Monday, June 23, 2014

France is nuts

.. and I say that from a position of being at least 25% French.  My mother was born in France of a French mother and a father who was half Irish and half English.

But since my daughter moved to France when she was less than twenty years old, I have suffered secondhand from the extremely weird laws they have there. I used to imagine retiring to France, let me tell you now, the only reason I visit that country is to spend time with my daughter and her children.

Why you ask? I could spill out a whole lot of bile from past experiences. But I won't because that bile is mostly a result of personalities and luckily I have met some wonderful people in France and had some unforgettable experiences so I will not spoil that with the bitterness that could be overpowering. (Thank you Sonia and the Ponsich family, and Karl, for saving France for me).

So, where was I? Yes, when my first grandchild was born I promised my daughter that he would get to spend summers in the US with me ( his granny ) and as soon as he turned eleven I came and got him. He spent 6 weeks with me, and thankfully my (relatively) new husband supported this visit and accepted my grandson as his own. Two years later, once again he visited, this time with his younger brother, sadly they could only spend a month with us as their parents were then separated and their father was not prepared to sacrifice any of his time with them to allow them to stay longer - and who could blame him? .. I did feel resentful on their behalf, but I did understand. OK, at least I try to.

So, this year I was so looking forward to my two grandsons visiting again. I booked my flights to go pick them up, booked flights for them to return with me, only two and half weeks for many reasons, but two and half weeks with my grandsons was so much more than I usually get, living 5K miles away from them.

The last time they visited, their passports were about to expire, so I started reminding my daughter in lots of time, before Christmas about renewing their passports. In Feb she filed to renew, being France they are nuts and she did that at her local town hall. They gave her an appointment in April to pick up the passports.They assured her she could NOT pick up the passports without an appointment. She dutifully arrived on the appointed day and the machines were out of order so they gave her another appointment in late May, when she arrived that day she was told that they couldn't give her the passports as she didn't have the boys with her, it was their father's turn to have them. So, another appointment was set for 2nd July, just 11 days before they were due to leave for the US with me.

Then, the last week of June she got a call from the Town Hall to tell her that as she had not picked up the passports within 3 months of their issue date, they were now expired and she would need to reapply. Two days before I headed to Ireland to see my new baby granddaughter, then to France to pick up my two grandsons 'sans' passports.

She called the central passport office and they were less than helpful until she was finally transferred to someone who knew (or appeared to  know) what she was talking about. She was given the address of a location close to her where she did NOT have to make an appointment to collect passports. She was told that if she could submit the application before that Wednesday it 'might' be ready in time. But she was out of cash. She called me in a panic because she needed to get new photos, pay a second renewal fee and there was just not enough time. I sent her the cash to cover the immediate costs and started to panic silently. Where the hell is the silver lining I ask myself?

Bear in mind, at NO time did anyone ever tell her that she had to pick up the passports within 3 months, and the Town Hall made an appointment which was effectively after the expiry date of the passports. Has your brain expolded yet? Mine is about to!

Then I took a deep breath and thought about the Universe. How much I preach to my daughter to trust the Universe. So, what will be will be. I will carry on as though my two boy are returning with me, and if they can't I will try to explain to them that perhaps the Universe knew something we didn't, perhaps it was better for them they didn't at that time.

Oh I do hope that the Universe wants them to come to TX with their doting grandmother. And if not, I hope it has the decency to let me know why quickly! before I give up on the whole idea. I am currently working very hard at trusting the universe. I will let you know how it goes.