had given us a house that was too big!” Well of course He hadn’t, and Ros was the first of many long-term guests who stayed with them.
Back to school in the UK
The following day we visited the local 6th form college. They were happy to accept our daughter to do A-levels. They were confident that she would catch up the few weeks she had missed since the beginning of the term. So having gone to UK for a week’s holiday, Roslyn didn’t come home again until Christmas! She never had a single regret about that dramatic change, did well in her A-levels and went on to university, not coming home again to live permanently for another 4 years.