Journal of H. W. | email@example.com
Week Four, Day Six – Sophomore Year
Editor’s Note: Honey’s journal entries are numbered according to week and day of the week. As she does not keep daily entries, gaps appear in the numbering. Please see the Table of Contents for the full listing of entries.
“When the children earn marks of très bien in school, we will have a big party to celebrate,” M. Villareal said, “and you will bake the cake!”
“But I won’t be here when they bring home their A grades,” I replied. “The term is nearly over, and I’ll be returning to my old school.”
“Impossible!” he shouted.
“But it’s impossible to stay, isn’t it?”
I must admit everything was working out so well here, especially now that our old dean was here as a visiting professor, that I really wanted to stay.
I had earned A’s for this year, and I had a good head start for next year’s A’s, too.
Life was a lot better for me here. I fit in. I’d made so many friends–way more than I had ever made back at my old school, when I’d been too shy to even talk to anybody other than my dorm mates.
And the culture accelerated my learning.
And then there were the Villareals. They were doing great.
It made a difference to have somebody cook and keep house for them. And the kids had started to do well at school. They got along with each other, too.
I liked to think that all of the good habits and patterns we’d established this year would continue, and that they’d continue to thrive without me next year. Or maybe they’d get another au pair who would do an even better job.
“I don’t like you anymore, Mademoiselle Honey Walker,” M. Villareal said to me at breakfast. “How can I like someone who would abandon us just because the end of her school program has arrived? Non! I detest you! You and your abandoning ways!”
He has a flair for the dramatic, so I didn’t take his declaration seriously at first.
But while I was practicing, I began to think of how sad he and the children had seemed before I came.
Luna had told me that she had given up trying to fill in the spot that her mom had left. She could never keep up with the cleaning, and no matter how much cooking she did, it seemed they always ran out of food. Nothing was enough. Rather than try to do something she wasn’t equipped to do well, she had simply stopped trying. “That’s why Max was always yelling at me,” she confided. “He wanted me to be somebody that I couldn’t.”
Taking care of the house and the children hasn’t been a burden for me–it’s been fun! I love the way the counters look when they’re clean. I love trying out new meals. I find it rewarding to help the kids with their homework, to encourage them, and to listen to them.
“I’m afraid you can kiss your good grades good-bye!” Jacques said to Luna the next morning. “You will be so busy cleaning and cooking and taking care of your brothers, you will have no time to study. Au revoir, très bien! Bon jour, insuffisant!”
“Oh, Dad, what are you going on about? You know we did just fine before Honey got here, and we’ll do just fine after she leaves, too.”
“Ah, the delusions of youth!” said M. Villareal. “To be young! To be always in denial!”
If I could choose, I realized while I was cleaning the kitchen, I would stay.
I like being here. It feels like home.
Maybe I could choose! Maybe I could stay, at least for another year!
I called Dr. Dean. She’d been offered a two-year position here, with the possibility of extending it.
When I asked if she thought I could stay for another year, she said that it was a bit late–there was so much paperwork that had to be done.
“But I’d sponsor you in a heartbeat,” she said. “Let me do some checking and get back to you.”
I practiced while I waited. Scales are the best thing for helping me sort through what I really want. It became clear: I really wanted to stay, not just for the Villareals, but for myself.
When Dr. Dean called to say that she’d pulled a few strings and it was a done deal–I could finish up my studies there if I wanted–I was delighted!
I ran downstairs to the wine cellar and found M. Villareal.
“What would you say if your kids could earn A’s after all, and if we could have that party, and if I could bake a big fat blanc et noir cake because I’m not leaving, after all?”
“You would stay?” he asked. “You would do that, for a miserable old man and his rotten brats?”
“Well,” I replied, “I could say that I would do that for a nice older gentleman and his three remarkable children. But the truth is that I would do this for me! And if you’re willing to have me here for another term or two–or even until I graduate–I would love to stay!”