Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Pablo's Blue Period

Three days from La Fille's first day at school and the Frenchman reads her a book about a boy called Pablo who doesn't want to go to school. Why the Frenchman thinks this particular story is a good idea is anyone's guess, but he clearly thinks it is. He points out that book ends with Pablo deciding school is fun, but surprise, surprise La Fille has the attention span of a gnat and was not concentrating to the end.

So yesterday afternoon, less than 24 hours after being introduced to Pablo the reluctant schoolboy, La Fille announces she does not want to go to school. I tell her there is no choice. There follows half an hour of non-stop verbal attrition. Instead of shouting, which is what I want to do but have been trying not to, I give her a choice: "You can go to school just in the mornings or you can go to school all day," I say. She doesn't even stop to consider this. "No, no, no. I choose, and my choice is: I go to school or I stay at home with you and I choose to stay at home with you," she says. I give up arguing.

This morning the "I don't want to go to school" routine starts again. I meet up with a friend and her two girls at the Jardin des Plants and we head off to see what Kiki is up to. My friend tells me her husband - also French - has been reading their daughter, also due to start school on Thursday, a book in which the child character arrives in the classroom on his first day to find everyone, children and parents, weeping and wailing. The book, she says, goes on to describe how pupils have labels put on their wrists 'like goods for sale in a shop' and how some of the children cry so much they're not allowed to have their afternoon snack. She says: "A French friend gave it to me. She said it was a good introduction to school."

We agree it must be one of those French culture things.

5 comments:

Jaywalker said...

Ha! My rite of passage starting school book (it's like, a whole aisle of French bookshops) was called "Ma Maîtresse est une ogresse". Same topo - all ends well, but the abiding image is one of Doom Doom Doom.

I wish it wasn't appropriate but yesterday my son was sent to headmaster for turning the outline of his hand into a rocket when he was supposed to be colouring it in neatly.....

Cimon said...

I have been told by Spanish friends that they are surprised French songs for children always end badly :
- pirouette cacahouette, where the hero ends up dismantled ;
- legendary "il était un petit navire", where the main character is eaten up by sailor mates (although in an older non secular version he is saved by Virgin Mary) ;
- Even the mill is broken because the millman is asleep...

Cultural thing, you said...

Bloggers Guide to Paris said...

Hi Parisgirl,

Was hoping to contact you to see if you would consider being included in a review post like the one at http://www.thebloggersguide.com/barcelona/karie-scotts-european-adventure - if you would be interested please could you email me at editor@thebloggersguide.com

Thanks
Will

Parisgirl said...

Jaywalker: your son's experience confirms all I fear about the learn-by-rote-and-please-don't-have-an-original-thought French school system I have already encountered courtesy of my grown-up step-daughter. Are you not fearful that your wonderfully imaginative child will have it all drummed out of him?
Cimon, I've been reading some French stories and you're right. What is all that about?

Jaywalker said...

PG - of course I think that in my frequent dark night of the soul moments.

When I'm not having them, I hope I can continue to encourage his wild side at home. Also, I try to look at the various creative francophones I admire and think that if you are reasonably resilient, you can presumably survive with something still intact. Maybe? Argh. Would love to discuss more...

ps - I love la baleine qui tourne qui vire, who eats all the boats but then feels bad about it...