Sep 052012

So, today was DD’s return to Hogwarts and DS’s triumphant entry into the Wizarding School.  And an eventful day it was, too……

Please, Dear Mother.  Save me from this Horrible Homework Troll!!!

But, I get ahead of myself.  First….

The Morning:

I like to think our household is far more like the Weasley abode than Harry Potter’s.  Minus a few kids, of course, and the liberal dose of Ginger…..  Our loss, I am sure.  But, whatever the case, we started the day far too early with homemade biscuits (from homemade buttermilk!) and eggs.  Then we took the obligatory First Day of School photos,  hopped in the flying car and headed on over to Hogwarts.

DD was considering transferring to a degree in transmogrification.
Here is her attempt at becoming a Gremlin.
What do you think?
Magic Supplies are HEAVY

We need some sort of
Portable Hole for school supplies

Swish and Flick!
Or maybe a leviosa spell would help!
Buck up, Brother!  It’s Sorting Day!
Think you will be in Slytherin?

 Obligatory Mom photos…


A little squinty, but still cute


Once we arrived at the school, it was time for the Homeroom Sorting Ceremony.  We walked over to where the ceremony was held last year- only to discover a man on a microphone reading off names and sorting the dregs of a group of kids into …. Wait a minute- we were still 1/2 hour early!  Had we made a mistake?  Luckily, no.  Turns out this was the Muggle School that shares the same grounds going through their first day ceremonies!  Doh.  So, we set about to waiting.

And waiting.

I remind you at this point that Hogwarts is located in France.  We were meant to arrive at 9 AM.  We got there around 8:30, but found parking far quicker than anticipated.  Now it was… hmmm

Yeah.  Still waiting.

Happy to have put backpacks down!

The good news is that many of DD’s friends had arrived by now and were milling about.

MoOoom!  Stop taking pictures!

But I had to get a shot of this lovely
present one of her friends brought her.
I suspect it was bought in Hong Kong

Hogwarts, being a truly multicultural school, has students genuinely from all over the world.  And many of them visited friends and relatives over the summer, or just headed off into unexpected regions because- well, that is what Hogwarts families do.  It was fun watching everyone’s T-shirts as they arrived for school.  Of the students I know personally, I can confirm that the places the shirts mentioned were places the students had recently traveled!

The New Headmaster
Shortly before 9:30 the new Headmaster arrived and took up the microphone to welcome the students and introduce himself. Oddly enough, he seemed an awful lot like a somewhat smaller, less loquacious version of the old headmaster!  The old headmaster, incidentally, is apparently setting up a new school in Marrakech!  I told you, these wizards get around! 

Doesn’t really look like Dumbledore-
Maybe in his earlier years?

Our new leader was a little nervous, but pleasant enough.  He has been a principal/headmaster/director* before, but this was his first day with students at this school.  He only gave his speech in French, but greeted us briefly in English and German, as well.  Returning to the photo for a moment, look just behind and to the right of our new headmaster.  I would really not like to be on the receiving end of Madame Umbridge’s baneful gaze!  She is actually the Assistant Director.  Nowhere near as unhinged or nasty as Book Umbridge, but definitely not someone I wish to run afoul of!
* (we use all three terms since it is the same role and people here are as likely to use one as another)

After his speech, he handed off the microphone to the teachers who read off their class lists, gathering their new students.  DS got exactly the teacher we had hoped and expected that he would!  I am going to say that of the Harry Potter group, Mr. Purcell (Pronounced PUR-suhl) is probably most like McGonagall, though much more outgoing.  Middle aged, smart, charismatic, passionate, friendly, and with a wonderful Gaelic accent- though his, I believe, is Irish (accents get a little tricky when you are dealing with folks who speak 3-4 languages each, all in a tight little cluster- I think I have mentioned that DD often comes home with a rather modified British accent that she can’t shake for hours).  He teaches Ethics, Social Studies and History so both kids have him as an instructor.  DS trotted off with his new class and started right in trying to get to know people.  We were pleased to see DS was not the only tall kid in his class- I think the African boy on the left with the short cropped hair is taller, though he is scrunched in this photo.

DS got right to work introducing himself

Hogwarts Annex

This year the Upper Grades have moved into a new quick-built building across the street.

Not this building down the street
Nor this one, a couple blocks away

Nice stone cottage…. in the quad
The buildings next door…. Again, stone.  Oldish. Grand.

And, here is the new building:

Ummm, Think anyone will notice the Wizards next door?

DD joined her class. 

This year DD’s principal teacher is the Maths instructor, who I believe is from India and has a wonderful British Indian accent.  This will not help DD shake her off-kilter British accent, I suspect!  I will call this teacher Septima Vector :)  She and DD usually get along fine because they both have an ultimate love of all things logical and mathematical.  Though, they do sometimes clash over DD’s lack of manners and tendency to speak out when she senses something is wrong.  Interestingly,  DD will have the other Maths teacher, Mme Lardge (whose name is too wonderful to change) because she is taking the advanced course.  Mme Lardge also teaches Physics, so she will be seeing a lot of DD!

The Malfoy Incident
Malfoy is German and currently a second year.

Last year DD had a few issues with wandering groups of bored, surly students seeking her out to give her a hard time.  Yes, Bullying exists in the wizarding world, as anyone who has interacted with Slytherins will certainly attest.  The worst cases were reported and dealt with.  But, one group of younger boys largely slipped through the radar.  They were first years, so DD was just vaguely amused by their antics at first.  For instance, when one of them ran over and touched her ankle on a dare.  But, as they got more bold and aggressive she grew more concerned.  They took to calling her Ugly Betty, which she thought was silly, but largely harmless- except when they refused to leave her alone.  Their leader was a small animated boy whom she initially took as a clown.  By the end of the year she was fed up with them.  But, she had been unable to identify them to anyone in authority, so nothing really came of it. 

When she is unable to find her groups of friends- or just feels the desire- DD likes to sit in a quiet place and draw during the recesses.  Often students will come watch her or request specific drawings, and that is fine with her.  But, usually they will just leave her alone, and that is sometimes preferred.  DD likes to have some quiet space in her life. 

So, it was that yesterday at first break DS found his sister sitting alone quietly drawing.  The two of them exchanged stories about their mornings and compared schedules, discussed teachers, etc.  Soon, a group of boys approached and encircled them. Malfoy was their leader.  They started out taunting DD, calling her Ugly Betty.  Then they demanded to know who DS was. 

“Do you like him.” taunted Malfoy,  “Is he your…..”
DS and DD replied almost in unison “brother!
“Of course” sneered Malfoy, “Now I see the family resemblance!”
(cue unpleasant chortles from his followers- Crabbe, Goyle, Frankenstein, Monster and the rest- I am told there were 5-7 of them)

At this point DD decided it was time to make their exit and stood up to put away her drawing supplies.  Perhaps he wanted her to sit back down, or maybe the negative energy just overflowed at that instant. Whatever the case,  Malfoy gave DD a shove. 

“Leave my sister alone!” responded DS, shoving Malfoy in return.  He hadn’t just spent a year in Durmstrang for nothing.  He understood the German ritual of a shove-fight.  It can be done in fun, or it can be more aggro.  DS had learned this the hard way early last year.  This match got aggro quickly.  He and Malfoy singled each other out, while the rest got into a tussling free-for-all with a lot of jostling going around.  At this point many other students had gathered and some of DD’s friends were trying to separate the groups.

“Come on, Let it go.” DD told her brother, trying to draw him away.

Seeing that people were trying to diffuse the situation, he acquiesced.  He turned to follow his sister out of the area.

But, Malfoy wasn’t ready to back down quite yet.  He took the cheap shot and shoved DS’s head while his back was turned.  When DS popped back up and pivoted to meet the attack, Malfoy hauled off and smacked him in the face.  The blow was hard enough to knock tears into DS’s eyes (“I wasn’t crying, but my eyes did water!” he points out.  We assured him that  a blow to the face will have that affect).  It also made his face quite red and- most alarming to the crowd- quickly caused his lip to swell up like a sausage!  (“It felt like one of the tumors on the rats,” he descriptively conveyed.)

“Oh!  Are you all right?  I didn’t mean to!” etc. was stammered out unconvincingly from the offending party.   This is because by then some of the older girls had managed to seek out Yard Duties.  All the key players were moved into a small office where the questioning commenced.

The Aftermath
The yard duties speak primarily French, but one of them had a little English.  Apparently DS’s swollen face, Malfoy’s reputation, and the corroborating testimony of DD was enough to convince them that this was not a mutual-aggression sort of situation.  The kids are a little light on what exactly went down in this talk, but believe Malfoy claimed that he and his friends were just there to ‘find out who DS was’, as The New Kid.  The yard duties told them that “you pen in animals to test them, you don’t pen in people.  You can’t treat people like animals!”

DD explained that she found this whole train of conversation a little perplexing, but as long as they were giving Malfoy the What For, she was largely OK with it.  After the initial questioning was done they were released.

A little later, Malfoy showed up to fetch DS to the new Headmaster.  DS was asked to tell his side of the story, which he did.  Always considerate and, by now, an accomplished non-native communicator, DS relayed the events using many hand gestures and pantomimes. He was, after all, unsure of the headmaster’s English skills.  After that, the headmaster apparently turned his attention to lecturing Malfoy, though DS was unable to follow the French conversation at all.  (Malfoy speaks German, but prefers French- as does the headmaster).  Then, apparently the headmaster turned to talk exclusively with Umbridge…. and the boys, confused, slunk out of the room wondering if they had been dismissed.

Finally, DS encountered Mr. Purcell/McGonagall.  After retelling the story a third time, DS was reassured that should anything of that nature occur again, he should definitely tell him.  Then the proactive, imposing teacher sought out Malfoy and put him on notice.  It was in French, again, but DS believes the general message was clear: I have my eye on you!!!

So, yes, after a day like that, we have decided that DS has definitely been sorted into Gryffindor.

Such a ham!
By the time DS got home the swelling was gone.
Indeed, when I picked him up I had no clue anything
had happened until he told me about it!

DD putting protective arms
around her wounded brother

Other Hogwarts Developments:

  1. DS got into the L2 German Section, which means that his primary second language will officially be German.  He won’t need to start learning French for school until next year, and his first non-English core classes will all be in German.  We tried to get this for DD last year, but she was the only one in her entire class who wanted it, so they couldn’t do it.  This will give DS more time to adjust to the third language, which is definitely a good thing!
  2. DS reports that he likes his German teacher.  But, “She is very into work, I guess you could say.”  She was the only teacher to give homework on the first day of class.  And, the second! We had teased him about having to face a Troll on his first day.  Now he knows that we meant the Great Homework Troll!!!
  3. There are NO days when the kids start or finish class at the same time.  
  4. But, DD’s schedule this year is really a lot less complicated.  No alternating week schedule.  Hooray!  She starts school at the same time every day, gets off at five PM three days a week, and around 1 the other two days.  Makes for a long school day, but she has some open sections in the middle of the day, so she should be able to draw and get homework done.
  5. DS unfortunately does have an alternating week schedule.  He starts school 15 minutes before DD (no big deal), but has 7 different ending times depending on the week!  Oof.  Mondays are going to be trickiest because he gets out of school between 2-3 hours earlier than DD that day.  I am thinking he and I may spend some quality French Shopping and Exploration time on Mondays.
  6. Pretty sure DD’s calculator will have more computing power than my first 5 computers, combined.  “Ah, but can it play games?” asked a friend… Yes, says the internet!
  7. Our bank in Offenburg does not use paper checks.  Period.  Will not.  Cannot.  No teller checks, no certified checks, nuthin’!  What does this have to do with school?  For purchasing the calculator, we were supposed to send a check to Hogwarts in order to get a 46 EU discount through a group deal.  Germans typically do direct transfers and wanted bank account info. But I think the check was made out to the company we were purchasing from, not the school.  Eventually Hogwarts just told us to send gold coins.
  8. DD will be expected to dissect a rabbit next week for Biology.  She is not liking this aspect of Bio.  But, given that rabbits are a common food item around here, I am thinking many kids may already have seen many of the bunny insides.
  9. The bells at the old school play the theme to the exorcist.  But the bells at the new building play Close Encounters of the Third Kind!  Hee.
  10. Pretty much the entirety of France and Germany is one giant Road Project right now.  There are detours and delays all over.  Sort of nuts trying to get to and from Hogwarts on Muggle Roads.
French Road work- by committee

German Roadwork, very orderly.  Still slow, but orderly.
(block one lane, siphon people through taking turns!)

Blocked French Road

That is usually a road… Now it is a detour

And more…

What do French people do when faced with detours and road work?
See the black car at the right?  He is driving down a bike and walking path.
They also honk and shout.  Not sure how that helps.

Once the kids got home, they grabbed popsicles and headed out onto the balcony, where this wonderful Magic Creature landed and sat to hang out and say hello.

Hey there, beautiful!

Day Two Addendum: Knock Wood today was much smoother.  But, everyone is exhausted and cranky.  Still trying to get our sleep schedules and general flow down for School!  DS reports that not only did he fail to see Malfoy, he didn’t see DD.  She reports that this is because at the new building, she is not allowed to cross the street unaccompanied (insurance liability), so she has to take Wednesday break in the other quad.  Given that the older kids tend to be more into their own business and less in hers, that may just be fine.

A random picture of David with a Degu

DH bonding with Tristana

Next up: Learning languages, fighting moths, and whatever else comes up!

  One Response to “Hogwarts Revisited, or Zwei Kinder dans La Chambre des Secrets”

  1. Looking forward to the next post. :) Remember, swish and flick, guys. Swish and flick. Or if all else fails, keep your wrists straight!

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