29 July 2013

Back-to-Maternelle Shopping

We've been furiously shopping before we head back to Congo in a few days. Among our shopping is the never-ending Maternelle school supply list. Which we choose to find entertaining instead of frustrating.

Instead of wrestling my children and thinking in French in the middle of Target, I decided to write it all out ahead of time.

Take note: these 3-year-olds need 2 reams of paper, 2 packs of gouache and a 500 page notebook for parent-teacher communications. You would think from this list that we're sending them to the Little Picassos Art Academy. Hardly. Most of the time when I show up, they're rolling around on the floor with a ratty stuffed animal.

Added symbols indicate continent on which item can be found. That's not frustrating.

Also, I'm here to let everyone know that our beloved pen-makers, Bic, have an entire line of products not available in the United States. These crayons, and only these crayons, are the ones approved by our Maternelle. (We've tried substituting Crayola. The teacher laughed in my face.)

Exhibit A: The superior crayons Bic has available in every location outside the United States.

And for the first time this year we're supposed to send the girls with "baguettes." 9 of them. Now, I assume this doesn't mean each child is bringing 9 loaves of bread on the first day of school. What the French call "baguettes" are actually sticks. Does this mean chopsticks? Does this mean dowels? Are these things really available in Kinshasa? Is Adam supposed to go out back and cut some kindling? Only time will tell as I keep repeating to myself: This is not frustrating. This is a cultural experience...

But with memories like these, who can complain?

Loulou and Charlotte in last year's school photo.


  1. I love that they need copy paper, graphing paper, colored paper, crepe paper and shiny paper. Sounds fun!

  2. Just stopped here after reading your article on Cup of Joe. What a fantastic article and look into mothering in other cultures. I was an African studies minor in college and I've always loved the "it takes a village" approach. I can appreciate it more now that I am a Mom. I love the emphasis on breastfeeding, no waste and the beauty that is seen in women. I read like five pages back in your blog already and I don't know why you would have thought there would be backlash from such a beautifully written article. Safe journeys.

    1. Yay! Thank you for looking us up. It's been encouraging to read all the comments. It does take a village!


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