The gift of tongues

15 Jun

She’s in, she’s in!!! Léa has been officially accepted into Sweet Valley!!

We were called for an interview a week in advance. You would think that it is ample time to prepare yourself, psychologically, mentally emotionally. You would think that I would at least prepare the answer to the question: why do you want your child to get into Sweet Valley. I knew we would be asked this question… I was not quite ready for the question, neither for the rest of the interview.

As we arrived on the Friday morning, with rain pouring, we were a bit uncertain as to what to expect. When the principal arrived with a remedial teacher who took Lea on her own, we went to the principal’s office,  a bit  surprised. Poor Léa who was all excited to be with her mum and dad in the middle of the day, missing school…her face fell! But she coped well, not clinging, not crying, not too bad a start!

In the beautiful office, the principal asked his one – and only – question. After explaining to us that most people want their child into this school because of reputation, he asks us what is OUR reason for wanting Lea to go to Sweet Valley. And I was sitting there, knowing that my reasons are the exact same reasons as everyone else. What on earth can I say that will be original… and my brain doesn’t work well ‘on the spot’… So I mumbled some things about reputation (duuuhhh), lovely community feel…pffffffff! Phil did better than me and managed to mention more precise examples. But nothing earth-shattering really!

Then came a 10 minute long description of what Sweet Valley is, where it comes from, where it’s going, its achievements… all very interesting but rather confusing since I’m the one wanting to get my child into the school. It felt a bit like a tease: ‘look at our beautiful school – but sorry you can’t come in’… The van Blerks morale was not very high at that point!

Then it was Lea’s turn to come inside and be asked a few questions from the principal. Here stood Lea, squirming, waggling, jiggling on her feet, wriggling like a worm with tapeworm issues. When asked her name and surname, she barely managed to murmur Léa, with me mouthing the words very discreetly. When asked about her birthday date, she uttered a triumphant  ‘I don’t know’. Finally, she answered right to the colour, shape and maths questions. Some even to my surprise! But THEN, when she was allowed to sit down next to her dad, they exchanged a few words in Afrikaans, to the principal’s surprise. Hence followed a conversation about our story and the different languages used in our house. It seems that I have told this story like a million time, but never with such a motivation! I can never say for sure but I am convinced that this was the turning point of THE interview. That same afternoon, the kind secretary phoned me to say that they had a spot for Léa!!!

I know in my heart that it is an immense privilege for our children to be able to speak more than one language, in spite of the few set backs that they had to go through. Yes, they did have more frustrations than others to express themselves at an age where everything is already frustrating (learning to walk, to wee in the right spot, to eat without fidgeting, to share toys, to take turns…it is hard to be a toddler!) But that day was probably one of the first time that I could touch with my fingers the benefit of that extra effort. We are so very grateful, we’re grateful that the Lord didn’t close that door for us and we’re grateful that He provided a good school for Léa! Now the hard work will start in 2010, when she’ll actually go to school!

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8 Responses to “The gift of tongues”

  1. Marraine June 19, 2009 at 9:24 am #

    Donc j’avais bien compris , c’est Léa qui l’a emporté. Bravo Léa !!!

    Marraine

  2. inks75 June 18, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    Et bien c’est presque ca!!! L’ecole n’est pas bilingue, elle est anglaise et tres bonne et tout pres de chez nous; c’est Lea qui est trilingue et c’est ca qui l’a aide a etre accepte, meme si on n’est pas dans la zone de cette ecole. Mais oui, dans une semaine, je te raconterais tout ca de vive voix! 😉 Biz biz!

  3. Annie June 18, 2009 at 7:01 pm #

    Bravo ma petite léa, Mamie est contente et fière de toi.Ma fille j’ai ressenti la même émotion que toi en essayant de déchiffrer ( la traduction en français est très approximative) ton mail.Grâce à vos efforts à tous les 2, léa est prise à l’école bi-lingue.c’est bien ça?
    Il me tarde de vous voir pour avoir plein de détails.
    Biz

  4. Phillip June 17, 2009 at 9:25 am #

    What is particularly exciting is that we now have 3 different schools for our 3 different kids lined up for next year. I’m sure that won’t be a problem logistically!

    • inks75 June 17, 2009 at 9:29 am #

      I do recognise my sweet half-empty glass husband here!! I’m responsible for the logistics anyway so it won’t be a problem!! 😉

  5. Debby Garratt June 16, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

    SO COOL!!! yeay! such a lovely school, I am very happy for you 🙂

  6. Marraine June 16, 2009 at 8:43 pm #

    Sans savoir pourquoi, je vous dis bravo !Si j’ai bien compris c’est une très bonne école pour votre petite Léa. D’après ce que j’ai cru comprendre, elle a réussi quand même à se faire accepter, et tu as l’air tellement heureuse et rassurée que je le suis aussi. Mille gros bisous à tous.

    Marraine

  7. debbie June 15, 2009 at 8:29 pm #

    Hi Ingrid
    That’s great news, it’s such a relief when you have made a decision and it’s all sorted out.
    I liked your title – I really didn’t expect it to be about school!!!

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