This morning, all three children shouldered their backpacks and headed off to school! Yes, we finally got what we needed for Elliot, and it was with much joy that we met his new principal, explained the situation, and watched Elliot stumble off in his wake to be introduced to his new “professor principal,” or homeroom teacher.
It turned out that even a call from the US Embassy didn’t help. We kept calling and calling the CNED office, and the woman there kept assuring us it would be done that day. Finally, in desperation at the end of the 5th day of this, Donn scolded her, and she said it wasn’t her fault and gave us the number of Elliot’s teacher for last year. We called her, and she explained that in CNED, they don’t give “avis de passage” (rather like a note saying he’d passed the year), but they do give a “bulletin” (report card) with all his grades on it. Voila! I said, “Can you please just email me that?” and gave her my address, and she said, “I just did.” I got off the phone, checked and saw it had come, forwarded it on to the secretary of the school, and he’s in. It was that simple. Now, wouldn’t you think that somewhere along the way, perhaps during one of those many expensive phone calls, someone might have explained this to us? Grrr. Especially as, initially, I was asking that his bulletin be sent, and had only switched to the “avis de passage” request because I thought it would be easier to send just one piece of paper. Sigh…
I’m just so happy that it’s over.
Yesterday was the twins’ first full day of junior high. There were some mishaps. For example, Abel ended up spending 3 hours in study hall, instead of one. Because his name wasn’t on the Arabic teacher’s list on Tuesday (they didn’t have school on Wednesday), he assumed he didn’t have Arabic so sat in the Study Hall. (I know, I know, but he’s only 11, and a very typical little boy) Then, he forgot that the lunch break has been cut in half for Ramadan, so he missed French and hung out in Study Hall. “I was sooo bored today!” he told me, miming how he stared at the ceiling, stared at the walls, blew out his cheeks, crossed his eyes. He missed his first day of Arabic and his first day of French. Fortunately the teachers are very understanding of these 6th graders who aren’t used to moving from classroom to classroom, and patient during this first week.
Ilsa came home and announced, “I have all the wrong cahiers and the teacher said my grand classeur (big binder) is too grand!” Cahiers are notebooks; each teacher requires a certain number of them, in very specific sizes (both size of notebook and number of pages), and with very specific paper (French paper is all graph, but the size of the squares is very important.) Considering the amount of time and trouble I went to, dealing with a crowded disorganised store and paying good money as these cahiers aren’t cheap, you might expect that I would have been upset, but I’m used to this; it happens every year. I try to buy exactly what is on the list, but then the kids mix them up. We managed to get most of the cahier situation sorted out, but what to do about the big binder that is too big? And why would a teacher tell parents to buy a big binder and then announce the binder was too big? Who cares, you might ask? French teachers, that’s who cares.
Also, now that they are junior high, they are required to use fountain pens. I am already envisioning the tears I will weep as I attempt to remove ink stains from their new school clothes. It hasn’t happened yet, but then they haven’t had to change the ink in their new stylo plume yet either. Surely, it’s only a matter of time. Please let it happen on a day when they’re wearing jeans and old t-shirts.
The school seems to be very well run. Those of you who know us in real life will be alarmed on our behalf to learn that they are very strict on punctuality. The gates open at 7:40 and are locked again at 7:55; after that a child is late and must report to the administration. If you are late 3 times, you get a detention. This has stressed my kids out no end; years of living in our family has taught them that we are usually late, and the long French lunch means there are two possibilities to be late each day.
All these minor ups and downs are normal for a new school year. The kids are making new friends, they like their teachers, and they have all tested out of English, which means they get 4 hours a week to sleep in or read books in the school library. So far, so good.

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