I just got back from the San Francisco Airport. That’s twice in one week I’ve been a teary mess leaving that place. It’s possible I might be out of tears at this point — I told Ben Blair that everyone who is at home needs to hold still for a second while I catch my breath.
As promised, I wanted to tell you more about Maude’s opportunity and how she ended up flying to Paris today. The whole thing happened very quickly (holy cow so fast!) and I’m still wrapping my head around it. Because Maude LOVES her high school. The high school itself, and the experiences she’s had there. Maude has excellent grades. She’s active in student leadership. She’s been the captain of the Cross Country Team, and the Track team. She has an amazing group of friends that I adore. She loves school. And I wouldn’t have predicted this change of events for her.
But this summer, she went on a pilgrimage, and it really seemed to get her thinking about a different trajectory for her life. She started bringing up the idea of trying an international experience instead of returning to high school for her senior year. At first, I wasn’t sure she was serious about not returning, because like I said, she loves high school. But she was persistent about bringing it up.
As she looked to her senior year, she craved a new challenge. She knew if she returned to high school, she would make the most of it, and jump in with both feet, and take a challenging course load, and be super involved. But she had already done that. All of that. She had accomplished those things. She had been successful at those things. And she didn’t feel like there were many new challenges waiting for her. I would ask her what about Prom? What about senior year traditions? She wasn’t worried about missing them. She said, “I’ve been to Mormon Prom. That’s plenty of prom for me. If I’m in Oakland, of course, I’ll want to go. But Prom isn’t worth more to me than trying something new.”
There were a lot of really good and interesting people on the pilgrimage and hearing their stories, I think she started to think about her life in the third person, like she was observing her life. How did she want to describe herself. What experiences did she want to have that she could tell people about?
She kept bringing up the idea of an international adventure, and eventually we said, well, if you’re serious about this, there are a lot of things to work out. The biggest two: 1) What would you need to do to graduate? And 2) Where would you go, and for how long?We told her to start with those two, and if we can figure them out, we’ll take this seriously. But until then, we’re just considering it a fun idea.
Maude started searching for opportunties. Japan was high on her list. Also Norway. She liked the idea of learning another language. But no options seemed very solid. So it just remained an idea. Then, the day we arrived home from France for the summer, she got a text from her cousin — a family in France was looking for an American to work as an Au Pair/English Teacher for 18 hours per week, in exchange for room and board. Maude’s eyes lit up at the news.
There were two kids, age 7 and 9. She would pick them up from school, take them home on the Metro, help them with homework and make them dinner. And she would speak only in English with the kids (because their parents want them to learn). One night per week, she would put them to bed so the parents could have a date. Other than that, her time would be her own.
She would have her own studio apartment in Paris! She’s visited many times, but never lived in Paris. What an opportunity! It sounded perfect. She was definitely into it, but there were still a lot of unknowns. Would they want to hire Maude? What dates did they need her? And what about high school???
On the first day of school, just two days after we arrived home, she went straight to her guidance counselor and told her about the opportunity in France. The counselor was super supportive and very excited. She went through Maude’s schedule and attended to any missing details — like some PE credit that she earned from Track & Field, but that hadn’t made it onto her transcript. And she added up everything Maude still needed to graduate. Turns out it was only two classes! Just English and Gov/Econ.
So then we all talked together about Maude’s options. Maude’s transcript is in great shape to apply for college and we all (counselor, Maude and parents) want to make sure it stays that way. The counselor said there were online classes Maude could take to complete the two missing classes. Once finished, Maude could show the documentation to her counselor and the classes would be added to her high school transcript.
The counselor specifically mentioned there were certain online classes offered through BYU that are UC-approved (UC = University of California schools). We laughed that it was BYU, because she didn’t know that’s where Ben Blair and I went to school. (Funny coincidence.) The counselor said that if Maude completed her online work, she could come back and graduate with her class. This was music to Maude’s ears.
Maude wasn’t positive that she for sure wanted to do this, she was still exploring options. But once she had her school situation sorted, she started talking with the French family in earnest. She officially expressed interest and starting asking for more info. What kind of experience did she need to have? What dates did she need to commit to? What would the living situation be like? What neighborhood does the family live in? Could she get an Au Pair Visa — meaning, would she have permission to stay in France for the length of time needed?
The family was interested and wanted to hire her. They needed her to commit for a full school year. And they didn’t know anything about the Visa but were willing to write any necessary letters or contracts.
Maude started researching Visa options. And she hit a dead end. She couldn’t even get an appointment with the French Visa office here in San Francisco until the end of October. Alas, the host family needed her by September 2oth! Another bummer: from what she could tell, the French government won’t allow her to apply for the Visa when she’s already in France. The appointment needs to take place here in the States.
So then she made plan B. She would go to France from September 20th to December 20th — she can legally stay for 3 months without getting a specific visa — and then, when she’s home for Christmas, she’ll have her appointment with the Visa office here in San Francisco.
She communicated the Plan B idea to the host family and they approved. (Though admittedly, everyone involved is not quite sure what will happen if her Visa doesn’t get approved in December. Can she go back for another 3 months? Which would give her host family time to find a replacement? Not sure. She’ll do everything she can to prepare for the Visa appointment and then we’ll all hope for the best.)
Now that she had options for school worked out, visa questions sorted, and she knew the host family wanted to hire her, she had a big decision to make. Did she really want to do this? Or should she go ahead and continue her senior year?
I say “continue” because she’s been going to school every single day since it started. This has all come together very quickly and she wasn’t sure if it would really work out, so she wanted to keep going to classes just in case. That, and she loves her friends and loves high school and hates to miss out. : )
Ultimately, she had two good paths available to her and she knew it. She thought long and hard and decided Paris was the path she wanted to take.
She came to us with her decision and we talked out the possibilities. This was all happening very fast. As you know if you’ve been reading for awhile, we’re quite enthusiastic about International experiences, but when Ralph and Olive did a semester abroad, it had been planned for many months — over a year in Ralph’s case. And this was all happening within a couple of weeks.
Ultimately, we said yes, but we had four conditions: 1) She needed to reconfirm with her counselor that she could graduate with her class. 2) She couldn’t go unless she had her college applications in order. 3) She would have to have a daily Skype check-in with us while she was there — part of which would be us nagging her about her coursework. And 4) She needed to enroll in a local class of some sort while she’s there. Something that would help her make new friends in Paris.
Speaking of her college applications, they are coming along. She’s done with the UC apps except for her 4 essays, which she won’t submit until after November 1st (which is the earliest she can submit them). She has solid drafts of all four essays. She works on them on a google doc and every time she completes a new draft, she’ll share it with us and we’ll suggest edits.
But as for her non-UC applications, she hasn’t started yet, because the other schools she’s interested in don’t open applications until mid-October. But I’m not worried. All the info she’s put together for the UC applications (like her extra-curricular info, job experience, etc.) will help her finish her other applications more easily. We mapped out all the due dates and a task list before she left, and our daily check-in will (hopefully!) make sure deadlines are being met.
Maude is amazing, and I’m so excited that she has this awesome adventure ahead of her. But emotionally, I’m all over the place. This definitely feels different than a mission. I can talk to her or text her whenever. And we already have her return ticket for December 20th, so we know we’ll see her in just 3 months. But it also feels like she’s officially moving out. Assuming the Au Pair Visa works out and she’s there all year, then what? She’ll be home for a couple of months and then head to college? So strange to think of.
I really thought I had another year with her, and I kept having this feeling at the airport, with panic-ed heart beats: This is it? This is the whole amount of time I had to parent you? The clock has already run out? What if I forgot to teach you something? What if I didn’t hug you enough? Or say enough kind things? It’s too fast! I already miss you!!
Ben Blair had to keep talking me off the cliff on the way home. Between tears, I asked, “What if it’s the wrong decision? What if we should have said no? What if it’s awful?” Ben said, “Then she’ll come home.”
Then I asked, “What if after all the research and planning and checking, this still messes up her transcript? She’s worked so hard for so many years!” Ben answered, “Her applications are due before this this semester is finished. France or no France, her transcript wouldn’t change for the college applications. And even if by some fluke she doesn’t get into her favorite colleges right now, there are other pathways that can get her there.”
Then I asked, “What if she can’t go back in January because of Visa issues?” And Ben said, “Then she’ll go back to high school and finish with her friends. She’s actually fine with that.”
And we basically had conversations like this all the way home. It’s not that Ben Blair isn’t worried too. We were just taking turns. I would voice the worry we both felt, and he would respond with the voice of reason that we both know, but that sometimes I’m not very good at summoning.
On a happier note: I think Maude is really going to thrive with this new independence. She hasn’t ever had an experience like this and I think she’ll really love it. She’s smart and responsible and loving and she’ll be an excellent au pair. She’ll love having her own little studio apartment in Paris (who wouldn’t?). She’ll love managing her own schedule, managing her own money. I think it will be a formative adventure. And I’m sure her French will get even better. I’m betting she’ll come back in December with a big dose of confidence.
Also happy: I love that we know lots of wonderful people in France, so that if she’s in trouble there are friends who can help her even though we’re far away. I love that her cousin is across town being an au pair too! I’m so glad they’ll have each other.
That was a long post. If you have thoughts or questions, feel free to comment. And I’d love to hear from any of you who tried an international experience in high school!
P.S. — Thinking about Maude and her senior year, there was a definitely a turning point that I think changed her senior year no matter what. It was after that first appointment with her counselor. Once Maude realized that her schedule could technically just be two classes, I don’t think she ever would have been willing to go back to the original punishing schedule she had planned for her senior year.
P.P.S. — The photo at top was taken by my sister Jordan when we all lived in France. It’s Ralph, Maude and cousin Roxcy on the Seine. Maude and Roxcy can recreate this photo — they’re both in Paris for the year! Roxcy is the cousin who told Maude about this terrific opportunity.
102 thoughts on “Maude in Paris!”
How emotional thinking of one less year with her at home. What a great life experience for her. Was her plan firmed up by the time Ralph left?
Yes. It was firmed up before he left. He was super excited for her.
You are so very brave to send your daughter off. My daughter just went to kindergarten and that seemed hard.
But this does sound like a great opportunity.
I had the same thinking! My daughter (my oldest) just started Kindergarten and, in my mind, I keep thinking “This is going too fast! I’m not ready!”.
Seriously. There are days that the clock just crawls, and then suddenly they are all grown up. I was told I would this way, and it’s true. I don’t know if it’s avoidable.
Wow! Wow! Wow! You guys rock!
What a great kid and what a wonderful adventure! I’m sure your mama heart is a little bit broken, but kudos to you for raising such a cool and adventurous kiddo.
Brave lady! She will love it. The ship is safe in the harbor, but ships are meant to sail!
Your entire family is making brave and exciting decisions!
I’m curious, do your kids read the blog? It seems like an interesting way (of many possible ways) to stay connected with your family if you are far away.
The older 3 do read it (although Ralph won’t be able to while he’s on a mission).
The true beauty in parenting..we want our kids to do great things and take risks and follow their hearts. I love that Maude was given this choice with parameters and guidance. You two are doing a great job as parents and I love the thinking through the options of what could happen. It all sounds like it will work out, whether or not she stays past December. Bon voyage!
Yes, all of this, thanks @Kamisha for articulating it so well! It’s really inspirational for me, as a parent of younger kids (11 & 9) to get a glimpse into parenting older kids/teenagers. I can see my older son really wanting to do something like this – he talks about doing research in Antarctica! – and you & Ben Blair are role models for how to approach this. I love the way you had Maude take responsibility for the planning and organizing. Sometimes as a parent my first instinct is to say no, but this is a lesson in how to remain open to the possibilities, especially if your child is willing to show they have the maturity to make it happen.
Our daughter did something similar for her senior year. She researched and got into a Danish folk high school. She delivered herself to the school one day in Sept and came home in January. Was able to make it an independent study experience and graduated with her class. It was an incredible experience for her, not so much academically but she really grew up. Her school went to Prague, they had great, communal, cultural activities every weekend and she wouldn’t have traded that experience for the world. Opened her up even further to the wider world out there.
Danish folk school? Even the title is appealing.
“Folkeskole” just means public school – though by the late teens, it is only be populated by the less-academic stream since the more college-bound kids have moved on to gymnasium. “Folke” means “the people” but has a stronger resonance, with some of the connotations of the English “folk” except that it’s not so folksy (if that makes sense).
I really thought I had another year with her, and I kept having this feeling at the airport, with panic-ed heart beats: This is it? This is the whole amount of time I had to parent you? The clock has already run out? What if I forgot to teach you something? What if I didn’t hug you enough? Or say enough kind things? It’s too fast! I already miss you!!
My oldest is a sophomore and seems similar to Maude. This paragraph madr me cry so hard because that is exactly how I feel. Raising pur kids goes by just so fast. You guys are amazing parents. She is goong to have a wonderful experience.
Darn, I meant to comment (above). That paragraph made me tear up – my little boy is only 6 and I cannot yet fathom that moment that will come.
I had the same reaction to this paragraph! Tears and a stomach ache! And my daughter is only 3 months!!
O my Gosh! Exactly the same feeling with my toddler who is going to be 3 next October! It is going to be a super experience for Maude!!!
Kisses from Barcelona!
What an emotional few weeks you’ve had! I love that Maude is having this adventure/opportunity. But I teared up at your thoughts about this possibly being the end of your “parenting” her in a certain respect. And my oldest is only in 2nd grade! But I think we constantly wonder, “Did I do enough? Did I do it right? Will they be okay?” And I would say that Maude is going to do awesome given how much thought and planning she has put into such a big choice. We live overseas, and always will for my husband’s job, and we’ve talked about hosting our own nieces and nephews when they are old enough over the summer or something to give them a chance to see the world from a different point of view.
I love you’re thinking about hosting your nieces and nephews some day. We did the same in France. It was great!
I spent my senior year of high school abroad in Brazil. 17 years later and it is still one of the best spur-of-the-moment decisions I’ve ever made. When I got married my Brazilian family came up to MN for our wedding, and just this past March my husband and I took our two kids to meet their Brazilian grandparents and aunt and uncle!
It is such a transformative experience in so many ways. From what I have read you have raised a smart, confident and wonderful young woman. You gave her wings and now she will soar!
Best of luck to you and Maude!
So awesome that you are still connected to your host family!
This just gutted me,
“I really thought I had another year with her, and I kept having this feeling at the airport, with panic-ed heart beats: This is it? This is the whole amount of time I had to parent you? The clock has already run out? What if I forgot to teach you something? What if I didn’t hug you enough? Or say enough kind things? It’s too fast! I already miss you!!”
Are you kidding me? SO HARD. You are amazing parents, and I look up to you so much. Letting go and letting your kids stand on their own two feet is so hard but so wonderful, too. My kids are still little, but my heart beats faster and my throat gets tight when I think about those future days.
That being said… my SIL is 28 and just moved home for a while to get her feet under her a little better. So when that relationship is strong, the kids will always come back- sometimes literally. :)
Wow! What a great opportunity for Maude. That’s the kind of thing that I would have just loved to do in high school. I didn’t really know semesters abroad were possible for high school students at the time!
So I was going to also copy and paste your paragraph that made me tear up, but I see a couple people have already done so. :-) So I’ll just say 1) amazing writing, beautiful! and 2) my oldest is only 7 but this makes me want to go wake all of them up and hug them. So heartbreaking and joyful and scary, I’m sure, to see your kids start leaving for their own lives! Thanks for being such a great example of an open-minded and open-handed parent. <3
You and Ben Blair are great, fantastic loving parents, and you have wonderful, solid, kids. I’m sure your daughter will have a fantastic adventure, and the family she is au-pairing for will be lovely.
My heart yearns for my kids to take these kind of leaps of learning and growing, and I hope me and hubby can do a good job of giving our girls (11,8 and 5) these kinds of opportunities. Prayers and hugs your way!
How brave of you to let her go. That’s exactly what I admire in parenting : letting them go & try. A life-changing experience, for the best !
You haven’t mentionned in which neighbourhood she’ll be staying, but if it happened to be near mine (South West of Paris, 15e) and if she needs extra money from time to time, I’ll be delighted to have her bbsitting my French kids when we go out ! Feel free to give her my email.
I will totally share your email. Maude is a great babysitter!
We’re in touch !
Dear Gabrielle and Maude,
I can’t say how hard it must be to see two of your children leave home at the same time, my son being only 2 years old. But I can say WELCOME TO PARIS, Maude.
I am sending an email your way in case Maude wants to get in touch, come for lunch one of those days or anything else.
Thank you, Lucie!
This is so awesome! I love that you guys embrace unique paths for your kids. I think that will shape them into the best adults.
What an exciting time for the Blairs! Best wishes to Maude as she starts on her grand adventure, and best wishes to the rest of you as you adjust and grow.
Also—I kind of want to send her a copy of Betsy and the Great World by Maud (!) Hart Lovelace to start her off—have you read those books? Such classics.
I have never heard of Betsy and the Great World. Off to look it up!
That is so exciting! Sounds like something I would do in HS. I lived in Europe (with my family granted) but more than once travelled to another country by myself. I hope that my 1 year old daughter will be so brave one day. I would love for her to have such adventures! Congrats on raising such an amazing daughter!!
This sounds fantastic, and in some ways a better idea than a gap year — I bet there are lots of students who end up just needing two or three courses to finish high school, which makes senior year a little bit of a waste. I’m filing the idea away for when my son is old enough!
I did the same thing at her age… and never moved back to the US…
I ended up going to the university in France, getting a job, falling in love and marrying a French man…
I had two other friends with me… One went back half the way…
The third one did two years instead of one and went back to the US…
Anyway, we are all fine and though our experiences were quite different, it really was good for all of us.
My oldest is a senior this year as well & decided to live this year with her father. Lots of background & not so happy details there but I had a lot of the same questions. Did I teach her everything I needed to? Did she absorb it? Is this it?? I’ve been a mess. I keep working on trusting that I raised a strong young woman. It certainly sounds like you did.
Her own studio apartment in Paris! How dreamy! Good for you, and her, for thinking outside of the box.
It’s on the same property as the host family, but has a separate entrance. Hopefully it feels both connected and independent.
Next time please include a disclaimer “emotions ahead. Do not read without tissues”
Already the first lines made me choke, then I got goosebumps and finally the tears rolled in.
What an emotional journey -for the reader, too!!!
The best/worst bit was: “This is it? This is the whole amount of time I had to parent you? The clock has already run out? What if I forgot to teach you something? What if I didn’t hug you enough? Or say enough kind things? ”
My eldest is only 10 and already now I get feelings like that.
The biggest compliment of your upbringing must be that she fells free to go. Free to go out and conquer the world. She is happily sharing her plans with you so this is another proof for doing ‘everything’ right. Someone above wrote: You rock!
Yeah! You sure do!
A small part of me was also sad because my time for going out and conquering the world just like that seems to be a thing of the past by now.
They grow sooo fast and time flies *gulp*
Pregnant with my first, Katharina, and that paragraph completely gutted me. It really does go so fast.
Excellent writing as always, Gabrielle. Exited to hear more about Maude’s adventures!
So many paths and unexpected journeys in parenting! My second child should be a senior this year, but about May, decided she was ready to move on to college. As opposed to Maude, high school hasn’t been happy or challenging and she was just so done. She actually didn’t end up graduating early, the college she wanted to attend (Southern Virginia University, although BYU will take you without a HS diploma too) just took her without the graduation (under some homeschooling clause exception) and with a top scholarship there, we’re hoping it never really matters unless she doesn’t finish college someday and has to take the GED. I have many of your emotions too, but she’s thriving and was ready to move on. Best wishes as you transition to the revolving door stage of parenting!
Oh I hear that. High school just isn’t the right fit for every kid. I love that you mentioned some universities don’t require a high school diploma. Good to remember for families looking at alternative paths.
Goodness, I love your blog. I learn so much about parenting and life. Thanks for sharing. You’re helping us all in the journey.
What an exciting opportunity! We will be staying in Paris for 10 days in April with our 7-year-old daughter. Maybe Maude can do a guest post on fun things to do with kids in Paris!
So exciting for Maude! I was a high school exchange student in France in 2001-02. I remember wrapping up that wonderful year and deciding between going to college in the U.S. as I had planned, or staying. Either way, even though I had a wonderful childhood and love my parents dearly, I never lived at home with my parents again, or anywhere even close to them.
Now I have small kids of my own. I want them to be adventurous and go anywhere, but it kills me to think that my time with them in my daily life is finite. We are on the fence about having another child, but reading about your life makes me want to go for it. You make a large family seem so doable. Reading about your kids hitting adulthood , I can’t imagine both of mine leaving home at the same time a decade and a half from now, ending my active parenting days in one fell swoop. I am sure it is so, so hard to see the oldest two go, but what a blessing to have them choose to leave for such fulfilling reasons, and to have many more years of kids in the house still ahead.
This is so inspiring! I’m in awe of Maude’s self-direction and confidence! And I so admire your bravery as a parent. What an exciting adventure. I can’t quite fathom letting my kids (ages 7 and 10) go off on an adventure like this yet, but it gives me hope that if the stars align for them with such an opportunity when they are older, I’ll be able to let them fly. This gift of independence will serve her so well in life. Hugs to you, Gabby. And a big high five to Maude!
Kudos to the parents for knowing their ultimate job is in letting go. Maude will have a wonderful year and the time of her life. Who knows? Maybe even going off to traditional college will feel too confining after this. But it’s HER LIFE! I think the counselor was great and it makes me wonder why our HS kids are put through such torture. Mine are well past that but I remember it all well and don’t miss those days a bit. Gabby I hope you’ll tell us how it feels around the house to go from two elderly teenagers around to a house full of littles again! Do you and BB feel younger? Are you missing all the help?
It’s only Wednesday and I’m already feeling the difference. I’ll have to write up my thoughts and see if they make a blog post.
Wow – what an adventurous crew you’ve been raising. Well done, Blair-parents. My mama-heart aches for you. It’s truly never enough time, but when they change their plans in an instant, you don’t even have time to truly come to terms with it until it’s done. Blessings on you guys as you navigate all of these “growing pains”.
“This is it? This is the whole amount of time I have to parent you?” Sob! I’m expecting my first child in February, and the next 20 years of raising this child seem terrifying to me, but also the eventual goodbye! You are wonderful parents and an example of how to honor your children and their path while making sure you provide solid guidance. Good luck!
Wow! In tears! Good for you for letting her go! What an extraordinary experience for her. Such a gift!
Not quite the same but my study abroad in Rome was a life changing experience for me and I hope my kids will also take the chance to live abroad on their own one day. I will definitely encourage it.
How you approach parenthood is so inspirational! So much food for thought about how to help our children fulfill their dreams… thanks for sharing.
Our son took a gap year (after applying, accepting and deferring the college of his choice) and spent a year in Vienna, Austria working as an au pair for an Austrian couple with two school age children (he was fluent in German after spending a high school exchange year in Switzerland). What your daughter will quickly realize is that there is a large network of au pairs in Paris and she can connect with them via social media. It will be a very welcoming community regardless of whether the au pairs are part of an agency, or more independent (which my son was as he found his family via an online service). Encourage your daughter to reach out to these other au pairs as they will all share a similar desire to explore the world and it’s great to have a network beyond their host families. Best wishes – our son was able to visit his Austrian family last year while on his university semester abroad in Switzerland – needless to say it was a happy reunion!
Oh. Of course! I hadn’t thought of that. All the au pairs connecting! Love it.
Wow! It starts happening so fast, these birds leaving the nest. It’s great, but also a little sad. Thrilled for your kids! They seem like awesome people.
What an exciting time for Maude! I can’t imagine what an emotional week it must have been for you. I hope you will keep us updated on Maude’s time abroad as you are able.
You’ve done well, Mom! Hugs to you!
Wow. This post really hit me hard–the Blair kids are growing up! I got all teary thinking about Maude and her desire to have new experiences, her ambition, dedication, and courage. You’ve taught her and guided her to a wonderful future.
Will Maude go on a mission or is Ralph the only one?
That’s totally up to Maude. She’s 17 now, so she has a couple of years before she’s old enough to go, or really even think about it.
A longtime (but almost always quiet) reader here! :-) I just HAD to chime in. First of all a big, big congratulations to your daughter! I am SO pleased for Maude. What an immense adventure! Your children are very fortunate to have such kind, caring parents,–and, I bet, siblings! :-)
I spent my formative years living in different countries. As an adult, I can’t thank my family enough for those experiences. If Maude is anything like me, she may feel a little like she’s being asked to learn how to swim in the ice-cold ocean at the beginning of her stay, but it’ll get easier in no time. I bet she’ll feel like Paris is her second home after a year. :-)
A few years ago I actually moved abroad to study law, and I wanted to make one small comment about Maude’s visa. Will she be working for her new family when she arrives in France?
I bet you’ve already thought about this and spoken with the French consulate in California, but just on the off chance you have not done so yet, have you looked into the work permit requirements in France?
French employment law is not my area of specialty, however, from the little I know, I can say that as a third country national (not part of the EEC), Maude will need valid French work permit. Work permits are generally obtained at her particular préfecture in France. Even if she is not compensated with money, the French may still consider what she does to be ‘employment’—because the family is gaining a distinct benefit from her work and because she is receiving compensation. Work permit rules are fairly strict enforced across the EEC (European Economic Community) and she may fall foul with their rules if she’s not super careful. The most pressing consequence of that would be that she could jeopardizse her chances to be granted a visa in December.
Which would be an awful shame. :( I REALY REALLY hope this hasn’t sent your anxieties through the roof! I am so sorry to write something so urgent-sounding. I thought long and carefully about what to write–and if I SHOULD as a complete stranger. But then I thought on the off chance you had not discussed these matters with anyone, it would be better to have a reader gently point you that way, rather than realizing these issues a few months down the road. If you’d like do email me, please, do. I am not a qualified lawyer (yet), an know not much about French employment law, but I am happy to help if I can.
All the best!!!
Good points, Anna! I am an immigration lawyer, and I wondered this myself. While I don’t practice law in France, an arrangement like this would never work in the U.S. If an individual came here as a tourist and worked as a teacher/sitter for a family (even if there was no financial compensation) and then returned home to apply for a work visa at a U.S. consulate, he/she would almost certainly be denied because of the previous unauthorized employment. The definition of “employment” under our immigration laws is very broad, and like I mentioned, it encompasses situations where there no money is exchanged.
You all are very sophisticated, so more likely than not you’ve looked into this. As you stated, if she’s denied, she can remain here and finish the school year. But while I was reading this, I was struck by two things: 1) the beautiful expression of your love for your daughter; and 2) how I would never recommend that anyone outside the country interested in a work opportunity in the States attempt this.
Thank you, Anna. As you can imagine, Visa research is a big thing at our house at the moment. We have some experience with it because we had to get Visas for the whole family when we moved to France, and then we had to renew them. But it’s definitely a different process for 1 person.
This morning I remembered that the kids were issued longer term visas after we’d been in France for two years. Those extended visas are still current, so now we’re finding out if Maude’s will apply to her situation. If it does, then that would be awesome!
I wouldn’t worry about Maude. All “Maudes” are clever people. they love travelling and new adventures. They are very cautious in mind and they don’t give in quickly and they are very aware of what is around them, from good to bad and I am sure Maude will be fine. She will enjoy herself. Paris is the most adorable and beautiful city in the world. Enjoy yourself Maude and trust me you will never forget Paris! Cheers!
Yay for Maudes!
Ahh, so exciting for Maude!! And this – made me tear up, even though my baby is less than a year old! “This is it? This is the whole amount of time I had to parent you? The clock has already run out? What if I forgot to teach you something? What if I didn’t hug you enough? Or say enough kind things? It’s too fast! I already miss you!!”
I think this is amazing!!!! I hope when my kids are old enough, opportunities like this will open up for them too. Will certainly be on the lookout.
I hope Maude has a wonderful adventure!
Bon voyage! I was an au pair for a year between high school and college and it was an awesome experience. Your class plan – so that she has a way to make friends – is very smart!
What a big and fun adventure for Maude! I must say, you really inspire me to parent outside of the mold, and I love that. Thanks for being a breath of fresh air in the internet.
I am so taken with the photo of Maude that you posted! The adventure, determination and fierceness in her eyes is palpable. She’s got this. Maude is going to be just fine. ;)
So excited for Maude! And can only imagine the mixed emotions of thrill and pain you must have. When I was 16, I left to Belgium as a Rotary exchange student, just one month before my brother left to college. My parents very suddenly had an empty nest and were totally unprepared for that! While I know it was difficult for them to get used to, it was by far my most formative year in my memory. It completely changed me and my direction in life. I am so incredibly grateful to my parents and Rotary for giving me that opportunity.
Yes to Rotary! When we were in France, we hosted a little reception for a Rotary group visiting from the U.S.. Loved it.
This really was a wonderful post. I think it is my favorite. I did not want to stop reading. I am excited for Maude.