On Monday school starts for all three children. The little two are going to go to a sweet little primary school here in Abu Dhabi called The Pearl, and Olivia, who starts ‘big’ school is off to Repton in Dubai.
Repton is an English school and Olivia will be a boarder. As with all things English, such as seeing Waitrose washing-up liquid in Spinneys supermarket here or walking into M&S, this makes me feel terribly secure for some reason. I don’t mean the boarding, but the Englishness of it.
Olivia will have to wear a school uniform. A few days ago I sent over the uniform list and pictures to my mother for Olivia to see them. She is still in Italy, avoiding the desert heat until the last possible moment.
I called her to see what she thought. “Well,” she began. “I like the blazer and the sweatshirt, but I will NOT be wearing that shirt, or those long socks.”
I did explain to her that a uniform is not something one wears on a voluntary basis. She was amazed. And kept on complaining about the shoes.
So Sunday night she and I (and nasty shoes) travel up to Dubai so we can be at school at 8am the following morning. I am really excited and so is she. I never really felt at home with the French system.
I remember my step-father when I was about 18 berating me for being middle-class. “I can just see you, when you’re grown-up and married, in your middle-class home, with your middle-class husband, sending your middle-class children off to boarding school,” he shouted.
Even when I was 18 I saw nothing at all wrong with that scenario….
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011