Family Appreciation This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   We can't take our families for granted. I learned thatthis summer during a three week trip to France. The first week was a family stay.

My first day in France, I sat in the hotel lobby and watched other peopleget picked up by their French families. I was growing tired waiting for mine. Ihadn't slept on the long plane ride, so I had been awake for 28 hours, and hadjust come back from a three-mile walk through Paris. My French family finallycame, an hour late. I was the second to last one picked up. The ride to theirhouse felt like an eternity. In the front seat were the people I was to call Momand Dad for the week. The father, cigarette in hand, was conversing with thequiet, red-haired mother. I was in the back seat alone because my brother for theweek didn't feel like coming along to pick me up. I felt alone and scared. Imissed my real family already.

The week was horrendous. My"family" mocked my way of life, and when I did things differently thanthey, they laughed at me. The way I ate and spoke French also made them laugh.People spoke to me all at once, some pointing and laughing, in a language that Iknew only through a textbook back in America. I found myself praying for my realfamily and for help to get through the week. Trying to fall asleep at night, Iwould think about my real family and all the things we do together. I wanted towake up the next morning to my mother tapping me on the shoulder, telling me itwas past noon. Instead, I woke up knowing I had to spend more time with thesestrangers I was supposed to call family. A week that was intended to teach meFrench culture was instead a week of being ignored and thinking of home wheneverFrench "Seinfeld" came on the television the family never turned off.My only friend that week was my journal.

When I said good-bye to my Frenchhosts, I tried to sound sincere, but if only they knew my feelings! I felt happyto return to the Paris hotel, anger toward this family for ignoring me and shamefor myself. I was ashamed of having taken my real family for granted, and for notalways being cooperative. As I entered the hotel I thought, How could I ever havethought of these people as my family? I have the best one ever back home.

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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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