The first day

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After I dropped Julz off at school today and after my mandatory ‘parking lot cry’, I set off in search of the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  It wasn’t really about the cookies but rather about me needing to occupy my time and to create something that would bring an inkling of happiness to my girl’s day.

Today was not only her first day of the new school year but also her first day at the local Swiss school.  A day that she’s been dreading since we first arrived here in Zürich.  After 3 months of intense German lessons, followed by Summer break, it’s now time to integrate and to start her journey into the Swiss schooling system.  Ready or not, here we go!

Unfortunately Julz was less than ready and our final Summer moments were filled with anxiety, dread and a lot of tears.

This is all new territory, and hell, are we ever learning.  School starts at 8:30 and ends at either 15:15 or 16:15, depending on the day except for Wednesdays when school closes as 12:00.   School closes for 1.5 hours at noon each day and the kids are sent back home for lunch.  There are two local schools which service our community and the kids are responsible for getting themselves to school by either walking or riding their bikes.

Julia is in a class of 7 students.  Actually, the 7 students make up the whole grade – 4 girls; 3 boys.  She has one teacher who teaches all of the subjects.  All of her subjects are taught in German apart from English and French.

In South Africa, we prepare for the start of the new school year by ordering text books and buying new uniforms, books, stationery, school bags, lunch boxes, etc.  In Switzerland, we buy shoes – apparently.  I learnt this little bit of information on Sunday afternoon (when all the shops were closed) as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed.  I dashed next door to Heidi who confirmed that a standard back to school shopping list for moms in Switzerland consists of indoor sneakers, outdoor sneakers, ‘house-shoes’ (slip on slippers for indoors), rain boots, snow boots, etc.  Luckily, we’re still in the Summer months and wearing a pair of socks or going bare foot is perfectly acceptable inside the classroom and Julz has more than enough sneakers to go around.  EVERYTHING else is provided for by the school.

My two school drops offs in Switzerland (you can read about the first one here), have by far been some of the hardest parts of my mothering journey.  On our walk to school today, I could sense her anxiousness, I felt her grip and I casually mentioned that we should turn around and run away and I’d be lying if I said that I was joking or that she didn’t half consider it, but then we were met by two wonderful teachers who briskly whisked her away, chatting to her non-stop in German.  She didn’t even have a chance to look back at me.

When we met her this afternoon, she was walking with her new friends.  She casually walked up to me, gave me a jab with her elbow and said “Why were you so stressed?”.

Oh, and the cookies?  They were delicious!

*****

Each year on the first day of school, I ask the same question and then photograph her answer.  This was today’s answer, the same answer for the fourth year in a row.