C’est la rentrée…

17 Jan

Back to school! In french, we have a special word for it: la rentrée. Literally, it means “the re-entry”.

The mere thought of that plastic smell makes my heart beat faster, a drop of saliva forms at the corner of the mouth, I’m blinded by the sparkle in my eyes. Yes, I have a fétiche for new stationary!

My mind can’t help but go back a few 20 years ago: that feeling of nostalgia is here again.

It is the beginning of September, maybe only the end of August. The television abounds in ads for the new essential pens, the indispensable exercise books, the unavoidable fashionable pencil cases, making every child’s heart discontent with his own lot, jealous of his friends and endlessly nagging at his parents. The supermarkets are ready for the rush of over-enthusiastic kids and underpaid parents.

Voilà! They’re all here, parents and children, list in hand, reading scrupulously the detailed desires and whims of the teachers: a small spiral exercise book, 24 pages (un petit cahier a spirales), a see-through drawing paper file (une pochette transparente de papier dessin), a soft-cover ring binder (un classeur), a big hard-cover book 96 pages (un grand cahier rigide)… It takes real skills not to be confused, it takes real patience not to scream. The once quiet shopping mall has become the floor of Wall Street, Stock Exchange. They’re going from one aisle to the next, pushing and pulling children, sometimes even their own, shouting at their spouse for not helping, whispering between clenched teeth that they will not buy that book with that picture, alas compromising on the pencil case with the attractive flavour of the month. It’s chaos, it’s a fighting field: the small kids tugging at their mum’s dress for attention, the teenagers trying to act as if they don’t know theirs, the two friends bumping into each other shrieking with delight, the grandma coming to replace her pencil crayon, oblivious to the parallel dimension she just stepped into.

At the cashier, the mountain of ‘fourniture scolaire’ piles up in front of the starry-eyed child. So many new belongings, all for him. He can’t remember when last he felt so ‘spoiled’. His heart is excited at what his mind hasn’t yet grasped; those white pages have to be filled with work, hours of work spent in the dim light of his desk lamp… but for now, he is over the moon with excitement.

Kching, Kching!!! The noise of the cash machine brings him back to reality. His excitement is disturbed only by the pale face of his parents, clearly unprepared for the exhuberant bill.

My palms get sweaty and I surprise myself wishing that I was 10 again, running through the aisles of that supermarket, begging my mum for this oh-so-necessary sharpener in the shape of a mermaid, or maybe just this rubber that smells like strawberry and finally throwing a caprice right there, embarrassing her in front of her peers, for that I-can’t-do-without pen that not only can write in more than one colour but also glows in the dark… No she will reply, those are only distractions.

Today, I smell my children’s new stationary, and the new plastic smell brings back, you know… the sparkle, the saliva, the fast beating of my heart…

Will I give in to the (non)essential heart-shaped rubber, or the glittery pencil case?

For myself I mean…


3 Responses to “C’est la rentrée…”

  1. kerry January 20, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    Aaahhh… Ingrid’s love of stationary. Now immortalised in a blog post. I too love stationary. But you take it to a new level! But getting all that new stuff is very exciting. We’re going to collect ours next friday. School starts Feb 3. Jesse is sooo ampted for his new uniform that has a blue not red shirt like in pre priamry. And Becky is bouncing up and down to go to her two day a week Kindy ( ie 4/5 year old= Kindy; 5/6 year old = Pre primary; and 6/7year old= Year 1)

  2. Alastair Sellick January 19, 2011 at 4:03 am #

    Ca, c’etait manufique a lire.
    Je vous remercie, parce que vous l’avez ecrit, comme moi, je me suis aussi souvigne.

    Bon chance, parce que demain, commencons nous avec la meme chose ici.

    Au revoir,

  3. Phillip January 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    That’s very funny! Thanks for the entertainment. 🙂

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