Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Louisa May Alcott and her school.

I found sweetly-named Louisa May Alcott School (named after the author of Little Women, which which had just tearfully watched on DVD) on the map and it was just three ‘blocks’ away as the Americans say. I called to ask about a place for Gabriel. The school was just a few blocks away. I knew it was late but it was worth a try. The secretary asked me immediately where I lived, to which I politely replied ‘Geneva Terrace.’ and she shouted, ‘Call Lincoln, that’s your school’ and hung up. I knew each school had a strict catchment area, but before age five you could choose, simply because you paid for pre-school education. I had always thought Americans did good customer service, but this was the tenth in a line of grumpy and unhelpful telephone, gas and bank people in a week. I tried again and again and finally screamed at her ‘I have two kids at Lincoln, it’s for the third one who is only three years old!!!’ ‘Oh’ she said ‘I’ll connect you to Room 111’ she would not apologize, but at least I got through.

When I visited I had to hide my surprise at the tiny classroom, with beds for naptime squeezed between the tables and chairs, although it seemed quite jolly and organized. The fees were horrific - at 7,000$ for the year, it made an English Montessori look cheap. At least breakfast and lunch was included in the price. But I signed Gabriel on, I had no other choice and he was truly bored being at home with me all day unpacking boxes.

His first week was a success. There was another French new girl called Maylis, starting the same week and three children in the pre-school who had siblings in the Lincoln school. We soon started walking together after dropping off the big ones at Lincoln, and kissing our little ones goodbye at 8.30am. Before long we were going straight round the corner to Einstein’s Bagels or Starbucks or Caribou coffeeshops for more chat and a late breakfast. It was a relief to have found friends, and Elisabeth, Leaticia and Sybille were good company.

They had all lived in America before, and were making the most of their time in America. They had all had full-time jobs before and we enjoying their time as stay-at-home-moms. We shared notes on where to find things, complaints about EFAC, the lack of time to play outside (10 mins only) and the awful school menu of pizza, hotdog or hamburgers. At 3.10 we gathered by the tree outside the school to chat about our day, and if the sun shone we would spend some time in the school park letting the kids run off their energy. I began to think things were looking up…

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