I’m now feeling a bit familiar with the functioning of preschool 149 in Warsaw. You enter through a gate, wheeling bikes which you park at the top of the stairs (mostly); or waving willow wands which you park behind a seat (“Not a seat Nanny Meg. A bench”): then you tap in the code to get into the building.  In the entrance hall, there are a number of containers: a kitchen tidy for the blue plastic covers for your shoes; a plastic crate to collect bottle tops and lids; and, in season, wooden crates of apples for the taking. There is also a display of work from each of the classes: butterflies with little shapes glued on, silver swans, street scenes made from boxes covered with newspapers, and a splendid garbage truck (a long-term fascination for the twins) made from bottle tops. The learning for the month for each Grupa and the menu for the day are pinned to notice boards, as well as an invitation to help yourself to apples and to join Grupa 1 for a performance.

Then you move into the cloak room. A shelf at the top is the spot for bike helmets. A small pigeon hole underneath is where you put the scarf, mittens, beanie, and odd dice or hairband. A double hook is where you hang coats and a bag containing a change of clothes and a bench is where you sit for clothes changing. Finally there’s another pigeonhole for shoes and slippers with a grated bottom: shoes are removed and slippers put on before you venture upstairs.

The stairs are wide and shallow, with a child-height handrail as well as an adult one, making me think the communist era building was probably purpose-built. As you enter the classroom area, there is a tub to receive the lovies, those toys brought to school for comfort in difficult moments: a leggy pink flamingo from a Stanthorpe op-shop, a bean bag frog, a little pink pig finger puppet, a ball, a possum, a dingo, a recorder have all served this purpose for the twins. Kitchen staff buzz in and out with trays of bread and cheese and ham and fruit for breakfast: the children sit at small tables. I don’t know how much our two eat – they’ve already had porridge or scrambled egg or toast at home. If you’re a bit late (or maybe a bit early) they’ll join their classmates sitting on a mat in the classroom.

At 3.30 you return for the pick-up. You ask through the intercom for Maja and Janek O to be brought downstairs, and wait at the bottom as they descend. Usually Jaś is talking nineteen to the dozen. Then there is a ritual performance: “Want daddy” it’s called. Soon however recalcitrant feet are in shoes, and the last rebellion (“Not put on coat”) is acceded to, guessing that cold will accomplish what babcia can’t. You sign them out and begin the 90 minute stroll through the park (you, ageing and slow, can walk it in fifteen minutes), rescuing “poor hurt flowers”; playing on grass islands left by the lawn mowers and brush cutters, and enjoying whatever other entertainment you happen across or create.

On Friday my daughter and I head down to the preschool for the concert for mothers and fathers and gate crashing babcias. We join M and many eager parents for a delightful hour as the children dance and sing and recite. From where I sit the stage is framed by heads and iPhones recording every minute. I’m awed by the amount these small people remember, and their energy. In the first sequence of dance, Jaś is dressed in black tunic, black leggings and a white bow tie, Maja in a pink tutu. I don’t manage to get good photos of this. The reports we had were that she doesn’t dance and yet here she was wiggling and twirling away. In the second sequence Jaś wore cat ears, which seemed to have trouble staying put, and Maja was a bee, with waving antennae. There was a gift for Mama, a candle on a stand made of pasta gold-sprayed and for Tata a cardboard tie with sparkly stick-ons.  I doted and grinned and felt privileged to be there. 

About morselsandscraps

A retired Australian who spends a lot of time in Warsaw, and blogs as a way of life.
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22 Responses to Preschool

  1. Lucid Gypsy says:

    What a wonderfully creative place, I love the trees in the little street scenes. Maya looks less than amused in one photo, definitely one to tease her with as she grows up! And lucky Tata receiving the pasta candle holder, I might make one of those!


    • Lucid Gypsy says:

      It’s also interesting, over here photos of other people’s children wouldn’t be allowed.


      • Heyjude says:

        I was thinking the same Gilly, and considering all the rules that seem to be in place for entering the preschool, I am surprised. Though saying that I did notice parents filming with their phones at a dance show my granddaughters took place in.


        • OK? I’ve removed the photos – but those wretched other people’s children kept getting in the way of my two. Maybe I could indulge in a bit of face-blur. And my two will be on every phone recording by other parents: one had a phone in the right hand and a camera in the left!


  2. Tish Farrell says:

    Just gorgeous pix of the children, and such a vivid pre-school portrait. Also the garbage truck is a whizz. And the bike park. But what a lot of organizing of children and children’s things, and of parents and grannies, covering every eventuality. I’m feeling quite tired after a day at school, and would certainly be dragging my heels through the park 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Becky B says:

    What fun 😀


  4. Heyjude says:

    I can’t help but feel that it was all so much simpler when my children were small. Walk to preschool, open door, drop them off. Walk away.


    • This is pretty well my first experience of preschool. H attended, but it was by correspondence. I volunteered at an Aboriginal preschool and had to have a police check for that. I hadn’t realised this one would look like Fort Knox!


  5. pommepal says:

    What a memorable time you are having with all the routine of the twins day. Do any of the other children have babcias bringing them to school?


    • Yes. And the odd dziadek too. Although we,Ve never dropped them off on our own. We all go mostly – M works just round the corner, and on three days R’s classes are later. Today will be out first pick-up with bikes.


      • pommepal says:

        It is so convenient that you live close together, like an old style commune or extended family.


        • We were incredibly lucky to find this apartment – thank you Airbnb. I can carry a pot of curry or soup from one to the other, and we can babysit while parents go on a date and then crawl into our own beds. We only have it till September, but I’m about to make moves to extend.


          • pommepal says:

            I find Airbnb to be such a good scheme. We have used it a lot and never had a bad experience or unfriendly hosts, not to mention the prices are so reasonable.


  6. Rosemary Barnard says:

    The photos of the costumed children were the best part of this lovelypost, so I am sorry that after some of the comments you thought better of their inclusion and deleted them. Surely, with all the other security measures in place, if there had been a no photography rule in place it would have been enforced by supervising staff. Other countries, other rules. I suppose that next time you could discretely ask, just to be sure, bearing in mind that by asking you might then upset the apple cart by stopping the practice of turning a blind eye on rule-breaking.


    • I don’t have a huge audience, so most people will have seen the photos. I’ve done this before with sensitive images, just given them a brief outing. They were pretty cute, even if not my best photos. I took movies too – and one of them had the kids on stage cut out halfway through. I am no movie maker. My other granddaughter should have been here!


  7. restlessjo says:

    I’m hurt! Saves me right for being dilatory! Will you email me the photos, please? I promise to treat them responsibly. 😦


  8. quollgirl says:

    I’m glad I saw Maja looking like the world’s grumpiest bumble-bee. That hideous flamingo keeps on showing up everywhere – a master-stroke against the clean white lines and natural fibres that Kon-Marie would encourage!


    • Will you stop driving me into the arms of Mr / Ms Google?? Every time you post anywhere you use a term I’ve never heard. And I’m not sure Mr / Ms helped this time.

      Don’t knock Flamingo (now called Ringo after a character in a book). After all you were responsible for exporting her / him from Stanthorpe, and we’ve had good value. By the way, Alphabetapillar ‘s feet are falling off one by one, but they know all the letters, attaching each to a name. Another Stanthorpe export.


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