The temperatures have finally begun to rise slightly, leading to the blooming of spring flowers. In general, the weather has been cloudy, rainy, and windy but that has not really dampened my mood. A great deal has been on my mind as I ponder how time has flown and how much has changed in the 6 months since we arrived in France. How my confidence has grown, how my understanding of French grammar has improved, and how overall my French has just begun to blossom… but even more stunning than my own growth… is Evangeline’s.

I have said it many times already, my daughter is very sociable and energetic. She is a magnet and people love her instantly. When we first got to France and I began seeing a massive shift in her behavior, for the worst… I seriously worried I made a horrible choice. Self-doubt and frustration set in and as the days grew shorter and the nights grew colder… so did my depression over the matter. It was not until around Christmas that a change began for us both. I managed to find a confidence I lacked during the first four months of us being here and Evangeline began understanding and being able to communicate. Now we are 2,5 months into 2018 and the change from that time period in us both has just been staggering.

Evangeline now has a confidence about her that I have not really seen before. She has always been social but now she just shines. On our way to her school last week on one of the rare sunny morning we had I was just hit by a wave of pride. Evangeline said “bonjour” to every person we passed which generally catches most people off guard. On top of that, she’s made quick friends with our neighbors during various elevator rides in our apartment. She is well known down at the nearby bakery we now frequent and they already know what she wants. Just tonight she used that knowledge of knowing and being known to get a free treat from said bakery… a first for her to be so bold, but that is actually not uncommon for her.

This last weekend we did an event called Tour du Monde where various groups set up tents to present their country and culture. It was a two-day event where I helped with the American stand. Evangeline joined us Friday evening and all day Saturday but the thing is… she was rarely with me. She would go from stand to stand and just make friends. She was at the Finland stand, the Ireland stand, a stand from somewhere in Africa. At first, I was worried she was bugging other people… but no one minded. They all loved her, shared with her, kept on eye on her, gave her things and essentially I worked all of Saturday with generally no idea where my daughter was or who she was with… and I wasn’t worried about it. Her love for people is just so pure. Her cultural and skin tone blindness allows her to see past those superficial things and just embrace other people as that… people. When we walk down the street and she says hi to the regular vagrant we see in the same spot begging for money. She doesn’t see him as a poor man begging for money or as someone less than us, but just as a man who is in her world. She smiles, waves, says hi, and gives him some change if we have some.

To the older people, we pass she smiles and says hi. In restaurants, she talks with the waiters or waitresses and treats them like her best friends. Her world no longer has the limits she once had for herself. Regularly she used to say “I can’t do it” now I get asked, “when can we do… blah blah blah”. She doesn’t shy away, at least not for long, from things that used to make her uncomfortable. She tries new foods, makes new friends, and has found a confidence that is not an arrogance, but a… if I can learn another language and be better than my mom, then I can do much more than I realized. So now she is testing the waters. Evangeline has such a distinct personality to her and she has helped me through some rough times.

As spring arrives in France and the flowers start to bloom, so too does my daughter who’s vibrancy is so electrifying that anyone in the radius can’t help but be drawn to it.

Far gone are the fears of the first three months, the self-doubt and constant question of myself. Now comes the… enjoying what is in front of me and learning to be more like Evangeline. Open my mind and heart to the world, just talk even if maybe it is not right, and be confident in who you are.

Attached is a link to when Evangeline was reading me a book in French hahaha.

 

  • Adam Reid

    Sounds like your travel to France has been wonderful for you and especially your daughter. It really is amazing how travel broadens ones view!