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.