No, no, no! France is on strike again. It was bad enough waking up this morning to the news that I’d be facing a tired and grumpy husband this evening, who had to drive to work instead of enjoying his customary snooze on the train, but far, far worse was being informed, by a maman friend at the school gates, that nursery is also cancelled for the day. This would have been my son’s first day at school this week, after falling ill over the weekend (too ill for my conscience to allow me to inflict his germs on innocent bystanders, but not so ill as to curb his liveliness in any degree, nor to promote good behaviour). I had such exciting plans for catching up on the neglected washing up this morning – if I move further than an inch away from the little urchin, at any time (even whilst he is watching television), he comes and finds me, grasping my hand in his tiny iron grip and leading me back again. He even insists on accompanying me, to “help Mama”, when I go to the toilet (and has, on more than one occasion, generously offered his wiping services – politely declined). He is having a rare nap at the moment, and my current feeling is that venting to strangers provides more health benefits than clean dishes. My Chou and I are bestest best friends.
Apparently everyone else at school was told about the strike on Monday (whilst my son was absent). I suppose that the secrétaire (who has multiple contact numbers with which to reach both myself and my husband) wanted to give us a lovely surprise, by not letting us in on the new plan beforehand. It certainly was a surprise to find that I would have the pleasure of enjoying yet another day of unscheduled toddler fun. How terribly kind and thoughtful of her.
It is just as well that I am a stay-at-home-mum. This is the third time in four months that there has been no class for my son to attend, although, to be fair, this is the first school strike that we have experienced. We are very fortunate to be in the catchment area for a state nursery school with a toute petite section (there are only four maternelles with this class in our entire département, most nursery programmes starting at age three). Inconveniently, but understandably, there is no sickness cover – working parents get priority for the limited alternative childcare, where the absent teacher’s stranded students are split up and join different classes for the day. I would always prefer to keep my son at home with me (four mornings a week is more than I would like ideally, however this was the best compromise that both parties could reach), but it would be so helpful to be made aware of the situation before we get to the door.
In addition to this happy revelation I was even given a gratuitous work-out – lucky me! This took the form of dragging a reluctant and struggling toddler back to the car. The contrary Chou decided today, after some weeks of screaming his disinclination to go to school (preferring to “stay home, play Mama”), that school was the place to be. Unfortunately for him only one maîtresse (and not his beloved Aline) was working today and children had to be signed up in advance to stay.
This is how we found ourselves at the park at half past eight (the only bribe I could think of at that time of the day to persuade him to accompany me willingly), on the coldest start to a morning that we have endured in some time.
This is why I had already hit the coke by ten o’clock. My New Year’s Resolution to kick the habit is going disastrously, but chemically-induced energy is otherwise hard to come by if you don’t drink coffee.
Until tomorrow, then, housework!
Mots du jour:
La grève – the strike maman – mummy secrétaire – secretary toute petite section – class for children who have turned two maternelle – nursery school département – administrative division of France (there are 96 in metropolitan France – I live in Haute-Savoie) maîtresse – mistress/teacher