Thursday, September 3, 2009

La Rentrée

That is what they call "back to school" in French, but all of French life revolves around school. Even people who don't have kids go on vacation in July or August and talk about "la rentrée" in September. We try to avoid watching the news in September because they talk about la rentrée ad nauseum.

Benjamin had his first "rentrée" today, or as one of the neighbors called it, "la grande rentrée" (the "big" one, since it was his first). He could have attended last year, but I really thought not-quite-3 was too young, and we were gone down south for 3 months anyway.

As I probably mentioned before, this is a one-room schoolhouse set-up, and his school includes children in the 2 years of preschool and one of kindergarten ("école maternelle") and first grade ("CP"). There are 3 other children in his class, the "moyenne section" (second year preschool).

His school is located in a nearby village, about 2.5 km from our house.

It is right next to the church, in which, like in our village, they probably have mass once every 3 months or so.

This is the courtyard door; this is where the kids go in and out, and it is here that the parents gather to drop off or pick up their kids.
When we got there this morning, we found out we were supposed to have brought slippers for him (not sure how we were supposed to know this since we had zero communication from the teacher beforehand), and we discovered that the director and the teacher are the same person (and I felt quite old seeing this guy who looked to be in his 20s teaching my kid).

Benjamin seemed to feel right at home as we walked in the door and he saw there were toys. I called him over to say goodbye, and he said, "So, bye bye, Mommy." I believe that translated to, "Get out of here, Mom, you're cramping my style."

Here he is when we picked him today, he was saying, "I like school."
He didn't tell us much about it, but the teacher told us he asked for "Papa" at one point (and Benjamin later told me he cried and said he wanted Daddy to go to school with him - whether he actually cried, I have no idea, I sort of doubt it, though). And he told us very proudly that he had spoken French at school. We have been insisting on the fact that he'd have to speak French at school for a few weeks already.

There is some talk of swimming class but we haven't determined yet whether that is for all the students or perhaps only the first graders. Frederic is supposed to ask tomorrow because if it is for Benjamin, we'll have to go find him a swimming cap before Tuesday. Speaking of odd school supplies!

The first parents' informational meeting is on Tuesday (why four days AFTER school starts and not BEFORE, I'll never know) but as we have no babysitter, only one of us will be able to attend. So either I can go, and having no frame of reference for French schooling, I may not understand half of it, or Frederic can go, and forget to tell me half of it when he gets home. Hmph.

It's not actually much of a break to have him gone for 3 hours in the morning. He's pretty self-entertaining most of the time, and the hassle of getting him and Noah up and dressed on time to go, then driving there to drop him off and pick him up sort of cancels out any time benefit there might be. When you haven't had a babysitter in almost 4 years, it's a little strange to all of a sudden be expected to entrust your child to someone else, especially someone else you've never met and know nothing about, but anyway - I survived his first day, too, and did NOT cry, in case anyone is wondering.


evidlaine said...

Bonjour , vous tous
Je viens aux nouvelles , comment c'est passer la rentrée de Benjamin ?
bien j'espère , il n'a pas pleuré ?
J'ai vu aussi la vidéo genial les premiers pas de Noah. Je suis contente.
Gros bisous à vous tous à bientôt.
je vois que vous avez mon pseudo en dessous d'une autre adresse mail , surtout n'envoyer pas de message là-bas car je n'y vais pas souvent. merci !...bisous

Aims said...

Ah what a big day!! Good job, Benjamin for braving such a strange new world that will become something his little world will revolve around for so many years, and good job Mama for not crying through it (I have to admit that I did with mine!)

Wishing you were closer, and we'd take Noah in tow during your few relatively "free" hours and chat at Starbucks... Missing you, friend! :)

Sandi said...

I'm glad it went pretty well -- it looks like a lovely school, on the outside anyway! Yeaay, Benjamin!! It will be interesting to see how soon his French starts picking up!