It’s the big day, the first day of elementary school, the reéntree.
Rees again opts to sleep in (his first day is Sep 9th), Kadin, Greg, and I hop on the bus. Who do we see on the bus? Carina and Sam! Hooray! Makes for a very nice, relaxed ride to school.
At the school it is a little more festive than it has been. Just like at Mesa, there are signs for all the classes in different parts of the playground. The equivalent of the PTO has set up a table with coffee and juice for parents.
Kadin is in the class CM1, one level below the top level in the school. Basically 4th grade, just like he would be back home. CP is 1st grade then CE1 and CE2 then CM1 and CM2. CM2 is a bit of a grind we’ve heard because they prepare for entrance exams to competitive middle schools. Glad Kadin avoids this! Perfect placement.
Sam is in CE2, 3rd grade. His name is on a class list. There are two CM1 classes, but Kadin’s name is not on either of the lists. I am meanwhile in the office, proudly giving the headmistress a list of our new phone numbers. Seems there is no secretary, only the headmistress, so there is a bit of a line for her. I overhear some people say their kids aren’t on any list. Realize now I must have overheard this in French because I don’t recall any English going on. When Greg and Kadin show me how his name is not on any list, I go back and find the English teacher. She says that is because Kadin is supposed to come with her. Phew!
There are three English teachers and they take about half a dozen students up to the classroom and invite the parents to stay for the first few minutes. Kadin was fine, calm, and ready to go, so I didn’t really feel the need to see his classroom, but something about the invitation struck me more as a request than an invitation. So Greg and I go up with the class. Turns out we are the only parents who took the teachers up on their invitation.
The teachers are very nice and explain that in English class the kids are not allowed to speak French and in French class they are not allowed to speak English. They have the students introduce themselves and they learn a little bit about each one. The teachers want to start with a writing assessment so they know better how to place the students in their classes. All is well, so Greg and I excuse ourselves and head out to the University. It is the day to set up our bank account with the aid of Greg’s colleague, Peter.
I meet Peter in the Geology department and he says we have an appointment at the bank for 10:30. I will have to leave around 11am to get Kadin, but at least it will be a start. In the meantime, Peter generously sets us each up on a computer with internet and I fumble with the French keyboard but get some stuff done. Then the bank calls and has changed the appointment to 11am. Oh well, I will walk with them back to the tram and they will forge ahead and get as much done as possible without me.
First we have coffee, which is a really more like espresso, small dark and strong, no milk. We chat and enjoy our drinks and then walk towards the bank. At the tram stop I get on the tram, a completely different line coming from a completely different direction, and who is on the tram, right where I get on? Carina! Too funny! She was on campus meeting with her students and we are both heading back to pick the kids up for their two-hour lunch.
We pick up the boys, ride the bus back home together, lunch, then head back to the school. Kadin is okay. Not overjoyed to be in school, but not too distressed. This time Rees comes with us as we’ll shop for his school supplies after we drop Kadin off again. When we get on the bus we find Sam and Carina, again! The buses come about every 2 minutes, so this is remarkable. We are synched. Kadin completely relaxes when he is with Sam, so this is helping dramatically with the transition to school.
After the drop off, Rees and I shop at a larger supermarket (á la Target) down by the school and pick out some simple pens and pencils, a lock, and the “agenda” we were told he would need for sure.
We have a pleasant time, but when we get home we are shocked to find our door OPEN. Yikes! I rush in, hoping no one is inside, and find everything as it should be. Nothing is gone. WE must have left the door open. That is a wake up call. I guess with three people leaving the apartment, it can be a little vague who is responsible for shutting the door. For some reason I assumed it closed itself, but no, we need to be more vigilant in the future.
Then at 4pm it is time to go get Kadin again. And yes, Carina is on the same bus. At the school we once again encounter what Carina calls the French “clump” as there often is a clump of people it seems. Not like the English queues or the American scatters. But this is exteme, I would call it a mob. After picking up Kadin at the end of the first day of school, I understand Bastille day a little bit better.
Kadin is exhausted, a little down, but okay. He reports on the first French he has learned from his French teacher: "Ce n'est pas d'accord." Oh well.