As I dropped Super PG off at school today with two chocolate birthday cakes for the kids in his class, I told the teacher and her classroom assistant to share any that was left over among the other “profs”. Well, today is World Teacher’s Day [#WorldTeachersDay] after all. Having to teach a big class of three year olds on a daily basis is a task worthy of slightly more than chocolate cake.
World Teacher’s Day
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela. How right he was. Educating and socialising our children, is, as far as I can make out, the only way of raising tolerant, knowledgeable people who can rise above using violence and settle differences with words, and to maintain and grow the economic health of our society. Good teachers are instrumental to us being able to protect our democratic society, security and freedom of speech, and the hope that these values will, one day, be effected in all corners of the world. We need to support our teachers, as educating our children well is the only way we can hope to create a peaceful future.
Anyway, down from the soapbox and back to the cake. Super PG’s teacher had mentioned at the parents’ meeting recently not to bring too much for birthdays as the kids are only given small pieces. But it’s always better to have too much cake than not enough, right?
Super PG’s third birthday party
Late Saturday night we blew up lots of balloons, prepared the party bags for Super PG’s friends to take home afterwards and finished wrapping his gifts.
As Super PG loves blue “cack-teurres” so much we had clubbed together with nana and papy to buy a blue remote control tractor – amongst other things – from the beautifully-designed Britain’s Big Farm range.
Super PG could not have been happier to meet his new blue tractor, but had other ideas when we tried to show him it was remote control.
Me: “If you press these buttons here it will make the tractor move by itself.”
Super PG (pushing it along with his hand): “No!”
Me (trying to give him the remote control): “Just have a go, I’m sure you will love driving it and the trailer around the room. You can put your animals on the back.”
Super PG (*high-pitched scream*): “No. No mote troll.” (No remote control, if you didn’t get the gist.)
Me (backing off): “Ok, ok, the whole point is to make you happy – let’s try later.”
French and English differences at the soft play party
Soft play centres for kids or “parc de loisirs pour enfants”, as they’re called here, are really popular in France. You wouldn’t necessarily think it when so much of what you read externally about the country is focused on the culture, wine, tourist attractions and property. But these kind of facilities in a town are really important for people like us with young kids and new ones are popping up all the time as the demand is now so great.
So on Sunday morning we rushed off early to decorate the tables with Disney’s Cars paraphernalia before his friends arrived. We (the royal kind) had asked in advance if it was okay to personalise the tables a little. The owners didn’t have a problem with it, but added that “the English always do that”.
Super H found this highly amusing. “It’s true,” he said, “the French couldn’t care less.” When I told one of the French mums at the party she laughed but also agreed. Haha, never mind, at least Super PG had his Cars tablecloth, plates and cups, and it all looked more special for him.
It was the first time we had really seen Super PG playing with his friends. Yes, they’ve known each other for three years from the creche previously, but we have never done playdates before now outside of school or creche. I’m not sure I’ve seen our little boy so happy before. Happy, yes, but this happy, it’s difficult to find an occasion that has beaten it. Between the laughing, jumping, holding hands and kisses the time went so fast – and there wasn’t any misbehaviour, tantrums or angry altercations. This group of little toddlers truly are buddies. It was a total pleasure and actually pretty moving at times to watch.
Towards the end they stopped for the cake and the blowing out of the candles (a Lightning McQueen one in the middle). It came out with a huge sizzling firework on it and all the kids watched open-mouthed as it burned like rocket flames. It was a bit of a hilarious “WTF” moment actually, I think Super PG thought he might have to blow that out!
Then it was time to open presents. On arrival the kids are directed by the soft play hosts to put their presents in a big white bin. Then, after the cake, or at the appropriate moment, the birthday boy or girl opens the presents in front of the other kids. People are so generous and I don’t think that Super PG could believe that all those gifts were for him.
As the French aren’t big on greetings cards, an issue at this point was figuring out who gave what as the gifts were opened as no cards or tags were attached. The French mums told me not to worry about it, that it’s all a collective effort, but I wanted to note it down so that we could make sure we said thank you for the right present in our thank you cards.
The French mums seemed a bit mystified by my concern and this kind of comment from me just makes Super H chuckle as he does not understand the concept of cards – at all.
Once he said to me: “What do you do with cards after you’ve read them, throw them away?” Horrified I told him that we “never” throw cards away. “Where do you put them then,” he asked. “In a drawer or box,” I told him. “We keep them.” He laughed so much. To him that is quite mad.
After lunch at an American fifties diner we went to the Chemin de Fer Touristique du Tarn. This quaint little steam train is one of Super PG’s favourite things to do. It takes you from the St Lieux lès Lavaur to the station at Les Jardins des Martels in Giroussens (or vice versa if you prefer) every hour during the afternoon. The gardens here were started by a couple in 1969 and are now so glorious that they attract 50,000 visitors a year.
How to make a happy toddler who goes to sleep quickly?
Yesterday, though, there was no time to see the giant lily pads and Japanese garden, after doing a return trip on the train we returned home for a birthday tea, Peppa Pig (or “Daddy Coco”) cake and bed time.
“I hope you had a lovely third birthday – you’re such a lucky boy getting all those presents from your friends,” I said to him as he snuggled under his George Pig bed covers.
“I’m a lucky boy…a lucky, lucky boy,” he smiled, as I gave him a kiss goodnight.
He turned his head to look at me. “More,” he said, as his eyes began to roll under his eyelids.
“More next year,” I whispered, “Night night.”
“Night mummy, see you in the morning.”
And – as if by magic – he drifted off to sleep.
So there you have it, how to get a toddler to a) be happy and, b) go to sleep quickly? Hold a birthday party every day!
Hope you had a good weekend too.