Nope – I haven’t started to blog in French… This, my friends, is a confession, a clearing of the air, a karma scrub, so to speak, in the hopes that whatever is blocking my attempts to learn French will be cleansed from my soul, and I can venture forth in Paris in a bilingual state!
The pictures do not relate to the text – they’re just there to look pretty.
False names will be used to protect the not-so innocent…
Dear Professeur de français,
You were my French Teacher in 3rd year. You might not remember me since I was not exactly a star pupil in French class, but you may remember an incident that happened while you taught me.
I wasn’t really into languages at the tender age of 12 or 13. Perhaps France seemed too far away. It wasn’t your fault. You were, and most likely still are, a really nice man and a fun teacher – and I have the evidence to prove it.
You see, while I was supposed to be spending my time studying irregular verbs, (I only found out recently there are regular verbs!) and figuring out my tenses (why, oh why, can’t everything just have the same tense?) I was too busy working out the nuts and bolts on the chair behind your desk. Yes, I mean that quite literally!
In 3rd year, the pupils stayed in their classroom and the teachers rotated. It may have been a rainy day, but this one day, we were allowed to stay in the room over break-time too.
We had you next.
A bunch of us (no names!) decided it would be funny to booby-trap your chair. We removed all the nuts and bolts holding the chair together and used sellotape to take care of that crucial job instead.
The bell rang.
For once, I sat in the front row. That alone should have been a warning to you! In you came, armed with your briefcase, an armful of copybooks and your big smile. You greeted the class, then sat down.
The sellotape held. The prank wasn’t going to work and in that split second (we later admitted to each other) we were glad. You could get hurt and we’d be in big trouble.
The chair collapsed and you disappeared behind the desk.
We were horrified! We thought: What had we done? Was he dead? Would we get detention or expelled? We held our breaths. Then suddenly two hands appeared and landed palm down on the desk. In one elegant movement, you pulled yourself to your feet in a parody of a French mime artist, not a hair (nor a tooth, thank God) out of place. Your smile intact, you calmly asked for another chair.
I have to tell you Professeur de Français, in that moment your status as a legend was born. Your gracious acceptance of our prank made us feel worse on the guilt stage than any punishment could have (which incidentally you never did dole out.)
Finally, able to breathe again, we were so thankful that we hadn’t (to our knowledge) hurt you or gotten into a bucketful of trouble that we never did anything like that again to you or any other teacher. (I’m not saying I refrained from mischief…just a specific type of mischief.)
Years later, as a student teacher myself, the memory of what I’d done as a pupil haunted me, but it served to keep me on my toes – though I did fall victim to a couple of pranks myself. And when I did, Professeur de Français, I reminded myself of your hands coming up from behind the desk that day, and your accompanying grin. I had big shoes to fill as a teacher.
Now I pay what feels like a small fortune for French lessons, the payment all the more painful when I think that I had five years of free lessons, twice a week, at school.
But you’ll be glad to know, Professeur de Français, that I actually really like my lessons and look forward to doing mes devoirs. I get on well with the the lovely French lady who is tasked as my teacher. I promise to be good to her.
But what if she ever finds out about the way I treated my old Professeur de français? I’ll just have to cross that bridge when I come to it!
Actually, come to think of it I hope my mother doesn’t read this either!
Yours in lifelong learning,