Must try harder

Sonny woke up at 2.45 this morning and didn’t go back to sleep until 6. He couldn’t sleep. He was “too excited.” Today was his first day at primary school – he has already spent three years at the Maternelle. We have been preparing for it for weeks. Scouring the shops, trying to find everything on the list that was given to us by the school at the beginning of the holidays. Fortunately we had 8 weeks to go shopping, as the list was long and my comprehension of it left me lost in the aisles on more than one occasion.


And it is not just me who has struggled with it. Even some of the French mums have complained about how they have had to go hither and thither (screaming children in tow) to lay their hands on some of the items. If you leave it to the last minute, like most of the people I know, you can be sure that the supermarkets (which devote 4 aisles to this stuff in July and August) will be missing at least one of the items on the list. So, it’s everyone back in the car, off on a wild goose chase in search of a red, plastic jotter cover. And it does have to be red. A green one will not do. We must “Respecter les couleurs, les format, les consignes,” or else!



With this in mind, I went shopping for the following:


·     1 trousse (pencil case) – I didn’t see that on the list until now. My son has consequently gone to school without one. That will be a rap over the knuckles for me then.

·     2 stylos à pointe tres fine, 0.3mm: vert et rouge (pens) – After

     10 mins of scanning the shelves for these elusive, little buggers I gave up. There were hundreds of green and red pens, but could I find any with 0.3mm tips? No! Given that this was the first item on the list (if you don’t count the trousse) I wasn’t off to a great start. Exasperated, I grabbed a pack of 0.4mm ones instead. I know I am not “Respecting the blah, blah,blah,” but 1mm isn’t going to make that much of difference, surely?

·     1 gomme de bonne qualitié (rubber) – Got one of those at home. 1 Euro saved.

·     1 taille-crayons avec résevoir (encased pencil sharpener i.e we would prefer it if the classroom didn’t resemble a hamster’s cage) – Sonny wanted to borrow my Cat’s arse pencil sharpener – kids love it. It’s a white, plastic cat, you ram a pencil in its derrière, then listen to it meeowing as the shavings fall into a litter tray under its feet – but I told him it would be too much of a distraction for the other children, and that the teacher might not appreciate it. We went for a batman one instead.

·     10 bâtons de colle a conserver a la maison: founir a l’enfant baton par baton (glue, to be kept at the house and handed to the child, stick by stick) – Found a pack of 10 on special offer. They will be doing a bit of gluing then!

·     1 paire de ciseaux a bouts ronds (round ended, ‘anti-stabbing’ scissors) – Sonny and I had a fight becasue he wanted the most expensive pair. When he refused to put them back, I threatened to swap the batman pencil sharpener for a plain, black one. Needless to say, he settled on the cheaper pair.

·     1 boite de 12 crayons de couleur (coloured pencils) – Made sure I bought coloured pencils and not ‘crayons’, as we know them in the UK.

·     1 cahier de texts, pas d’agenda (homework jotter) – Needed help from a nearby shop assistant for this one. By the look on her face I am not the first foreigner to have asked her this question.

·     1 cahier de brouillon petit format. 17×22 (another jotter) – Hope I got the right one? The dimensions matched, but I didn’t see the word “brouillon” (whatever that means?) anywhere.

·     3 protège-cahiers, format 24×32: bleu, vert et jaune (jotter covers in three colours) – Right next to the jotters. Phew

·     3 protège-cahiers, petit format 17×22: rouge, noir, incolore (smaller jotter covers, in three colours) – Right next to the other jotter covers. Double phew.

·     Du plastique pour couvrir le livre de lecture (plastic to cover the reading book with) – Faced with an empty shelf, I didn’t get any. Am hoping the teacher will have some spare.

·     1 double en plastique (ruler) –  ‘Double?’ Sonny was no help. Didn’t want to appear stupid in front of same shop assistant again, so I asked another shopper who very kindly took me to the right section.

·     1 ardoise blanche (white board for writing on) – ‘Ardoise?’ Found by yet another helpful shopper.

·     1 tenue de sport, surtout une paire de chaussures de sport (gym kit)  – Yes! Another home find.

·     1 blouse pour faire de la peinture. Une vieille chemise a manches longues de papa ou un vieux chemisier de maman conviendra parfaitement (painting shirt) – One of my old shirts, except it is still in the cupboard upstairs. Another rap on the knuckles.

·     TOUTES LES FOURNITURES DEVRONT ETRE MARQUEES AU NOM DE L’ENFANT (MARK YOUR CHILD’S NAME ON EVERYTHING) – The whole lot got stuffed into a plastic bag. But to be fair, the bag did have Sonny’s name on it. Having read the list properly for the first time today, I think the majority of it should have gone in the trousse. Never mind.



Score 12/17


No gold star for me then!


Will go shopping for a trousse today and slip it in with the painting shirt tomorrow. If the teacher tells me off, I will play the Scottish card and say that I can’t read French – which, rather sadly, seems to be the case.


I have heard from a friend, whose son is in the year above, that next year’s list is even worse. She managed to get 18 out of 20, and doesn’t speak a word of French. As she considers me to be ‘fluent,’ I am feeling slightly bad about my score. I must try harder!


8 Responses

  1. Ooooh yes. Been there, got the sticky paper rolls (‘pour recouvrir le journal de classe et les cahiers until your head falls off with the irritation/mind numbing tedium of it all’) to prove it. I posted about exactly this this week.

    “Brouillon” is like, rough work. So it shouldn’t matter too much.

    I love the mad specificity, like 0.4mm. My ‘crayons de couleur’ had to be triangular and of a particular brand. Also my ‘feutres’. Why? Why why why?

    Now I have everything except “6 photos format passeport” and “10 bouchons (de bouteille)”. Er, pourquoi?

    Are you sensing I needed to vent slightly? Sorry.

  2. ooh it gets easier… but more expensive

  3. Jaywalker – you know what “brouillo(i)n” is, and you can spell it too! Will pop into my post and remove the extra “i”, then come over to yours for a good read.
    Rosie – thank god for that. I get some money from the CAF towards it, so it is not too expensive for the time being.

  4. Jeeez! Seems the never-ending list of mummy-must-get school supplies is plunging parents into worldwide debt. Do you think I can get away without actually sending mine to school? Or am I being a tight-ass.

  5. wow. Mine didn’t even tell me if I needed to pack a pencil. Maybe that has something to do with the standards in the english state school system?
    I hope you didn’t get into trouble for going a .1mm over.
    Anyway TT, an award for you over at mine

  6. Mom/Mom – definitely a tight-ass! hee hee
    Confused – Thanxxxx

  7. Haha … but 12/17 is not that bad. And it true, more the time passes, and more the lists are longer. My small brother got one this year as well (like every year actually, when I think); but mostly, he keeps the stuff from prevous years, and we are only buying the ones he really needs …

  8. “brouillon” is “draft”. Usually, “un cahier de brouillon ” is a poor quality copybook. The pages are grey or beige, the leeves are very thin, it could be in recycled paper. But if you ‘re rich, you”re allowed to use Clairfontaine copy book to impress people. ( and if you don’t know clairfontaine, it’s like a pukka pad in the Uk, almost the most expensive Pad, isn’t it ? Now, think about the difference between a pukka pad, and the plain Sainsburry basic pad ;D

    And this list are a nightmare for everybody, so I think that for a foreigner it’s like a week of daily nightmare! I was lucky enough to spend my first 10 years in a communist rural town of North of France, where the Townhall bought everything . It’ was a poor town, so without that, one kids out of 2 would’nt have what was on the list (exept the pencil case of course!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: