They're back. The salt mines have finally reopened. I have taken the official Gulag portrait:
I'm quite surprised by how little they have changed, actually. They look slightly sombre on the official portrait, but I can assure you it was business as usual.
They were probably just tired, because we got up at six to go and see the hedgehog. The hedgehog was not cooperative, but in recognition of our efforts, the CFO donned his motorcycle gloves to wake it up for us. It was totally worth the early start.
It looked how I feel, getting up at 6am. Dishevelled, disorientated, and on a fast track back to bed.
In some arcane Gulag ceremony, Fingers was required to line up in the hall and walk, to parental applause from the maternelle (gulag lite, soup at 11am, pickaxes provided) to the primaire (full metal gulag, 18 hour day with a half hour lunchbreak mucking out on the collective farm, but you can choose your own 11am snack). This is the end of his carefree infancy in the company of Mario and Luigi, we will be doing handwriting practice until our pencils are soaked in blood. His brother came home this lunchtime (YES. The first day of school lasted a magnificent THREE WHOLE HOURS) having been to his first Dutch lesson. He pulled a French face of indifference.
"C'est exactement comme l'anglais". Pout. Shrug. I am looking forward to us learning an exciting new language together, hem hem.
I note that the Dutch textbook features an alarming bearded man taking two small children .. somewhere.
I would discourage my child in the strongest terms from going anywhere with Robald. I mean, look at him. At best, he's going to make you play non-competitive games featuring co-operating tribes in a forest somewhere. At worst .. well. I bet he has a geetar and knows several chords for 'Little Boxes'. The whole thing is, in the words of Molesworth, unspeakably sordid*.
(*He is describing the French textbook. "There is another character called papa rat. He is always eating cheese. He loves cheese. Mama rat loves cheese too. They hav ten little rats who love cheese. In fact, the whole business is unspeakably sordid")
I must go and wrestle with the self-adhesive book covering torture that is my life for the next few days. It is day one. I have covered 7 books with all the skill of an epileptic dog and a light smattering of anglo-saxon vocabulary. I apparently owe the school TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY EUROS for a coach trip to stare at some dust and a month's worth of chicon braisé and boulettes. It's going to be a long, long year.