Monday, August 31, 2009

Making A List & Checking It Twice

It's that time of year when you'll see French parents roaming the Carrefour and Auchan supermarket aisles with lists, lists, nothing but lists in their hands!

You can spot an expat parent a mile away because they roam the aisles with very confused and/or frustrated facial expressions. You can bet they're checking their lists twice to make sure they've understood everything.

A shopping list would be too easy, a to-do list too practical, and a Christmas wish-list too early.

It's the dreaded back-to-school supply list.

La Mom mom dreads this one the way Big Cheese dreads visiting the US for a month and having to drink American coffee which he calls jus de chaussettes - sock juice. Nice visual, huh?

I dread this list because it's way too technical for moi and I need a translator to help decode the items. The list isn't made up of easy French words like stylo (pen), papier (paper), feutres (ink pens). I have to learn a whole new vocabulary like rabat, godet, timbale, and plastifiée.

Here's a sample of some of the supplies on the list this year:

-1 pochette en carton, à rabat (24x32), 6 à 8 cm d'épaisseur minimum
(A carton pocket with rabbit. 6 to 8 cm required thickness?)

-1 box of paints, 12 godets, marque Lefranc-Bourgeois or Faber Castell
(Why can't Big Fry's school pick a brand of paint that every supermarket in France carries like Crayola? Must they require a brand that I have to hunt high and low for?)

-Chaussons rythmiques
(Rythmic slippers. Hmmm, what does a 5 year old need rythmic slippers for and where do you buy them? It sounds kinky, but then again I must be missing something in the translation.)

-1 box of 12 colored crayons dans une boîte métallique plate - marque Caran d'Ache
(Will Big Fry be sent home from school if he shows up with a box of 15 crayons in a cardboard box? Must there really be 12 crayons in a flat, metallic box, made by an obscure company sold at the Librairie that's a 25 minute walk from my apartment?)

So this was my third and final year of dealing with a French school supply list! Next year I'm taking control of the situation so it doesn't take control of me. My plan of action will be as follows:

1/ Scope out the local librairie or presse shop.
2/ Make friends with the manager (read: smile, flirt, and play up the foreign accent.)
3/ Show up with the supply list and say, "French is such a rich language with so many beautiful words, but these words are new ones even to me. What does this mean?"
4/ Stand back and watch my new little buddy do my work for me.



Mrs. said...

La Mom!

I visited Paris for the first time last November and fell in love. As a daily reminder of my trip, my very own MR. purchased a Nespresso machine for me. Perhaps you could invest in one for your US trips so that Big Mac would not have to suffer so!

Christy said...

Sounds like a good plan to me - and wow that list does sound intimidating! I wonder if the slippers are tap shoes?

SuZ said...

He he he he. Ahhh, makes you miss America and our Crayolas huh?


ModernMom said...

Sounds like a brilliant plan! Think I could switch this up, fake a french accent and pretend I don't speak english at the local Staples?

Under the Influence said...

I stand in the aisles with that overwhelmed and confused look and my list is in English in an American store! I'm glad I don't have to translate.

Suzanne said...

I probably make parents happy with my request for supplies from my students' course outline: 1 spiral bound notebook with at least 100 sheets, blue or black pen, red or green pen, if in French 3 or higher a good French/English dictionary. Voila. The joy of public high school in California.

Hang in there La Mom, I do like your idea for next year.

Anonymous said...

Do your children go to a Waldorf School per chance??? A lot of the items remind me of the things I had to get each year for school--but my school was in Garden City, NY.

I hope they have a great school year. Good luck with the unique school supplies. Esp the Eurythmy slippers! LOL ;)

Michelle said...

I think your plan is brilliant!

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

I wonder if I could get a Target Stock boy to do all of my school supply shopping for me when My daughter is in school?

Virginia said...

I taught 3rd grade here in the US forever!!! Our parents wandered the aisles of Wal Mart etc. with the same dazed looks and they spoke the language!!

Bon chance!
PS Did you try the Monoprix? Their stationery dept. always looks like such fun. Probably doesn't have what
Les Fries need though , hun?


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