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And for once I’m not (just) talking about cheating ex-spouses.

Kid #3 has been pretty excited about the opportunity to go on a school trip to France. She vacillated between wanting to do it Junior or Senior year and settled on Junior year. This fall.

Which meant filling out a six-page application, including writing a letter in French to the host family, finding photos of herself and family that fit certain guidelines, having me sign several places swearing to cover any medical expenses she might incur abroad, and attaching a check for $200 as a deposit.

One of the questions on my part of the application was “Can you be a host family in 2017?” There were three choices given as answers: Yes, No, Maybe. I circled “Maybe.”

Apparently, Madame was unhappy with this and sent an email to me and two other parents castigating our general shiftlessness. She wrote:

“I noticed that on the bottom of the application, when asked if you could host in 2017, you answered “NO” or “MAYBE”. I wanted to clarify that our French exchange program is exactly that, an exchange. It is not a tourist trip. The student that hosts your son or daughter in 2016 will be coming here in 2017, and ideally they will be staying with you. Unless there is a compelling reason for you not to host, it is our expectation that you will host your child’s French partner in February of 2017. An exchange works best when there is reciprocity: the French families take care of your children, and in return you take care of theirs.”

I would have liked to have gotten that whole “exchange” thing prior to writing a check for 200 bucks and having to contact Voldemort for a notarized passport form (which took two tries and about a month to handhold him through). I also could’ve better managed my kid’s expectations had I known hosting was required.

Because not every family has two parents anymore. And even in two parent families, there isn’t necessarily an adult available to run kids around on field trips during the school day, for crying out loud. I fully acknowledge that I feel defensive about the fact that I had to tell this random French teacher that I’m a single mom finishing a college degree and re-entering the workforce. That I have absolutely no idea what kind of job I’ll have in a year and may very well not be available to provide the services she’s expecting.

That’s why I circled “Maybe.” Maybe it won’t be an issue. Maybe it will be a problem. I don’t frigging know.

If hosting is a requirement to participate, why offer three choices on the application? Why not simply state the requirement and make the parent sign off on that just like parents are required to sign off on covering medical expenses?

Kid #3 is now angry and embarrassed. If her parents had managed to stay married, there would be two seemingly responsible adults to deal with these details and a 5-bedroom house for her French partner to stay in. It wouldn’t be any problem at all. Instead we’ve got anger and angst all over the place.

Plus, I don’t speak French.

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