Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fête des écoles

The Fête des écoles, is the end of school festival.  I had no idea what a big deal this is, but it's huge.  There's two of them - one for younger kids (Peter's age up till about 8) and another for older kids.  This past Wednesday, which is normally a day off school, the school festival for the younger kids took place at the Parc de Bastion, close to the old town.  Peter got dropped off at the school, then he marched with his class to the park, where there were all kinds of rides, exhibitions, and shows.  There were many shows focusing on Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the famous Genevan philosopher of the 18th century - anyway, as much as you can focus on a philosopher when your audience is between 5 and 8.  Peter was there all afternoon, and then I took the tram to pick him up at 5:30.  As I got closer in the tram, I saw just how jam-packed it was.  It seemed like thousands of parents were there, waiting for the gates of the park to be opened so they could pick up their little kid.  I searched for Peter about 20 minutes.  The organization was a little bit lacking in terms finding your kids again.  Then after I found Peter, getting out again was pretty tricky.  But overall Peter liked it.

Then Friday evening was the Fête des écoles for Kenny's age and up - around 8 or 9 to 12 or so.  The festival was in Parc La Grange, very close to our apartment building.  They had huge bouncy houses set up, climbing walls, a concert stage that played pop music at a surprisingly reasonable volume, and all kinds of other things to tickle the fancy of kids that age.  Lots of kids were running around in groups, and Kenny found some kids from his class to hang out with, which was nice.

Peter fell in love with the climbing wall, and waited in line to go up it 4 times!  The last time he was on his own, without any friends.  He managed to get to the front okay, and got himself strapped into the harness.  But then he stood around so long, without going up to do the climbing, that one of the people working there assumed that he'd already gone up, and unstrapped him from the harness!  A kid from Kenny's class who knew Peter ran up to me, and told me Peter was crying, and after Peter had calmed down I got the story from him.  We managed to get him in the harness again, and he climbed up to his heart's content.  It really struck me that in the US, they would NEVER have allowed 5 year olds (or any kids or adults, for that matter) to go up on a climbing wall without lengthy signed permission slips, etc.  Here they had a semi-automated system where the kids could go up without anyone manning the ropes - somehow the ropes stayed taut while they were climbing, and then let them down when they reached the top.  And hundreds if not thousands of kids had fun on the climbing wall without a lot of bureaucracy .

Kenny's been bringing home all the projects that he's worked on throughout the year.  He sewed up a pillow, made a hand-sawed jigsaw puzzle - a lot of projects that, in the US, would not have been done because they would have taken away time from subjects that are evaluated on standardized tests - math, reading, etc.  I think doing that kind of handicraft has been a really good experience for him.

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