So we’re back “home” after a summer “at home”. As F told me yesterday, she has 4 homes now: one is her apartment in America, another her school (“It’s like one big family, Mummy!”), one in England, and one in Germany. Not bad for a 5-year old!
She is very happy at her new school, finally, finally a big girl who gets homework and is all grown up. But it is a different school to her sister’s, which has pros and cons. A definite pro, and the reason why she is at a different school, is that their “Kindergarten” is all day (6 hours) as opposed to just 3 hours, which all the other schools in the district offer. Another advantage is that she can be totally her own person – there are no comparisons with her older sister, which I guess is quite nice for her (I remember my sister hating being compared to me, and vice versa, so I guess it’s a plus!). But: in addition to the increased car journeys, I now also have twice the amount of school and PTA fundraisers and activities to deal with! Two lots of PTAs trying to get me to sign my life away….. Luckily for me, this set-up provides me with the perfect excuse not to volunteer too much. After all, I can always blame it on having to do activities at “the other school”….
I do like the whole volunteering concept though, not obsessively, but enough to get to know the children and teachers and to see how school life in this country takes place. Such a learning curve for me, and it’s quite exciting to experience it right from the start, with a child in Kindergarten. Last week, for example, I witnessed my first “flag salute”, which takes place every Friday morning. Most schools have their own way of doing it, maybe once a month, or more often, but F’s school has it every week. Not knowing what to expect, I turned up and watched (not sure whether to laugh or cry) how my sweet English-German baby girl stood proudly with her schoolmates, and placed her, er, left hand on her heart and pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States. Bless her… well, she is left-handed, so I guess that was to be expected. And after the pledge the principal got up on stage in front of everybody and demanded a bit “grrrrrrr” (I should probably explain that our school mascot is a grizzly bear). Yes, everybody (parents, kids, teachers) growled and did the clawing hand movement. Fantastic! After sufficient growling, the star students (pupils, of course) from each class got nominated and climbed the stage to accept their certificates and pose for a photo. And then everybody joined in with the principal, as she sang and acted out “head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes…” before wishing everybody a great day and dispatching the kids off to their classrooms. I was very impressed. Growling, a few morning stretches, lots of positive attitude and cheering – what more do you need on a Friday morning?! I can’t wait to do it all again tomorrow morning.

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