lundi 5 juillet 2010

le 6 juillet

There are days on the calendar beyond the 6th of July, like the 7th and the 8th, and even whole months and years indicated beyond le 6 juilliet 2010, the date the baccalaureate exam results are available for students of the baccalauréat général in the académie de Versailles, our academy. There are even events planned, like our friend's 50th birthday dinner the 9th. This should give me hope, like the earth will continue to turn about its axis with my son and myself on it, but it doesn't. It might just mean that, yeah, the earth will continue to turn, but with us in a sort of unending torment.

Tomorrow morning at 10 am, hundreds of thousands of lycéens in our will go online to see if they passed. Those who live near here, and don't have to be at work, like my son, will head to Lycée Condorcet to find one another, search the lists for their names and the names of their friends, console the bereft and celebrate with the victorious. Cell phones will light up with hundreds of thousands of text messages.

"G l'ai eu!"

"Je savais. C super!"

"Mention bien!"

"Rattrapage :-/"

"Alors tu l'as eu ou quoi?"


"Non? Mec C pas cool"


I don't know how the parents respond. They always show the kids on the news, and they interview the ones who were admitted usually. The others are too gagged with tears and agony to talk, although there is usually a stoic one, who talks about preparing to do it all again come la rentrée.

Please, Dieu, let that not be my son. Please, if you are merciful and not a punishing, angry, Dieu, bent on making one jeune homme and sa mère misérables, s'il vous plaît, laissez-le l'avoir.


It's really been too much already. It's been enough. Vraiment, vraiment assez.

"Mais je suis convaicu qu'il l'aura," say his tantes et oncles. "J'ai confiance en lui." I nod, petrified for him, anyway.

One series of tests. That's it. That's what decides if you have successfully completed your high school education or not. Even among those who have done well all through lycée, there is often one malheureux, who, to everyone's amazement, does not pass. Sometimes, there is the one no one expects to pass, who does. This is what he is counting on. It's another way to be exceptional. Most often, the one no one expects to have his or her bac does not. This is what is worrying him.

And me.

You can love your child, you can believe in your child, you can scold and encourage your child, lecture and reward, attend meeting after meeting during which all parties can agree that the "system", l'éducation nationale française, is not suited to your child, but no party can think of an option under 21,000 euros a year or sending him away. We return to making excellent arguments, full of sound sense and fine psychology, hoping this time will do the trick and that he'll see the light. All the confidence in the world for his natural intelligence will not be enough to ward off the worry, the extremely legitimate fear that in a few days, tomorrow the worst news will fall on his head, and you won't be able to say anything more than, "Je suis désolée. Je t'aime. On trouvera les solutions et tu t'en sortiras."

The earth will continue to turn. The calendar days will pass. The emotion will calm. Life will go on.

"Send me a text message and let me know," says a parent, whose only concern is that her son might not get the 13 he needs to attend the British university he wishes to attend.

"Don't worry. You'll hear me. Either a cry of joy, or a lamentation to tear the skies open will be heard all the way to Paris. To Brest."

"Mom, I am starting to feel really nervous," he said a day or two ago.

"I know. Me, too." It's hard to wait and to be prepared for whatever it will be.

"I'll go to the office and go online at 10 am."

"Will you be alright if the news is not good? Might it be better to go in after?"

"I'd be too late. I have to do it this way. It'll be okay."

The phone will ring sometime after 10 am. I'll hear it ring. I'll have to answer it, and then I will hear his voice. I'll know right away.

And he'll be too far to scream with joy and hug, or too far to fail to console, and I will spend another day, wandering around my house and garden, like Marianne, pining over Willoughby.

Please God, if you are a kind God, a merciful God, a caring and concerned God...
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