Please play Greatest Love of All by Whitney (verse one obviously), and enjoy my time as a private school girl. Carry on.
I was roughly 8 years old and everything was French. Everything. Here I am, a young-ling, excited to be moving to Montreal with my family. Excited for change. Reality hit very soon and I was enrolled in a French private school and French language school. The parents had the idea we'd stay there for a long time, so they did what any parent would do: Throw your kids in the deep end. Learn French fluently.
So there I was, bilingual dictionary on the dinner table doing homework. If you've ever hated doing homework, I recommend doing it in a language you don't know. Let me know how it goes and let's compare notes. *sigh* After dinner, it was off to French language class which was the absolute worst. Verb tenses that never ended. Pronunciations that was always filed under "things that sound like" in my brain. Chaos.
Few months went by and our night courses at the language school came to an end, so we had to fend for ourselves at school. Private school was interesting to say the least. Add a new language and environment to uniform brat girls and you've got yourselves a hella good time. Body image issues and bullying came full force that year. I dealt with it alone as long as I could before it got bad. I recall having a teacher, Madam Pote, who was and is by far one of my most influential and passionate teachers I've ever had in my youth. For some reason, I think she understood the frustration of me trying to deal with that was happening around me. If you've ever met me, you'd know I want to be the best, at the top, and everything has to be perfect. *Aries Alert* Now imagine me being none of those things and trying to fit in. Trying to become fluent in a language I don't know. Trying to become, well me. Not my finest hour.
Madam Pote though, she could speak English perfectly, but never spoke it when I was around. She would always encourage me to figure it out as much as I could in French. She was the encouragement I needed when everyone and everything around me was getting my down. The patience that woman had, I don't know how she did it. Even though I was only 8 or 9 years of age, she was everything I aspired to be when I started teaching in Cambodia so many many years later. Yes, me a teacher. In Cambodia. More on that later.
Summer holiday was spent waiting for my baby sister to arrive. Mum was glowing and about to give birth at any moment. I will always have an image of her drinking her tea on the back patio of our house smiling as she watch us, her ducklings, play in the pool. Such a small but lively moment will always be one of the last memories I have before my final sibling came around. When she arrived, we named her Salóme. With her wild black hair, she was finally there. I know it wasn't easy for my mum. She went through a difficult birth (which I was informed of at the time but only comprehended when I was much older), and had an additional surgery directly following a birth of a child. No kidding my youngest sister was the final sibling.
There was a lady that joined our family to help us out while my mum was in recovery. I don't recall clearly, but I think her name started with an "H". For story sake, let's call her H. I know my mum thought of her as more as an annoyance than a help, but we can't win 'em all. She lasted a few weeks with us before she went back to where she came from. Will I ever see here again? Probably not. Do I feel bad writing this? Not really.
My dad went on a business trip to who-knows-where *oblivious child* during this time too. While he was gone, he arranged for us to be picked up from our house and brought to school everyday so my mum could rest. (Please don't judge the rest of this story). Black Lincoln's picked us up at 8am and dropped us off post school. While these drivers were on rotation, we had a few that we had more often than others. The ones we had more often were the bomb. One time when we all were ready to go, waiting in the sun room for him to pull up into the drive, like he always did we waited. Seeing his tail lights at the end of the street and he wasn't moving. Not one bit. So after a few moments, we said our goodbyes to mum and we walked to the end of the way. There was a FUCKING LIMOUSINE waiting for us. Obviously we got in 💅. Our favorite driver was so excited to have us that morning. Not only was it just a casual limo, it was Celine Dion's limo. Canada's sweetheart. The queen of Canada. My heart will go on and on Celine. Our driver let us mess around with all the buttons till we got to school. Lights, retractable bar (!!!!), tv screens. It was and still is by far the weirdest morning I have ever had. Of course the commute felt like only 2 minutes had passed before it was all over...
When Christmas season arrived, I had become comfortable enough to do homework without a dictionary beside me and I started to feel like I was settling in. Winters in Montreal were insane to say the least. When it started to snow, it never ended. Icicles on the mailman's beard? Check. Snow piles till mid-April? Please. -40* windshield? I can't even. *rolls eyes* Even though it was by far the worst season, it was the dominate one and we had to deal with it as much we could. Don't ever think that we get snow days. I had one. ONE SNOW DAY! For the entire season. There was snow meters high, it covered houses. But no, don't stop the education. Once you survived the winter seasons, it was and will always be one of my most favored cities on earth.
Montreal became my home. I was in the mindset that we were going to stay here for a while. I was perhaps naive of what the living sitch was, but I honestly though we wouldn't have to move again. Maybe if I were older I would have "read the signs" better or looked at life in a different perspective, but I honestly didn't want to move again. I was sick of it. So I did what I will never do again after Montreal; I settled my heart down and started to plant roots. That was and still is the biggest regret I have from living there. I settled. I made it home.
A few months later, we moved.