Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Expected chaos on the first day of school

Monday morning, after 8:20 am, John, Maylin, and I arrived at the ecole maternelle for the first day of Maylin's second of three years of preschool in France. There was next to nobody at the main entrance which I thought was very odd. I saw some people going from that entrance to the side entrance so I followed them. We met with the directrice (principal) at the door who explained that No, we're starting in the afternoon, Madame. It's posted on the bulletin board, Madame. You didn't see it? It's there, Madame. So we sheepishly went back to the main entrance, pressed the doorbell (I pressed the right one this time -- when I first arrived, I kept pressing the intercom button instead), and went in to see the bulletin board which I had just barely glanced last Friday to check which class Maylin was in. I looked all over and couldn't see it. I expected it to be in a prominent place on the wall, but it was almost hidden behind an easel. Later, I learned that other parents who took their kids out before the final week of school last year made the same mistake because we didn't receive the notice (and the school didn't mail anything).

I took Maylin back in the afternoon to find three tables set up in the all-purpose room with parents and kids swarming around them. I had to visit each table until I found the right one. I was the very last person to check Maylin's information/emergency card and sign her up for the cantine (cafeteria).

Maylin's classroom was tricky to find (the other lost parents were proof) -- down the corridor, up the stairs one flight, through an open, unmarked door, through a small, dark passageway, then towards the light to a mess of parents taking photos, crying kids, and the sweetest, prettiest teacher ever. I encountered a few kids and parents from Maylin's class last year, and got to speak English to two parents, one of them being my Australian friend. I was wondering then if our three kids were going to become an English-speaking clique. I don't think so now, because after asking who she's been playing with on the playground during recess, Maylin's given me names of both English-speaking and native French children.

The process of picking Maylin up in the afternoon was evidence of more misinformation. Earlier, they clearly told us to pick up the kids at the main entrance, but now there was a sign on the door directing some of us to the side. Goodness!

Parents waited in the courtyard a moment to see classes of little children quietly led down the stairs by their teachers, like mother hen and her chicks. Maylin spotted me even before she stepped out of the building, ran to me, and gave me a big squeeze. I love being a mom. On the way to the park, Maylin reported her day excitedly. I have a feeling she'll have a good year.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

How interesting to hear about her first day of the maternelle! I hope you'll share other stories about what Maylin does in preschool and how being bilingual affects her schooling. By the way, Nicole in Laval is also chronicling her bilingual child's adventures in ecole maternelle at