Every month the library of our beloved Carl-Schurz-Haus hosts an English story time. Before the kids learned German, these story times were huge. Going to programs at the Carl-Schurz-Haus and our Anglican church made us all feel normal. We didn’t have to work hard to figure out what was going on.
Today was our last story time for the year. After countless visits, the kids are very comfortable here. This afternoon Neddy happily volunteered to sing Peas Porridge Hot with Shawn. As you can see, he had a very good time.
Children living in Germany attend highly subsidized play-based nursery schools called kindergartens. They’re for kids ages 3-6. After a child turns six, they finish up the year in kindergarten and the following September, go to first grade in a grundschule.
Tonight the six year-olds at the twins’ kindergarten were officially promoted. The children sang songs and put on a little play in Johanneskirche, the neighborhood cathedral. At the end of the program, the six year-olds walked through a colorful chuppah-esque creation into a sea of blown bubbles, wearing their brand new backpacks for first grade. The kids were so proud, and their parents were crying.
Today was probably the greatest day of the twins’ lives.
Ever since the Easter holidays, their kindergarten has been training for the World Cup. The kids were divided into teams named after soccer-obsessed countries. Both Lee and Ned were on Little Germany.
On training days, they’d come home bursting with statistics:
“We played Little Brazil and won. I scored five times. Neddy had two assists.”
We didn’t know how accurate these reports were, but we knew It was serious business.
The teachers sent an announcement that July 19 was the big day. Kindergarten Sankt Raphael’s team would play other neighborhood kindergartens in a soccer tournament. We were supposed to bring in white shirts for their uniforms and get them to school promptly at 8:30.
Errol told me that the twins were obviously nervous at breakfast.
The weather was beautiful, and the students of Sankt Raphael played well. It was particularly impressive when they came back in game 2 after trailing 3-0. It might be worth mentioning a couple Lord boys were brought in at half…
Kindergarten Sankt Raphael was victorious and brought home the trophy.
Lee and Ned were so, so happy and proud.
Errol has done a lot of hiking this year and reports he works out a lot of philosophy up there in the forest. I think this is great--so much better for his body and mind than sitting in front of a screen.
Today I was invited on his hike, and we explored nearby Lorettoberg for the first time. It was very exciting when we stumbled upon a cornfield!
Errol took a lot of pictures with his fancy camera but hasn’t uploaded them yet.
All six of us were at the pool tonight. Errol went home first. I was planning on taking the crew soon after, but Thom and Vinnie were being so slow getting out. I just decided to leave them. It wasn't a disciplinary measure, and I wasn't upset. I wanted to get the twins supper, and the bigs were slowing that down. I told them not to be too long--it's a school night.
As I unlocked Vinnie's bike from mine, I reflected that I needed to get out of this habit. In the US, Vinnie especially is thought to be too young to be out unsupervised. Many would think Thom too.
Independence of elementary-aged children is one of my favorite parts of German culture. I will miss it a lot, and I know Thom and Vinnie will too.
We can’t sugarcoat it. The kids will have a very short summer this year. German schools are still in session. I had Thom and Vinnie ride their bikes from the tram stop and meet the twins and me at the pool. If a kid has to do homework in the middle of July, this seems like a nice place to do it.
The World Cup ended today, and we watched the final at my favorite spot for footie on the telly, Lorettobad. Lee was the only one rooting for France, but no one seemed to be that bothered when Croatia lost. I was more troubled by the rain that began around the 60th minute. It is helpful to be wearing a swimsuit when it starts to pour.
I love the atmosphere at Lorettobad. The audience is engaged but respectful. The concession stand always has daily wurst specials and long lines of kids wait for popsicles and adults for their beer. The water is too cold for my taste, but I sure love reading on the lawn.
This afternoon was the Anglican Church of Freiburg’s Summer Fete. We had a grand time. I was very excited about the Pimm’s, and Thom gobbled up his Nigerian meat pie. He ate is so fast I didn’t get a picture. Chances are we won’t have as many opportunities to eat West African food when we’re home in suburban New Jersey.
This evening I found myself sitting on a church sanctuary floor. We were at Freikirche der Siebenten-Tags-Adventisten to hear Thom and some of the older kids in Oberlin play their composition from music class in a Musik & Poesie concert. Maybe not so strangely, I felt very comfortable on the floor. As a kid, my favorite place to “listen” to the sermon was lying on the thick red and black carpet of our church’s sanctuary. It was fun tonight to look at the foreign hymnals and Bibles, and I was pleased to see the feminine article is used for Bible.
Yesterday (fingers crossed) I made the final trip to the Freiburg pediatric dentist. Vinnie had a successful check-up.
Whenever I interact with the receptionist, I get uneasy. She speaks English, but she doesn’t like having to. We do okay in German until she goes off script, and then I lose her.
I’m always eager to leave the office. When she offers a time and day for the next appointment, I usually just take it no matter what. So, sometime in the winter, she asked if July 11 at 13:20 worked, and I agreed.
Vinnie and Thom’s school day ends at one, and it takes a good 30 minutes door to door from their school to the dentist. I felt less bad about having to take Vin out of school when I found out that on Wednesdays, English is her last class.
I walked into Oberlin and while I waited for Vinnie to gather her things, I noticed this happy fish on the wall. My sweet Thom made a fish with a smile.