Monday, August 25, 2008


C left to go home on Friday after spending 3 weeks in our home. I need to summarize how the Julie McCoy school of entertaining went because it has been spinning around in my head and I need some closure.

I wanted to take in a french student because I was fortunate enough to live with a wonderful family in Avignon for 3 weeks during my sophmore year of college. During the day, the 8 of us that were there, met for french lessons in the morning and then could spend the afternoon exploring. Nights and weekends were spent with my host family. They introduced me to the whole family at a rockin' family dinner, took me into the mountains and to historic sites. I knew I wanted that opportunity for my own kids some day and I hoped I could return the favor to some french kids. So fast forward 20 years and I am able to offer my home to a french student for the first time.

At first, I was nervous because, since I am still a 'kid', I couldn't believe another family was trusting me with their 14 year old. Then I looked in the mirror and remembered I was 41, and thought I am probably an adult by now. We exchanged emails with C and her family for a few months before she came. She sounded up for anything that we were going to throw at her. The girls and I brainstormed on places that we could take her, that would be fun and meaningful. I did not really receive any 'direction' from the People to People program on what was expected of me. I just figured she needed to hear a lot of english and see what an American family is about.

My girls had a great time playing tourist for the 3 weeks. We went to Water Wizz, Heritage Plantation, Plymouth Plantation, Chatham Fish Pier, out to a nice family dinner, mini golf, go-karts, NH (Story Land and Attitash), horse back riding and the beaches and pool.

I could have done more.

But many things were boring.

Yup, that's what she said amongst other things.

Water Wizz was the one place I made her pay with her own money. (That was another thing, I didn't know how much she came with and how much I was suppose to pay. I got $150 a week for having her. After seeing an email she sent (in french) to her family, I got the idea that she was horrified that she spent that much and was apologizing to her parents). The most fun thing at Heritage Plantation was the Carousel, museums were boring. At Plymouth Plantation, K, B and I were having fun going in and out of the little homes in the old english village and listening to some of the 'settlers' speak. We would walk into a house and she would say, "Oh look another house, it is the same, I will sit outside."The fish pier was "smelly" and half way through she went to sit in the truck instead of watching DH manuever his boat in and unload the day's catch. She went to the final day of the town Rec program with K and B where there were big blow up bouncy things, burgers, games etc... K said she mostly sat and read her book.

Her favorite thing of the whole trip was going to Story Land.

That and horseback riding. I think she would have been happy to have slept in the barn with the horses and hung out there for the 3 weeks.

So I am wondering,
are most 14 year olds from France a little immature?
too young for this type of experience?

Or were my expectations wrong.

I repeatedly told my girls that if they ever went to stay with another family and told them things were boring I would kick their asses! They couldn't understand why she was bored either. They were having a blast!

I am actually feeling a little guilty for not taking her to Boston, to a band concert in Chatham, to Provincetown, but honestly when someone does not appreciate the hoop jumping I was doing, it just didn't seem worth it.

She even had the nerve to tell me that my house was messy. Um yeah, I moved in a month before you got here and it's summer, so who wants to put stuff away in a sweltering house when you could be at the beach?

It wasn't all negative. She and the girls got along great. She taught them some french. She made a cake one night. She did ask if she could help a lot. And her english improved enough to know when I was being sarcastic. And she seemed really happy with all the pictures (600) I took of her adventures in America.

Will I do this again, yes, of course. Will it be next summer, probably not. Will I find out more about what the expectations of me as host family will be, you bet. I am mostly happy for what my girls got out of the experience: an older sister, a contact in France, and the realization that being appreciative goes a long way.


Caution/Lisa said...

I've always wanted to host an exchange student but know how my own 13 year old is. She is NOT impressed by anything. I've had several international nannies in my classes, too, and they are all about partying, so I've thought we would seem mighty boring to them.

Now, I would be deeply appreciative as your exchange student. I would be gracious and I could teach your girls either some Kentucky language or Detroit language. Your choice :)

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

I'll come and stay and APPRECIATE THE HELL OUT OF YOU!!

Hallie :)

Manic Mommy said...

My niece did People to People last summer (at 13) and had the most amazing time. The only downside was that the host family got the weeks mixed up and ended up taking her camping with them, which they had not intended.

For yours, I would think that gratitude would have been the least she could offer - but maybe next time, try a few more urban pursuits.

Sarah Clapp said...

Now if you took her to Plymouth Rock, I could understand the let down, but it sounds like you provided a lot of fun options.

I'd kick my son's ass too if he acted like that.

Anonymous said...

Good golly. How rude and ill mannered.
I have had a 13 year old and a m 11 year old with jme on an off all summer and mostly we hung out. They were grateful for walks, talks and cooking parties.
My niece and her family had a 13 year old boy from Spain and he was a joy for all.
Maybe you just got a dud!

Tootsie Farklepants said...

I too have days when I swear I'm a 14 year old. Then I look in the mirror and wonder what happened?

Summer said...

I'd love to be your exchange student next year. All I need is a ride to the beach.

Melisa Wells said...

"Then I looked in the mirror and remembered I was 41, and thought I am probably an adult by now."

Welcome to my life. :)

I think you were great and totally did the right thing in trying to show her your part of the world. You can't make somebody appreciate it. Here's a thought: Maybe she was not excited about coming here and her parents forced her? Seems weird but possible. Maybe she has a boyfriend at home and didn't want to leave him? Who knows. You were a great hostess as were your girls, and that's all you can control. :)

scargosun said...

I think it was her age. I agree also that actually telling someone the nice things they were doing is just wrong. Who does that in any country. I think you did an excellent job! You certainly did for me when I was there for the afternoon. :)

Laski said...

You know, I have family that live abroad and the one trait that I recognize in all of them is that they are unapologetically brash in their statements. We tend to be a bit more diplomatic.

That being said, I still think there is no excuse for her behavior. So, don't feel guilty about nixing Boston. Nope. Not one bit. Save it for your next visitor . . .

The Nice One said...

Thanks so much for coming over to my little planet! I'm glad you had a good time.
Wow...foreign exchange student...that frightens me a bit. I think I'd scare 'em ;)
Have a fabulous weekend.

KathyLikesPink said...

Darling Daughter is 13 and she would have LOVED all those things. Especially if she got to be grown-up and go with another family.

Your students sounds young and spoiled to me.

Marie around the World said...

Not very easy to host an exchange student especially that young. I am sure that my parents wouldn't have let me go at 14 and I am almost sure I'd the same with my daughter (but we'll see in a couple of years).
It could have something to see with French people. Since I came back from 6 years in the US, I see us as "arrogant" people (spelling?). But most of all, it's because of education and being a teenager...and everything about her life (like Melisa said).
You did a great job and your first great job was hosting an exchange student ! I hope you'll do it again (and I'll send you my daughter in a few years !)

Wendi said...

You should not feel guilty.
You did everything to please her.
You should have phoned me.
I would have given her a few "southern hospitality and manners" lessons.
Sounds like she needs a few.

Wineplz said...

Wow...I cannot believe that she acted that way. I would've loved to have done all those things with you and the girls. Not every American family lives like Paris or Nicky Hilton. sheesh!