This is what happens to little kids when they move to France:
I was cleaning up my house the other day and on top of a pile of junk mail, I found this little note. Just to be clear, I did not write this. Owen did.
Most of my life, I’ve had a thing about nice writing implements. I may not have the best handwriting, but I’ve usually got a nice pen to write with. In college, I remember procrastinating for hours in the pen aisle at my campus bookstore. Who needs to pledge a sorority and gain sisters for life when a fountain pen, if cared for properly, will also last a lifetime. Delta Gamma sweatshirt vs. Waterman pen with blue/black ink? I’ll take the pen.
France is a writing implement lover’s dreams. When we originally received the list of supplies the kids needed to start school here, at the top of the list was a fountain pen with ink cartridges. I was ecstatic and clearly slightly more excited than they were. My kids were confused. In the US, they weren’t even allowed to write with pens in school, let alone fountain pens with ink cartridges.
It quickly became evident at school that the French take their handwriting very seriously. The kids here learn, what we used to call in the US, penmanship. I’m not sure if we call it anything in the US anymore because I’m pretty sure it’s not taught.
Back in the day at my elementary school, we had a penmanship expert named Mr. Moran, who came to our school to assess our handwriting on a monthly basis. His had a head shaped like a lightbulb and good penmanship was rewarded with small prizes like erasers or pencils. I’m pretty sure that there is no reward for good penmanship in the US anymore and the reward for bad penmanship is…….a computer.
But in France, things are different and good handwriting is still an educational priority in schools.
For the first half-year of school, my kids were baffled by the French interest in good penmanship, proper handwriting and pens. Then one day, it happened. My kids came home from school and started a random conversation with me about pens and penmanship. Apparently there were these super cool erasable pens that were making the rounds at school and my kids really wanted to get their hands on a set. I merrily skipped to the local pen store with them.
Since my kids have embraced life in France, they now spend time arguing about the best way to connect letters in “ecriture.” And they spend time talking about fountain pens. And they write little notes like the one above and they leave them around the house. Yahoo!
Here was my Christmas present from them:
They know me very well.