How Our Children Mirror Us

French Lifestyle BlogSo my little Woody Woodpecker has just gone into CP which is the start of “real’ primary school here in France. It seems to have gone so fast his early years. He really did NOT enjoy the first few years of French Maternelle, I don’t think he found enough to keep him interested. The French school system can be hard on those who do not immediately conform. The first years in Maternelle are spent learning to sit and listen, not something Woody has ever really enjoyed doing. Then all of a sudden, last year with the right ( amazing ) teacher, we saw an incredible change in Woody. This is SO me, I have always done my best for people I really love and admire…and far less for those I don’t!

You remember that favourite teacher who was strict but brought out the best in you because you really wanted to please her/him? Well, Woody was lucky enough to find that teacher last year. He went from being a very timid little student and one who cried at any kind of criticism to one who asked questions, became popular with the girls and began to shine. I’m so pleased that this year he seems to have found the same bond with his new teacher.


Last year I accompanied Woody and the rest of the class swimming each week where, once again with the encouragement of the teachers he went from flustering about in the pool to jumping in at the deep end. He is a little boy who never ceases to surprise me. Almost in tears he dreaded leaping into the deep blue pool but once he achieved it, he was back in jumping in and out over and over again. We signed up to do the intensive swimming course in the summer and what happened next was just so funny.

The first week Woody showed little to no interest in swimming and spent a lot of time looking at the ventilation system at the pool as well as the gigantic drain at the bottom of the deep end. There were several children taking part, one who was terrified about jumping in and looked like his world was caving in around him each time the instructor asked him to jump, another who just couldn’t quite get the hang of swimming above water at all, and, then Woody.

So, on week one, Woody enthusiastically sat at the side of the pool learning the basic moves for breast stroke. When he got into the water, I flushed as I realised he had NO idea that the moves he had been learning on dry land were the same ones he was supposed to use in the water. He honestly had made no connection whatsoever. The teacher wasn’t sure at the end of the first lesson whether it was worth continuing. This made me laugh so much because it reminded me of being at school and learning how to do maths but having no idea what it all actually meant. We went back for another lesson anyway and I told Woody to listen carefully and stop looking at the drain.

Going to school in France

This time he got straight into the pool and swam a width of breast stroke. We had tried to have a practice in our neighbour’s pool but he refused to play ball. I gave up and let him put his Swim Fin back on. ( If you’ve never heard of one of these then check them out, this really helped Woody get swimming faster ). So, I was quite surprised when he managed to move across the water using the newly learned breast stroke and a single noodle. He had obviously been practicing it in his head. The first week he was just stationary in the middle of the pool flapping around like a duck with clipped wings. Bless him, I thought, he’s going to take all day to get to the other side.

About six sessions later, he was swimming beautifully around the pool using the movements she’d taught him and she was so pleased with his progress that she asked him to jump in the deep end unaided and swim. Knowing that’s what he had to do to get his ” Diplome de Natation“, Woody, without any hesitation jumped in and began swimming. His head looked the size of a pin as he set off down the huge 25m pool. I couldn’t look.

Then I heard her clapping and whooping with joy. ” I’m so proud of you Woody” she said.

He made it. Then did it again, and again.

It’s funny isn’t it how different kids are. There was one boy at the class who was so confident that he could dive underwater and retrieve rings from the bottom from day one but he just didn’t seem to have the patience to try to perfect his breast stroke to swim without wearing himself out. He did eventually make it to the end of the pool aswell in the end. Once everyone was home and dry the instructor took me aside as she wrote out Woody’s first ever certificate of achievement and said, ” seriously, I have never seen anything like it “. She was astounded with how quickly he had learnt to swim and with such incredible determination. That’s my boy!

He is a funny mixture of me and his dad in equal measure and it is not so surprising that he is a kind but feisty little fellow but with a great capacity to achieve, but only if he puts his mind to it. I was quite shocked to see so much of myself with him this week at the pool. I remember being about 14 and taking part in some county cross country trials. I started off well but then ran a mile in the wrong direction ( yup, that not really understanding things again ) but I made my way back and caught up with the rest. I was very short for my age so my little legs had to work very hard indeed. But, I caught up, and won! I was never really academic at school but I tried VERY hard. It made me laugh seeing Woody with his incredible sense of pride at achieving his goal, not something I have ever seen him do before. I used to feel great when I achieved something like that and I was so proud of him. Mr Love French Style is pretty tenacious too, he literally NEVER throws the towel in on anything! So I guess you could say one thing we seemed to have passed on to our little guy is to never give up whatever you do.

Let’s hope the same can be said for his school year too X

How did your kids enjoy getting back to school? Did you hit the gin?

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