Apparently, that’s what re-entering the earth’s atmosphere looks like. In France they call the first few weeks of school the ‘rentrée’ and, yep, it’s a bit like that. Louis even had a fever at one point (he’s all better now) so there was burning – and the sausages I overcooked, I suppose. That’s the kind of thing I tend to do when there’s too much going on. I start forgetting things.

We got back from Italy on the Sunday night, thinking school might start the next day. It didn’t, fortunately, but Elena had her first session at the halte garderie.

first day at halte garderie

They start them off with ‘adaptation’…

Day 1: I go with her and we both stay and play for an hour.

Day 2: she does the second half hour by herself.

Day 3: a whole hour en seul.

Day 4: if all goes well (and it did) she does an hour and a half there on her own.

Day 5: two hours.

And then the next week she goes for her ordinary three half-days (3 hours), which will be the usual habit from now till next July… minus Christmas holidays and the like.

My lovely friend Erin watched Louis while Elena and I stayed at halte garderie for an hour, but the next day Louis sat in the salle de réunion (waiting room?) and played on my ipad for the first half hour. Then we went to the park, which he was happy about.

And Elena? She loves it. She has a thousand toys and two kind teachers, a few english-speaking (as much as any of them speak at 15 months) kids in her group, and cried only once – when Louis and I came to pick her up and waved through the window, then ‘disappeared’ to go in the door. She thought we’d gone. We were only on our way inside, but out of sight.

School for Louis started on Thursday. This information was on the noticeboard, on the fence, outside the school. I saw it on Monday afternoon, but we’d already figured out there wasn’t any school because the menu didn’t start till thursday. That’s right. We could find out on the internet what the kids were having for lunch, but we couldn’t find out when they started school.

A couple of days later we got the local magazine in the mail and on the back is the menu for the whole month:

menu at maternelle

Louis eats bread. I’d have thought he’d want the pasta, the deserts, the petit pois (peas) but no, apparently he only eats bread. This is what Louis tells me, so it’s possible he’s forgetting some delicious morsel of… no, probalby he’s just eating bread.

Je ne comprends pas.

He did just the morning the first day, coming home for lunch. On friday we thought he could try a full day. We want him to stay there for the lunches as we’ve heard it’s an environment which has helped many a stubborn un-adventurous eater to try new things, but he can’t stay for lunch unless he stays all afternoon. After lunch they have a two hour sleep and then the last ninety minutes of the day are free-time, easy play, or so it seems.

This week he’s done full days every day, with mixed success. He’s napping no problem, and has been dry about half the time (no nappies at nap time). He doesn’t eat much but that hardly makes for a dramatic change. He was upset on Tuesday morning. Luuk dropped him off before going on a work trip, so perhaps there was some added tension there.

first day of school, afternoon tea Afternoon tea at the park, after school. Comfort food and some big changes for the little man.

hot chocolate after school

On Tuesday it rained so I took Louis to Café de la Gare for a chocolat chaud. We have half an hour to kill between when he finishes school and when Elena finishes halte garderie, so if this wintry weather keeps up we will soon figure out where to get the best chocolat chaud in town.

Wednesday is a day off, every week, all year around, for French schools. Older kids have clubs and extra-curriculars. Little kids need the rest. It was grey and miserable, so we stayed home and baked muffins.

fig, banana and white chocolate muffins Banana, fresh fig and white chocolate muffins.
(Yes, Louis picks out the figs when he eats them.)

Louis and Elena watching fishWednesday’s outing: lots of errands and the fish pond!

School went a bit better on Thursday. I stayed for a while when we dropped him off in the morning. We did some painting and he was drawing happily until I told him I had to take Elena home for a sleep – and that he didn’t need one, because he’s a big boy, so he could stay at school and do all the fun things with the other kids.

He was not convinced. He cried. I felt a bit guilty all day. But at the end of it Louis’ teacher proudly informed me that he’d actually spoken to her! Progress! It’s all in French, of course, so he’s got a lot to adjust to.

This morning he was upset again, but more readily distracted with a truly impressive selection of those toys with beads on a wire.

wire bead toy

Comme ça.

So hopefully he’s doing okay. He should be asleep at school at the moment. Elena is too (here, at home) and I could nap, probably. I have succumbed to a cold. The kids had a bit of chesty cough last week but got better within a couple of days. Lucky things.

There’s a meeting for parents at Louis’ school tomorrow, but other than that the only thing on this weekend is Antony’s famous annual cheese and wine fair. It’s incredible. The whole neighbourhood is a-buzz with preparations today. The lights are strung up like christmas. There are roads closed, stalls set up all along the streets, the whole shebang.

Might have to find me some medicinal bordeaux after I’ve picked up Louis from school.