22 September 2008

What we did on Wednesday: Or, why Mothers weep on the first day of school.

We went to an interview at one of the bi-lingual schools here in Berlin.

It's a very nice school and the headmistress/principal was very nice. She took time out of her day to talk to us and show us around even though there will be an Open Door very soon, because we won't be in Berlin when that occurs. This is one of three schools that we will be looking at- another in two weeks and then the third after that: but this was the first.

As we walked around, looking at all the rooms and how big the furniture is, looking at the size of those enormous rucksacks that German schoolchildren wear and then watching the seething mass of children (up to the age of 12!) running around during one of the break periods I started to be very sad: this is the end of Thing1's childhood, in a way.

I was so intrigued watching KSKlein  put together her daughter's Schultuete and I think it's a wonderful German tradition. Here is a template that I may need to look at in 10 months, as I have absolutely no artistic ability but I think it's a wonderful thing to create this and not to simply buy it: I was awed by KSKlein's and her daughter looked so happy!

I understand why the Schultuete is a tradition ( to sweeten the passage drom childhood to a higher level and the first step into "adulthood". I wonder whether it has a connection to the Jewish tradition that when children are first taught their letters, the letters are outlined with honey so that as the child traces them (on a slate, in the past) the child then tastes the sweetness and knows that: Learning (especially the Torah) is sweet.

But, oh my goodness, what a different world first grade is here in Germany. At home, where kindergarten and the primary grades (through 5th) all generally reside in an Elementary school, it doesn't seem as abrupt a break as it does here, where grades are 1-6 and all the children take recess at the same time, making one thin of zoos and seething hordes of wild beasts and wonder how one's small and tiny child will survive the frothing maelstrom....

I am so glad I have another year of quiet and calm and control!

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