This year, Juliette started school. It was time to come to terms with the fact she had grown up (I mean really, where does the time go?!), and navigate the French public school system. We attended a number of information meetings organised by the school - we left more confused than when we arrived but enthusiastic about the school’s philosophy. She embraced her new life quickly, the adjustment softened by the presence of her best friend from day care. As we prepared to close out the first week, feeling relieved that her only irritation was going to the canteen, she brought home the cahier de liaison with a note about school holidays. I was perplexed, didn’t school just start? Then panic sunk in as I saw the dates – 6 weeks on, 2 weeks off… Liberté, fraternité, egalité, yes, but not without a lot of congé. I would have to learn to manage school holidays by the Toussaint, but how? No grandparents available, no RTTs to claim. So we took the only option we had, the Centre de Loisirs. We were lucky to have this option at all, a place she could go to that is safe, structured and filled with fun daily activities. But I felt guilty when I compared myself with parents who had found alternative solutions that gave their children a real break. Thankfully Juliette plotted along ever so happily, minimising my remorse, and I reminded myself that I was doing my best. And now, rebelote, Christmas holidays are upon us… So my quest for the Holy Grail continues, the perfect balance that means nothing is ever sacrificed for something else. In the meantime, I hope the obstacles are as silly and as funny as the Monty Python version.