Saturday, August 14, 2010

A French kid touched my heart

When we lived in Paris, Mr. Z and I became friends with the Vice President of Mr. Z's company and his wife, both native-born French. They have five children and we met them when they were very small; four boys and a girl. I received an email from the Dad some weeks ago telling me that their third son, Alban, would be interning at a marketing job in Los Angeles and I asked him to give Alban my phone number.
Alban called the other day and we arranged to have lunch today. He'd sounded a tad awkward on the phone, shy and maybe socially less outgoing than some, so I wasn't expecting too much other than being a good friend and filling my friends' son's Saturday with something to do for lunch.
Boy, was I wrong.
I tell you about him because he embodied something you don't see too much of anymore. I have great nephews, so I shouldn't be too surprised, but this kid was amazing. 19 years old, handsome, smart, funny, very insightful, thoughtful, a boy of faith, and pretty politically conservative.... I can't believe what a pleasant time I had with him. We talked about politics, faith, families, values, culture and sex! (okay, just two minutes on sex and it wasn't gratuitous, I assure you!!)
He said he was ashamed of the French World Cup soccer team (as any Frenchman should be!) because they seemed not to care about France....he said he knew it sounded racist but the minority players just didn't seem to put their love for France above their egos (and he added "that isn't racist, though, is it...we're just programmed now to think it is" !) . It touched me that a kid cares about his country so much BUT did show a good amount of understanding for the immigration problem and wasn't at all xenophobic.
He's just finished reading ANNA KARENINA and talked about how his friends ribbed him for reading a book on his own time (other than school) but how much he enjoyed the story.
He told me his brothers and he have talked recently about what to tell their sister about guys and sex when she's old enough to date "we want to protect her," he said. That really touched me. He talked about baby sitting and how the parents these days let their kids do anything they want to and how glad he was that his parents had been strict with him and his siblings and "...I really should thank my dad and mom for this some day soon..." A 19 year old kid, pretty amazing, huh? He sounds like a 'goody two shoes' here but he wasn't at all.....Like he said "I do the cool things, too, with my friends, but I like to read and I like to stay on top of politics and......"
Other than his native French, he speaks excellent English and German and hopes to learn Chinese or Spanish next. He's starting his MBA program soon and even talked about how the elitist French school system rewarded the upper class kids (he's in it) but that maybe it should change to give every kid a better chance at a good job later.......
So, I wanted to tell you about him......I have to admit I felt badly because the world we're leaving these great kids isn't quite what we got, but it was sure nice to know there are kids like this out there. I just emailed his dad and mom.......and raved about him.

They deserve it.

z

15 comments:

Linda said...

Actually the only hope we all have is in young men like your friend. I'm so glad you had a chance to reconnect.

FrogBurger said...

how the elitist French school system rewarded the upper class kids

A bit of a socialist statement.

I really don't know where he's seen this. I think lower classes' kids, mostly coming from immigrants, care less and less about schools and parents are not behind them. Very much like in the US. My mom is a retired teacher and she saw that happen.

FrogBurger said...

that isn't racist, though, is it...we're just programmed now to think it is

That's a great statement from him. The soccer players coming from immigration didn't indeed put country above themselves at all.

FrogBurger said...

To add to my previous comment, I think some of the French of French descents (i.e. white) didn't do any better. They could have stopped the bad behavior and decided not to go on strike.

The relationship of the French with France is quite interesting I must say. I don't know how to describe it. I've seen and heard more statements about the love for the republican principles than the country itself. And if there's pride it's for our rich history.

That's maybe why I don't love the country I'm from. I don't like the French republican principles that much.

And I don't think my generation loves France for the opportunities and the freedom it offers. Because I don't think it offers much at that level.

I think the only great opportunity in France is to get a great education at a low price (if you don't take taxes into account.) After that you're pretty much on your own and it's a lot tougher.

Z said...

But, FrogBurger, Of course the kids from the good schools get good jobs! That's all he meant...
As for the socialist thing, he wasn't complaining! :-) He and I both agreed that parents who've worked hard have every right to put their children in schools which will benefit them...he just thought that America's system of rewarding anybody who works hard in school was better.
And, yes, he said kids care less and less about school..he said even kids HIS age, 19, don't know the monarchy because they don't teach it anymore....the teachers teach history from Robespierre forward...he says "Imagine teaching French history while leaving the monarchy OUT!?" he just can't believe that his friends don't know about the monarchy..and we laughed about who this dopes think lived in the palaces they visit in the summer with their parents!! ?

Ya, that statement was a good one...the kid was fabulous, that's all I can say!

Z said...

gotta run...just saw your other comment, I'll be back! xx

FrogBurger said...

I guess I misunderstood the statement then.

Robespierre should be taught as a mass murderer or genocider in addition to being a revolutionary. Like Laval should be taught as the socialist working with the nazis to eliminate jews off the face of the earth.

I'd love to meet him when he's in LA.

FrogBurger said...

To go back to French history, the character that should be taught as an almost national hero is LaFayette. But unfortunately he was a moderate in the French revolution. Yet he was one of the writers of the first French constitution, was anti slavery and was an man with very strong principles and a great respect for life.

He's personally my hero.

FrogBurger said...

I'm now off to Mozza for our 6th year anniversary.

Brooke said...

Facepalm. heh.

Z said...

thanks, Brooke! HA!

FrogBurger...HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! I hope you had a marvelous time!

Elmers Brother said...

wonderful

Jen said...

Yay!

:-)

MK said...

He's the kind of young adult democrats loathe, free, independent, responsible.

Z said...

thanks, MK ELBRO and JEN...what a kid, huh?