School visit

As the relief of having a roof over our heads started to wane over the last day or so, something else was creeping into the atmosphere. We’ve all been a little tetchy and I think it’s because of our impending ‘new’ school visit.

We picked out a school while we were in the UK and after getting in touch and asking a raft of questions, we were simply told by the head-teacher to pop in after school on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday to sort it out. We bottled it on Tuesday because we still felt zonked from the last week or so but we decided we’d definitely go on Thursday instead.

We spent the day searching for longer term accommodation and surprise surprise, there isn’t any! There’s another week before it’s the busiest (and most expensive) two weeks of the year. We have already planned to go to our friends’ place in Switzerland to escape the mayhem, but we need somewhere for next week and for when we come back after half term. After trawling through Homeaway, Owners Direct, local agents, Les Gets Reservations, Air BnB and firing off numerous e-mails, we had three possibilities for next week. We tried our luck asking for a discount as it was only 2 days away. Two of them dropped the price for us and one of them looked perfect! A ground floor apartment in a recently refurbished chalet in Essert Romand. That’ll do pig.

We hoped that getting accommodation sorted would feel good before we visited the school and met with the head, but it’s just frazzled our nerves further.

Anyway, it’s time. I don’t know why schools make me nervous… especially meeting head-teachers!

The kids have been a little bit crazier than usual but we can’t really blame them as they’ve had to deal with all this and more:

  • leaving school and Halifax
  • saying goodbye to everyone
  • a week off school
  • emptying the house and most of their stuff into storage over a two week period until we were left with only mattresses to sleep on
  • impromptu nights at the Grandparents’ houses while we got ourselves organised
  • a two day journey
  • moving to France
  • the prospect of going to a French speaking school
  • slightly weird/fraught parents

Children thrive on routine and stability, so it’s no wonder we’ve upset the apple cart.

The drive up to the school was spent briefing the kids on how we expected them to behave and to discuss the appropriate bribes, I mean incentives, for good behaviour: “If you behave nicely we’ll go ice skating afterwards and out for dinner”.

We waited in the van for school to finish and watched the kids flood out with shovels and bum-slides in hand and start playing in the snow covered playground.

We joined the huddle of parents doing the school run and heard a few British voices which was a welcome relief.

Just before we left the UK, some of the British press were doing their usual story about ‘the shame of parents doing the school run in pyjamas’.  Much to my delight, here in Les Gets, some of the parents were doing the school run in their ski and boarding gear. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about! That’s why we’re here!

Anyway, the meeting with the head went well and it turns out we just needed to do a bit of paperwork, organise some insurance, give some details, pay for school dinners, take slippers (!?) and we’re away. There are a few British kids in school that just come for the winter season every year and they said ours would have no problem picking up French as long as we made the effort as well.

(UPDATE July 2016: It looks like we got in just in the nick of time because a lot of the Brit parents who wanted to return next season 16/17 have been told there is no room and the kids can’t return to the school!)

The behaviour matter went well until we went outside to visit the ‘cantine’ (dinner hall) before saying our “mercies” and “bon journees” to the head. Best behaviour mode was running on borrowed time and the draw of the snow was too much for our two. The minor snowball fight quickly escalated into a pushing and shoving match in front of our new head. Time for a quick exit!

We got back to the apartment and I actually just picked up the bottle of single malt I took with me and took a swig! I must be getting stressed!

Behaviour Review: Good enough (under the circumstances), so ice rink here we come.

It turns out my ice skating needs some serious work… or maybe that was the whisky.