At times it felt like this day was never going to arrive: Thom and Vinnie’s last day of school.
They went to school dressed in their costumes for Oberlin’s production of Cats. Thom was McCavity the street cat and Vinnie a dancing mouse. Errol and I rode our bikes later in the morning to watch the show. The kids did a great job.
Thom participated in the graduation ceremony. Every fourth grader received a little diploma, gift, and the teacher made a speech about each child. At the end of the ceremony, Vinnie’s teacher brought her on stage and did the same for her since she was also leaving the school. It was very thoughtful.
Thom’s friend came with him following the festivities for more birthday celebrations. It was fun to hear Thom and Vinnie speak German all afternoon.
Thom spent his birthday in a very unusual way for an American kid born at the end of July: in school.
I made RIce Krispie treats for the occasion, and Thom shared them with the whole school. Everyone was together rehearsing for their end of year show.
We searched several grocery stores but were unable to find plain Rice Krispies. We took a risk and bought the chocolate flavored ones. There were no complaints.
After school, I took Thom and Vinnie to the Holy Taco Shack for some delicious street food and a root beer float. A gift-opening session followed by a visit to the Schlossberg Biergarten with our Virginian pals wrapped up a very lovely 11th birthday. We're happy this guy was born.
After church yesterday we caravanned to our neighborhood firehouse for another Sommerfest. We just can’t get enough of these. Cheap drinks, live music, delicious food, atmosphere, and facepaint. This one took it a step further and had a bounce house and a merry-go-round.
Last night the bigs and I went on a date to see the Mamma Mia! sequel.
Thom was obsessed with the original Mamma Mia from ages 2-5 and had Mamma Mia cakes for his fourth and sixth birthdays. It was his first Broadway show, and I’ve found his love for this musical to be especially endearing.
Vinnie saw the movie for the first time this winter, and I’d hoped she'd get to see the show in London this spring. Sadly, that didn’t work out, but she was still aptly prepared for the new installment.
We all liked the new movie, but I cried numerous times. Thom commented on our bike ride home that he thought Coco (the other movie we saw in the theater this year) was much sadder and warranted tears more than this movie. Touché, Thom.
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.