First Day of School

Today was Adele’s first day of school at the Cranleigh School. It was a really rough day. Not for her – she was a scholastic superstar – but I had one of my lowest mom moments ever.

We were instructed to arrive at school around 7:30am. There would be time to introduce ourselves, tour the classroom, give Adele a feel for the place (and learn where the bathrooms were), etc, before class started at 8:00. I knew it might take some extra time to get to Cranleigh, because it is a brand new build on a newly developed island and the cab drivers do not know their way around yet. (This is actually a HUGE annoyance to me; I have been in Abu Dhabi for about two weeks and always have to give the cab drivers directions – as if I have any clue how to navigate around!) So, last night, I planned to leave the apartment at 7:00 with Adele, and I set my alarm for 6:00.

First of all, I had a bad dream. I was attacked by a scorpion bigger than my shoe. Yuck. I woke up right out of the dream with that really uncomfortable feeling that one gets when they go directly from dreaming to waking (especially with a nightmare, you know?).  Anyway, I looked at my phone and it was about 5:50am, so I stayed awake and waited for my alarm to go off. Except that it didn’t! Turns out I had actually set it for 6:30, so thank goodness for that scorpion nightmare!

That nightmare story doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of the day, but it immediately put me in an negative headspace.

Anyway, the day itself started off well. I got to wake up the girls, which is so much fun to do, because I love to see how they’re been sleeping in the night. I woke them up gently with kisses and Adele shot up in excitement and said something like, “I get to go to school today!!!”

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May insisted on wearing Adele’s uniform hat. She wants to be just like her big sister!

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Tired baby with Baa Baa

We had a nice breakfast of toast and jam, then, while li’l piggy May was still finishing up, Adele got into her uniform and she and I hurried out to catch a cab. (Jeff stayed home with May.)

Saying goodbye for the first time

Saying goodbye for the first time

Okay, so here’s where it all goes south. There are no cabs. I try calling the main dispatcher. Can’t get through. Call about twenty times. Each time, it says, first in Arabic and then in English, “We’re sorry, all lines are busy. Please call back in five or ten minutes.” It doesn’t even give me the option to hold for the first available operator. Okay, so, I keep hanging up and redialing. Finally, I get a person. I tell them where I am and where I need to go (a whopping nine minutes away, according to Google Maps, but unwalkable, because it’s all highway and 100 humid degrees). They say, “I’m sorry. There is no taxi in your area. Please try again in five or ten minutes.” This goes on for FORTY MINUTES. I am frantically either redialing and not getting through or getting a live person who only tells me that there are.no.taxis.at.all.anywhere.near.me.and.none.will.come. I am crying/okay, really bawling at this point. It’s Adele’s first day of school…and we’re already late…and there is no prospect of getting out in the near future. I felt utterly helpless. I had failed Adele. Adele, of course, is trying to comfort me this whole time, stroking my hand and telling me, “Don’t worry, Mommy. It’s going to be okay. We’re going to get there. Everything is alright.”

I see a father and daughter in Cranleigh uniforms who have reserved a private car, so I run over to ask if I can share the ride, but then I see the rest of the family trailing behind and realize that we won’t all fit. Thankfully, this car does prove to be my saving grace, but only after it returns with just the parents. Then, the driver lets me get in, probably because I’m a sad, sorry sight, and he speeds over to the school to get us there asap. The real bonus is that, since he just brought the other family to Cranleigh, he knew exactly how to go and I didn’t need to guide him through the construction.

They don't often use car seats here. It's a little unsettling. We will use our car seats when we get our own car.

They don’t often use car seats here. It’s a little unsettling. We will use our car seats when we get our own car.

Long story short, we made it to school riiiiiight at 8:00. It took us an hour to go nine minutes away. I thought we were never going to get there. I thought Adele was going to miss her very first day of school. She didn’t, and she was cheery throughout the whole ordeal, but the one thing I lost (besides my sanity) was the opportunity to take sweet first-day-of-school pictures. I snapped this one right outside of the school, and you can see how happy she is to be there:

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Oh, my little angel. Looking at that face melts my heart. She is so good, through and through.

I also took these pictures after I hurled her into the classroom:

Meeting her teacher and teacher's aide

Meeting her teacher and teacher’s aide

Correctly covering a cough

Correctly covering a cough

My gorgeous gal (along with Aniston, whom I do not yet know, but whose name stuck in my head)

My gorgeous gal (along with Aniston, whom I do not yet know, but whose name stuck in my head)

Looking like two waitresses at a retro diner

Looking like two waitresses at a retro diner

Getting right to play

Getting right to play

We did briefly meet Adele’s teacher at the induction last week. (Induction must be British-speak for welcome ceremony.) Her name is totally awesome. She’s Mrs. Peripoli. That’s pronounced “Perry-Poley,” but with a South African accent. So cute. She’s young and blonde and when I told the lady at the front desk which teacher my daughter had, she lit up and went on and on about how all the teachers are good, but Mrs. Peripoli is the absolute best and Adele is sooo lucky to have her, and she even said it’s all downhill from her! I hope to have more of a chance to get to know her once the insanity of the first day/week dies down (and the real parents stop dropping their kids off and the nannies take over).

Even after I dropped Adele off in her classroom and knew she was going to be just fine, I was still super stressed out. I guess the adrenaline was pumping through my body and I carried that stress around all day. It was stress & sadness and even though everything worked out, I physically felt the weight. It was so uncomfortable.

I did try to snap a few more pictures of the facilities for you guys. Here are two pictures of the giant play area in between all the FS2 (Foundation Stage 2 aka Kindergarten Part Two) classrooms:

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And I did take some more when I returned – this time with Jeff – in the afternoon:

The dining hall for just Adele's age group (the rest of the school dines elsewhere). Meals at the school are served family-style with the teachers and the children are expected to learn proper table manners and use a knife and fork.

The dining hall just for Adele’s age group (the rest of the school dines elsewhere). Meals at the school are served family-style with the teachers and the children are expected to learn proper table manners and use a knife and fork.

The welcome desk

The welcome desk

These dudes

These dudes

When we went to pick up Adele at the end of the school day (2:30pm), we gave ourselves pleeeeeenty of extra time, just in case. But it was no longer rush hour and we had no problem getting a cab. So we had to wait in the reception area, which pleased May at first:

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But then she grew impatient for her sister! (Oh, I forgot to mention, when I came back to the apartment after dropping Adele off in the morning, May ran up to me happily, but IMMEDIATELY said, “Where’s Adele? Where’s Adele?” and kept talking about her alllll day. She wasn’t sad per se, but anxious to have her back again.)

This is her "why won't they let us into Adele's area?" face

This is her “why won’t they let us into Adele’s area?” face

When 2:30 rolled around, they let us into the FS2 section. The children were all ready to go, with their hats on and briefcases re-packed:

I took this through the classroom window

I took this through the classroom window

She sees me through the window. And scratches her butt.

She sees me through the window. And scratches her butt.

Possibly a little overwhelmed by all the people milling about and our sudden barrage of questions

Possibly a little overwhelmed by all the people milling about and our sudden barrage of questions

I took her to a more quiet part of the hall and talked all about her first day of school:

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She said it was “great!,” she liked all the girls, but didn’t quite know about the boys yet, she was one of only a few who remembered that they were supposed to bring in something special for show & tell (she chose her very first Barbie, the ballerina from Uncle Scotty, in the white dress handmade by Nonnie), and her favorite part of the day was painting.

Here is the schoolgirl, in all her glory:

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Ooh Lord, something tells me I am going to be seeing a lot of this face as the years go by.

And that was the end of the story of Adele’s first day of school. Here we are back on campus, included mostly because this post did not yet have enough pictures in it (ha!) and so that you can see some of NYUAD:

The grove of palms in the center of campus

The grove of palms in the center of campus

We have already scheduled in advance a taxi cab for tomorrow morning. And I am renting a car for a week after that. Hopefully that will give us enough time to do all the things we need to do before we can legally lease a car for the long term!

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3 thoughts on “First Day of School

  1. Adele looks absolutely adorable in her uniform. Cranleigh looks like a very, very nice school for her. Thanks for all the great photos!

  2. It really, honestly seems like she was just born. I can’t ever believe how quickly time passes. Congratulations to Dill, and to all of you.

    • The thing is, she is so mature – and has been since she was about 1 1/2 – that she seems older than she is. So it feels like she should have been in school a long time ago. Also, she’s one of the youngest in her class, since she just turned four in August, but she is a head taller than many of them! Didn’t expect that of my child.

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