Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On Working

I have a few thoughts I want to get down about finally working, but I'm not exactly sure where I'm going to go with it. Bear with me here...

I am reminded time and again how naive Stéphane and I were about my moving here. We were sure I'd find work within six months (those two years of my parents falling ill and dying one after the other notwithstanding) and even then we thought I'd be able to pick up where I left off. It never occurred to me that moving countries would be so vastly different for someone fresh out of school and for me, who at 31 years old had a nice little career going and was making more than my husband.

I don't know why I never realized that I'd be literally starting over, but now that I'm revisiting the same sort of job I had 15 or so years ago, it seems so ridiculously obvious. For the first time in my life my boss is Mr So-and-So (as opposed to being on a first name basis) and younger than me. I'm overqualified and over-educated for this job (and for my colleagues), and I sincerely hope I'm not still doing it in five years.

BUT. I also feel like I've cracked the code. I'm on the inside. I have a Social Security number and have money going towards retirement. Every paycheck I bring home means we're that much closer to buying a house. Every month I stay employed is another month I can add to my resume which will only look better and better as time goes on. If I'm offered the CDI (the magical never-ending contract), I'm pretty much set, and at this point I'm feeling more and more confident that this will happen (more thoughts on that in another post). But most importantly, there's no reason I have to stop looking and applying for jobs that I really want.

So I see this job both as a saving grace and a temporary set back. If we can accept the idea of a five to six year break in my career as temporary.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

one problem solved...

Some major, major problems at work were resolved yesterday. I was so happy I nearly skipped out of work to my car. I still don't know if this is going to be the long term job for me, and I'm probably going to continue to send out some resumes from time to time in hopes of finding a Monday-Friday job, but I'm totally at peace with work and ready to get on with it. Huge, huge relief there!

Now, the Nanny thing. It turns out that Nounou has contracted Legionellosis, more commonly known as Legionnaires disease. They very nearly waited too long to get medical help and she was in critical condition last we heard, but we're all hoping she makes a full recovery. Stéphane is meeting Mr Nounou this evening to go over some contractual stuff because it will be at least three or four months before she can work again (if she works at all) and we want to get Fry in a stable place that will last at least through the end of the school year. If Nounou is working again after the summer break and I'm still working, we'll probably go back. In the meantime, we've only got a couple of days to find a new nanny.

Meanwhile, Mémère watched Fry Monday and Tuesday, which went off mostly without a hitch. As I mentioned before, we decided that Fry and I would spend the night at Mémère's since I have to be at work so early, but that meant Sunday night I had to struggle with him to settle down and go to sleep. Even if he was a little unruly going to bed, he was a perfect angel with Mémère during the day, much to my relief. Of course, it's easy to be an angel when you get to watch tv and eat cakes all day (I exaggerate but you know), but if you can't spoil grandchildren where's the fun in life, right? I have to admit, it was lovely being only five minutes from work, too. *sigh* If we don't manage to find a Nanny in the next two days, Mémère will watch him again on Friday and then we'll have the weekend to continue our search.

To top off everything else, I'm working on a pretty good head cold. It finally bloomed last night, just in time for two days off. Can't ever catch a break around here!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

we knew it was too easy

When I picked Fry up from Nounou's house on Thursday afternoon, I knew she wasn't feeling very well. She had her mother (MIL?) helping her out, which I appreciated. But she looked really rough. So it wasn't entirely a surprise when Stéphane called me at work Friday morning to tell me that Nounou had seen a doctor in the middle of the night and was too sick to take Fry. He was able to take the morning off* and we were able to pass each other at home so I could take the relay.

What I wasn't expecting at all was for Stéphane to tell me on Saturday that Mr Nounou called to tell us that Nounou is in the hospital in critical condition, and they didn't know what was wrong with her. Awesome. My first concern was whether it's something contagious, but except for a little bit of a runny nose, Fry seems perfectly fine. My next concern is obviously for Nounou; I hope she's on the mend very soon!

But right behind that concern is, what on earth are we going to do now? Mémère is going to watch Fry tomorrow and Tuesday while I'm working, and then we'll have to see where we are. My shift starts so early that we've decided that it will be easier for us to spend the night at Mémère's house. This is clearly not a long term solution. It looks like Stéphane and I are going to have to start looking for a new Assistante Maternelle this week.

At one point yesterday, I turned to Stéphane and said, "You know, I thought this whole process went way too smoothly." "I was just about to say the same thing," he responded. *sigh*

* Stéphane called the school as soon as he had the news, but it still took a couple of hours for the substitute teacher to show up, so rather than have the kids screw around with a surveillante (an adult monitor) he took Fry with him to class. The kids loved it, Fry wore himself out, and the kids at least got a little work done. Ha!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

not all it's cracked up to be

It was a very frustrating week at work, not to mention exhausting! Six days on, one day off, six days off and finally three days of rest. Today is the third day and I finally can walk without pain in my back and feet. Not that I'm complaining! It feels great to come home and be tired from working, it's very satisfying. I do quite like my job; unfortunately, it's the people I work with that will eventually send me running.

The problem is that it's a young person's job really; something for those that are not yet tied down with family. It's fine for now, but I'm pretty sure it's not something I'd want to do for the rest of my career. The problem I'm having really is that I'm not getting all of my questions answered about important things that I won't go into here but believe me, are quite shocking that I haven't gotten answers yet. Hopefully some of them will be answered this week, as my boss is back from vacation.

I don't mind telling you that I've gone back to the unemployment website and started sending out resumes again. Just because I've found a job doesn't mean I can't keep looking, right?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

fourteen months

It seems to me that Fry is literally growing before my eyes, with all the accomplishments he's had this month. Suddenly, his head is nearly clearing his baby jail playpen, and I remember very clearly him standing up the first few times and the top of his head barely reached the top!

Fry doesn't walk as much as he runs. He would probably have a lot fewer bruises if he actually looked where he's walking, though! Now he can get up without pulling up on something and likes nothing better than picking up something and running around the downstairs with it. His room has recently transformed into a play space, with a new carpet and fun new toys, including a wooden wagon filled with wooden building blocks that he loves to pull around the room. He has always been clever with shapes, and if he picks up a toy in one hand, he has to have the identical toy in his other, whether it's a car, a ring, a train, or a circular building block. On the other hand, the downstairs is a veritable mine field, so getting out of the playpen still means heavy supervision and lots of "NO"s from me and Stéphane.

We've been seeing big changes at the table, too. More and more, Fry is interested in feeding himself. It started with him controlling my (or Stéphane's) hand holding the spoon, pulling it towards him when he's ready to eat from it, and every once in a while he insists on holding the spoon and getting it in his mouth. We're definitely letting him go at his own pace and marveling at how he'll take an already small piece of food and pick it apart in minuscule pieces before putting it in his mouth.

Fry is still babbling nice and loud in his own language, and we haven't really had an discernible words apart from "papapapapapa" and "mamamamamamama", but we're not bothered. Since he starts going to Nounou's house on Monday, he'll be hearing quite a lot more French than English, and I'm hoping listening to me babble on to him for the last year will be enough. I'm excited and nervous and sad about this next phase of his life, learning to let him go and share him with others.

One last note, my favorite: I've been trying to teach him kisses, since "doing the bise" is such an integral part of life in France. I show him my kissy face a lot, but he quickly responded by putting his finger up to my mouth. Now sometimes he's even stick his finger out, prompting a kiss. It's my favorite part of the day. He may have a little steak of mischief in him, but he's still my sweet boy!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year !

Oh my, what a week! It was an emotional roller coaster, thanks to a colleague who took the Cat's Away, Mice Will Play method to a whole new level. Since I have a difficult time with confrontation, I spent a couple of days working on a pretty sweet ulcer, until, finally, she went too far and was called on the carpet. Sweet, sweet justice, just in time for my day off. One more week until my boss is back in town and hopefully this crap will be cleared up definitively.

Benita asked in the comments of my last post about the "golden ticket," and you're right, there isn't anything like it in the states. It's basically a contract that makes it really difficult for the employee to be fired. One the one hand, the employee has to screw up pretty bad to be let go, by making a number of fautes professionelles, a very serious accusation, for example. It can be a risky proposition for the employers, as there are stories of employees that get their CDI and then stop showing up for work, but more realistically, if they find that their employee is not living up to the employers expectations, it's not so easy to let them go. There is no notion of "Right to Work" here (which is a contradiction in terms, in which an employer can fire an employee without giving a reason and is perfectly legal in many US States). Also, there is no notion of having to earn vacation - everyone that works is entitled to five weeks vacation, starting from their first day of work. Quite different from what I'm used to!

Last weekend we met with the couple that will be watching Fry four days a week. She's the full time nanny, and he works outside the home but helps his wife watch the kids on Mondays when she's supposed to have a "day off." She is also watching a three year old that will start half days at school on Monday, and a two and a half year old. We'll be meeting with them again tomorrow afternoon to go through the details of the contract but we felt really comfortable with them very quickly so we feel like we got lucky and found a good one on the first go. I'm concerned that we don't have time to do a period of adaption (going with him for an hour and then increasing the time alone with the nanny slowly) but she's had to start without the adaption before and it ended up fine. I feel bad putting it on Stéphane but I'm awfully glad it's not me dropping him off next week, I don't think I could handle it! At least I'll be able to pick him up early the first couple of days.

We celebrated the New Year in much the same way we did last year: Fry went to bed at his usual time and Stéphane and I made a delicious fondue (made even better thanks to my Swiss Miss friend, Ms Mac), and then I crashed out around 10ish after watching an old French movies from the '60s (love Bourvil!). Getting up at 5am is taking its toll! In any case, we're really excited about 2010, but all depends on how the next couple of months go with this new job. We're hoping for the best, as this job has the potential to be a really sweet gig and great for all of us! Wishing you the best for your health and happiness in 2010!