My toes tapped to the music I hoped I remembered correctly. Never the most coordinated dancer or the most Irish of women (we’re talking a minimal percentage here), I moved my toes from floor, knee, hop back, two, three, four.
With St. Patrick’s Day looming at the end of the week, as a well-bred American felt it my duty to share the traditions of the holiday with my Frenchie students. To try and explain the idea of shamrocks, the deliciousness that is a minty McDonald’s shamrock shake, and what exactly is a leprechaun is a feat for the French who really aren’t so familiar with the concept.
I took a sip of a cereal-bowl sized cup of coffee at Les Puces des Batignolles in the 17th. “It’s tricky, you see,” I explained to Kahwehgi. “To explain culturally what a holiday means and is to a country.”
A metallic basket filled with open baguette slices, butter croissants, and buttery pastry balls arrived at our brunch table. I began drooling nearly as much as the baby lazing in the stroller next to me.
Kahwehgi began buttering his butter croissant. “Try me.”
“Well,” How to put it in a nutshell… “Let me share my lesson plan with you.”
To intro the theme of St. Patrick’s Day, I referenced my elementary-aged Parisian students of the 8th arrondissement to the idea of a holiday. Emphasizing the difference between British-English for holiday, which means vacation, between American-English, which means celebration, I got the ball rolling that St. Patrick’s Day is a lucky day. It is a day meant for green, whether in the form of Shamrock Shakes or shamrocks themselves, for green is lucky on St. Patrick’s Day.
The kiddos seemed to get the gist of this agenda. So, I kept going. The harder part was yet to come.
To explain what a leprechaun is.
The complex definition of a leprechaun is that he’s a tale from folklore cast as a little-bearded man mending shoes and stowing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Okay, that’s easy enough to swallow… when explained in English. To combat the language barrier, I explained rainbow and pot of gold as being lucky, and that this little-bearded man was also lucky too.
“What about that dance… the Irish jig?” Kahwehgi’s eyes turned from inquisitive to awe-struck when a bowl of tomato sauce with a bobbing poached egg arrived at the table. I too had to re-focus myself on the conversation and off of Les Puces des Batignolles’s latest culinary wonder.
I leaned towards Kahwehgi, shaking my head side to side. “I stretched the story of mischief just a little.” And I continued to explain the lesson plan.
Lending to the idea of mischief, I told a story that leprechauns like to dance. They like to dance the Irish jig. Incorporating last week’s lessons of “head, shoulders, knees, and toes,” I had the kids dance the Irish jig of “toe, knee, hop back, two, three, four.” Now, I’m referencing a dance I learned way back when I had as many years as the very students I’m now teaching. But, the kids ate it up. They ate it as quickly as I ate my salmon eggs benedict.
“I feel more Irish just listening to you,” my Parisian-Moroccan smiled at me.
And I think the French kids felt more Irish-American dancing the jig along with me.
Les Puces des Batignolles, 110 rue Legendre 75017 – Brunch!
*Kahwehgi is a nickname intended for the anonymity of this blog