Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eastpak or Bust, Mummy

I undertook the typical life in France with kids annual treat of buying school supplies for la Rentrée yesterday, eldest strongly in tow.

Last year I was spared this mega chore because his school had thoughtfully subscribed to where the teachers give a list of supplies to the website and parents can log on and get the whole load bought and delivered in the twinkle of an eye. Sadly, my eldest has had to change schools and the teachers at his present one can't be fagged to budge from their usual habit of yelling 'Same as last year!' to the Vie Scolaire team as they rush out the door for the summer holidays. Vie Scolaire then just photocopy the right year's list and send it out to parents. Of course, they could post the list online themselves, but habits die hard in l'education national... There seems to be scant regard to consider the cost of stamps in all this...

It took 3 hours, 5 shops, and quite a bit of hanging about. It didn't help that I had to replace the phone my eldest had lost in the summer (while at his dad's), and the paperwork for that always takes a while. We were also doing the weekly shop in Carrouf, but what with the need for indoor sports shoes, outdoor sports shoes, an Eastpak bag ('€48 but it's got a 30yr warranty, mummy. Pleeeeease!'. 'And I'm sure you'll test it out, son'...) all from different shops because of the prices, I was greatly in need of my evening swim and glass of chilled rosé at the end of it.

It could have been worse, though. I learned a few years ago that the list of supplies by subject is a total nightmare because you have to keep counting up the total number of the same items required. I now put it all in a spreadsheet so the totals are immediately visible - large-squared writing books, 96 pages: 8.

Anyway, that particular chore is over for this year, for my eldest at least, although I'm sure more demands will come in at the beginning of term, and my youngest will have a small list too once he goes back to school. At least they don't have to wear a uniform. One must be thankful for small mercies!


  1. I have always wondered, but never dared ask....
    what happens if they don't have all this gear when they return to College Dothegarcons ?
    Would a foreign born mother risk being escorted to the frontiers?

  2. Well I expect she might well be, or have the list thrust into her hot little hand and ordered off to the nearest Carrouf ASAP.

    There's usually a couple of days at the beginning when they don't need all that stuff so retardataires can catch up easily.

  3. Why the teaching staff can't all have the same exercise books beats me. I remember the horror of small squares, big ones, lines, 96 pages, 180 pages, hole punched, and so it went on and on and on! By the end of the year they hadn't used half of what was on the list.
    Actually I regret there is no school uniform in France - it would relieve the peer pressure about having to have certain designer labels (!) and uniform is so cheap.

    WV expent - what happens when you shop for school goods and you are an expat!

  4. DD, I think the already high levels of hysteria at having the badly presented lists would reach critical levels if parents had to buy school uniform as well.

    The French are neurotic enough as it is at la rentréd, I'm not sure they could cope with any extra pressure. :D

  5. ah the joys I have to look forward to the day I have sprawlings of my own.

    I always feel sorry for the kids here, especially the small ones when I see them being carted off to school with backpacks weighing more than they do :(

    I bet you're glad it's over and that the rose was most enjoyable!

  6. Strangely, it's particularly bad in primary school. My youngest came home with way too much stuff saying he didn't have room for it in his desk. Teachers don't seem to give instruction about what to take home, or they may do once at the beginning of the year and then stop, and the kids forget.

    I'll have a list from his teacher too, but that's for next week. There's nothing like spreading the joy!


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