January 07, 2005

Mooch's Passport Arrived

France, here she comes.

I can't believe how fast time has flown. Here she is, a 5th grader already, and it's almost time for her to take her first overseas trip. A trip we only faintly imagined years ago when we first enrolled her in school. It's becoming very real and I'm getting nervous. Two days before Christmas I stood in line at the post office to apply for her passport to be express shipped. This alone cost us $120. The school has to have their passport information now when sending over all paperwork ahead.

She's been in the French immersion school since K4, and we always knew, Lord willing, we'd send her on the school trip once she was in 5th grade. Actually most of these kids have known each other since K4, and they do not accept new students if they are past the 1st grade so it's a pretty tight group of kids going this year. I am sure there are many different reasons why the other 5th graders aren't going, but the kids that will be will be thinking of them.

The passport came on Monday, and the reality of it hit us. Our eleven year old daughter is going to get a stamp in her passport before us. Nevermind that, we don't even have a passport!!! In the last few years the 5th graders haven't gone. First with 911, the kids obviously stayed home. With each year since the committee determines in early Fall if they will be allowed to travel, even though they don't depart until Spring. With the terroism going on around this world, it's a scary thing. We are taking a chance on a few levels.

For one, it's both exciting and nerve wrecking to see our children go off into a foreign country, with just two school chaperones. They are staying in the home of a family we have never met. Virtually, they are strangers except for a few weeks worth of letters and phone calls we'll soon be receiving.

Secondly, they are just 5th graders after all and it's a very long flight, over the water, without their parents. You can believe I'll be on my knees almost the whole day until l hear she's landed safely.

Thirdly, it's a financial gamble. Once the tickets are bought, deposits on field trips and busses are made, if this trip is cancelled, we won't see a penny of that money. We had to make a deposit in early September to determine how many parents were really serious about sending their kids. Since then there has been two other $200 installments. Incredibly, we learned that we were getting an awesome deal with Air France and the airfare dropped to around $600. I think once spending money is factored in, and whatever wasn't covered by fundraising for field trips, they will travel at just over $800. It's an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity for most of these kids! So on March 10th they will arrive in Salon De Province, fully fluent in the language, partaking in a huge taste of freedom and autonomy like they have never experienced before.

Bon voyage!

Now, I'm off to search for colorful, lightweight & easy to carry luggage.