The trouble with being an ex-pat in a place where you can only speak in the native's second language poses many problems, even more so if you don't even speak that language very well. Well it's September again, and I am thrust head first once again into a world of not knowing what the hell I'm doing.
Today was a case in point. I'd forgotten it was PE day or what we affectionately term 'Tracksuit Tuesday' on account of the hideous navy and green 100% polyester tracksuits they have to wear. Yes, you did read right, 100% polyester, in Spain! You know because it never gets hot, no sir, why on earth would they need a natural breathable fabric like cotton per say? A tracksuit who colours make Joseph look like he's been suffering from some terrible disease as all the colour leaches out of his face and two dark rings instantly appear under his eyes the minute he dons the jacket, clearly colourings made for the more olive tones of his Catalan classmates! The tracksuit, as well as being a fire hazard, seriously I'm sure I've seen friction sparks come off it when he runs, also has the undesirable effect of making my beautiful, angelic 4 year old look like he's come directly from a housing estate in inner city Nottingham, armed with a petrol can to torch your car. He wouldn't need a lighter or matches, he could just run really quickly around the car to spark the fire. Anyhow... I seem to have completely digressed (can you tell how much I hate this tracksuit), thankfully the powers that be at school deem the 30º temperature too hot for said tracksuit, so the summer PE kit of cotton t-shirt and nylon(!) shorts are to be worn.
This is where my first school confusion of the term comes into play. Some of Joseph's classmates seem to wearing their brand spanking new school badge emblazoned t-shirt and shorts combo. 'Where the Charles Dickins did they get those?' I question out loud to no-one in particular. My last dealing with said summer PE kit was another confused and fraught encounter at, of all obscure places, the post office. I had been sent a form to fill out for the PE kit requirements (I was pleased to see that the above described tracksuit had been replaced with a black & red number in COTTON, praise be to the Lord! Sadly for us though Joseph's current car-thief tracksuit is still huge on him and will most definitely get another year's wear, especially given that we parted with €50 for the garment). The form was to be filled in and given in at the post office, which did strike me as odd at the time but considering we pay for all school related fees at the Rice Co-operative I figured anything goes in this odd little town. In true Catalan style the form arrived on the Friday and needed to be addressed by the Tuesday. In true Very Bored style I left it until quarter to twelve on the Tuesday to deal with it.
'Tienes un sobre?' snapped the little twig-like woman behind the counter?
'Que?' I reply in bestest Spanish. 'An envelope? Where does it say anything about an envelope?' I think, scrutinising the form.
'You need an envelope' she says, it's now ten to twelve and the post office shuts at twelve.
'Surely there must be an spare envelope knocking around?' I enquire on accounting of me being in a post office of all places. It would appear not and I am dispatched home to fetch an envelope. At five to twelve I come crashing in through the door again, clutching the form and envelope whilst wheezing heavily. I take out my purse to give her the money for the clothes, she shakes her head. Taking the envelope and writing an address on it and then weighing it, as you do, for the price of the stamp.
'I see.' I muse. 'Why the fuck didn't the form say, "send this form off without money to this address then?"' Before I could ask when & where I need to collect the PE kit from and indeed pay for it, I was being ushered out of the door as it was time to close up.
Fast forward then back to today, and the children in their gleaming new kits, what do they know that I don't? How have they got theirs and we're bereft? I was just about to garble some inquiry together when I realised that out of Joseph entire class only 2 kids actually had the new kit, the rest were dressed in their normal clothes. Hmmm, so is today 'Tracksuit Tuesday'? Have the kits even arrived yet? Are these children wearing new kits the offspring of incredibly forward thinking Mama's who bought two sets last year, one aged 3 and one aged 4? Who knows? Who could tell? It is after all just another day in my perpetual state of confusion.