Tuesday, 11 February 2014

He Does Not Look Happy...

Alex's first day of school today.

Yesterday evening we unpacked new clothes and shoes for him, his school bag, writing books, pencils normal and coloured, his juice bottle and snack box and he was so happy!

Normally, recourse to tyre levers is the only way to get him out of bed at six in the morning.  This morning he was up at five, tugging at my hair shouting, 'Daddy! Daddy!  It's time to go to school!'

We left the Barra de Kwanza at seven and arrived in front of the school at ten to eight.

Would he go in?  Would he hell!

If looks could kill!

Marcia went in with him to help him settle.  Ten minutes later, she came out again assuring me that everything was OK.  Thirty seconds later, Alex bolted out the gate with a member of staff in hot pursuit.

'I am sorry!' she said as Alex clung to his mother, 'I only took my eye off him for a second and he was gone!'

Picking him up, it was a different story; he didn't want to leave.

'Daddy!  They have a crocodile!  They have lots of birds!' he ran back inside.

They also have an ostrich, I discovered, but the crocodile was quite small, only about three feet long.

Class sizes are acceptable, there are sixteen pupils in Alex's class.  For children his age, apart from the 'Three R's', they concentrate on physical education (on their own playing field), swimming (in their own pool), music lessons, drama, singing and field trips using their own buses.  It is Angolan fare but the food is good, prepared as it is in their own restaurant.  It is a longish school run every day, a hundred kilometres there and back but, because of its location in the southern suburbs of Luanda, I can dive off the main road before I hit the traffic and go cross country through the bush and do the trip in less than an hour.  I say I can; Marcia goes up to town three times a week so she can do it on those days!

Alex has already invited two of his new friends to come and stay for the weekend which I think is a smashing idea.  Naturally I have already offered to host his year group here at the Barra where I can knock them up a decent nosh and take them on a fossil hunt down the beach.

Alex had a great time today and I am pleased.  I had a miserable time.  This house and garden is a bloody big and lonely place without Alex getting under my feet and up to all sorts of mischief.

39 comments:

  1. Awwwww.
    Parents and a child's first day at school...
    A thing I will sadly never experience

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    1. You are welcome to do the school run for us!

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  2. First Day at School

    A millionbillionwillion miles from home
    Waiting for the bell to go. (To go where?)
    Why are they all so big, other children?
    So noisy? So much at home they
    Must have been born in uniform
    Lived all their lives in playgrounds
    Spent the years inventing games
    That don't let me in. Games
    That are rough, that swallow you up.

    And the railings.
    All around, the railings.
    Are they to keep out wolves and monsters?
    Things that carry off and eat children?
    Things you don't take sweets from?
    Perhaps they're to stop us getting out
    Running away from the lessins. Lessin.
    What does a lessin look like?
    Sounds small and slimy.
    They keep them in the glassrooms.
    Whole rooms made out of glass. Imagine.

    I wish I could remember my name
    Mummy said it would come in useful.
    Like wellies. When there's puddles.
    Yellowwellies. I wish she was here.
    I think my name is sewn on somewhere
    Perhaps the teacher will read it for me.
    Tea-cher. The one who makes the tea.

    by Roger McGough

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  3. awwww....you have empty nest syndrome!

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    1. It was an odd feeling realising he wasn't there!

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  4. Sounds like you have chosen a good place for him to begin his formal education while you continue the good work at home.

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  5. i remember those days so well. btw...alex sure resembles you!

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    1. That's good to know, I always thought he looked like the milkman.

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  6. Your little buddy is going to come home and tell you all about his world adventures, Dad! You taught him well; now its time for him to go out and get the paperwork for it ;)

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    1. He did! Let's see what tales he brings today.

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  7. I cried when my first-born went to school. The first day, mothers (incl. me) hovered outside the door and windows, until the teacher shooed us away.

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    1. I hovered but at least I did not cry!

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  8. Ah the horrors of school. I remember the first day I went to school in Singapore they were cutting the grass. I loathe the smell of freshly cut grass to this day! And then of course boarding school at 7 1/2, well that began a whole new chapter on abandonment. But in the end it shapes you, (and your child!). I can't imagine what it's like from the parents' point of view - it's like a double whammy.

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    1. I have no recollection of my first school, let alone my first day!

      New mown grass always makes me think of nerve agents. In the Army we were taught that nerve agent, I can't remember whether that was V-Nerve or G-Nerve agent, smelt like new mown grass. How do they know? I mean, did they lay someone out on a psychiatrist's couch and say, 'Right, we're going to give you a whiff of nerve agent, just say the first (and last) thing that comes to mind?'

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  9. It's a terrible feeling, the day you leave a child alone at school. I suffered the same feelings 3 times; you just brought it all back.

    I, however, loved every minute of school!

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    1. You are an example of the small, highly educated minority who coined the phrase, 'schooldays were the best days of my life'.

      The rest of us thickos had a bloody miserable time!

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  10. 100 kilometres in less than an hour? Be careful not to hit any animals when you're speeding through the bush. Alex makes friends quickly - I hope he makes enemies more slowly!

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    1. I suppose ' doing the trip in less than an hour' was a little ambiguous. I meant less than hour to get there (50 kms). The round trip takes just shy of two hours so if I drop him and come back, then go and collect him, it means about four hours in the saddle and a tankful of petrol every two days which is why we have decided, whoever takes him has to spend a day in town.

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    2. ...four hours in the saddle every day and a tankful of petrol every two days...

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  11. Oh Wow! What exciting news! Good on you Alex :).
    So glad to hear that he likes the idea of going to school.
    That's half the battle won.

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    1. I am sure he's going to enjoy himself! The school even has junior quad bikes for the children to learn basic driving skills with.

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  12. Aww, bless him. Before I read your last paragraph, I was wondering who out of the three of you was going to be more upset. I guessed right! It's such a long day when your chick first leaves home for school. I'm glad he enjoyed it. I'm reminded of a story where the child asked at the end of their first day, "What, you mean I have to go back again tomorrow as well?"

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    1. Alex said something similar last night. He asked if he could go back there again today!

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  13. Crocodiles and ostriches? Lucky lad...we had locusts...best years of his life to come!

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    1. Certainly beats dissecting a rat in biology!

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  14. I thought the ten miles or so that I drove my boys to school was far, but it was in a city! I can understand why you wouldn't want to make the trip twice in one day.
    Where is Dom going to school? You mentioned he might go to Portugal.

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    1. Ten miles in the city of Luanda could easily take twice as long!

      Dom is going to a college in Luanda. His mother, who has the final say, scotched the idea of him going to school in UK and has now scotched the idea of him going to Portugal. Still, he is fifteen in March so in three years he will be eighteen and can make his own mind up. He told me last time he was here he wants to study for his commercial pilot's licence. That's a year long course so if he is still keen when he is old enough, I will pay for it for him. For years I have been putting six grand a year away for his further education beyond high school so he'll have plenty of pocket money!

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  15. A happy milestone indeed, and a picture to immortalize the moment to boot. You definitely did something right in getting him this far. For some of us the thought alone of going to school was terrifying and induced a severe case of the shits. It was a daily struggle and an experience only to be endured, never quite figured it all out. Perhaps that explains my lifetime of pathetic academic performance.

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    1. I did not enjoy it either. Let's keep our fingers crossed for Alex.

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  16. I am smiling for both of you. Alex because he will enjoy it, and you because we've all been there. You'll love him coming home, bursting with news of his day.

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    1. He has two of his school friends staying for the weekend and they are SO well behaved!

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  17. What a cute boy. The thought of him running back out made me smile! Glad to hear he enjoyed himself though.

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    1. The discipline will do him good as well!

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  18. How cute is he that he came back out to tell you what was there! Awww How lovely. I kind of remember being forced to have a picture taken on the doorstep. Clothes too big. being marched across the road, my hand being given to a lady I have never seen before and my mother turning and just walking away. there were two mums who appeared at lunch time, they both had boys. and the teacher shooed them away. I was 3. Strange I remember that.

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    1. I cannot remember a thing bout my first school!

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  19. Hi there, like your stories. Funnily enough I met Nancy from your most recent blog last weekend for the first time through a mutual friend and she told me about the lobsters, the fig plant and the blog. So here I am, cruising the net on my lunch break and guzzling my pasta.

    I have a daughter a little older than your boy and she does 20km to school everyday and it takes the same or more than your 100km! Also your scenery is much nicer than what you come across on the express... If you don't mind me asking, is the school Alex goes to English or Portuguese speaking? Information on feasible school options in Luanda seems not to be the easiest thing to find, so any tip is a good tip!

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    1. Hi Moomin, welcome to my world! Nancy is a nice person, give her my regards. Who knows, one day you might come for a visit.

      The school is Portuguese language, Alex learnt his English from me and his Portuguese from his mother and, of course, his extended family and numerous friends.

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