These Things Can Only Happen Here

When I went to the gym today, it occurred to me that I’ve had a few extra things to smile about lately because of Germany. It all started with a “Don’t Hassle the Hoff” t-shirt I spotted on another woman who was working out. Although he still has some devoted fans here, most Germans roll their eyes if asked about their country’s brief fling with David Hasselhoff around the time the Berlin Wall came down. Now I don’t want to pile on the mean remarks about him because he actually seems to be a good sport about his public persona. And, I’m not going to run out and buy the t-shirt but, Hoff, here’s a salute to your enduring fame, prost!

My thoughts then wandered to a something that had to be seen to be believed. When I picked up Jack from his Kindergarten the other day I saw two boys in one of the playrooms, busily working with a saw, and sledge hammer with nails. No, not toys, the real thing all scaled down to child-size. Mind you, German Kindergarten is from age 3-6. These 3 and 4 year old boys looked like Santa’s busiest elves as they sawed wood and pounded nails into it. No adult was nervously hovering over their work or offering advice. In fact, the teacher was on the other side of the room, working on a craft project. To Germans, this is nothing unusual but in America this is unbelievable that dangerous tools would be in a classroom. Rather than being alarmed by it, I actually think it’s great they let kids do interesting things and parents aren’t threatening lawsuits. It was also nice to see that all their little fingers weren’t sawed off.

Speaking of the Kindergarten, it’s old news that Jack is fluent in German. He corrects my German often. But, he is also speaking quite a bit of Korean and, now also Italian. This is because two of his best friends arrived from their home countries without a word of German in their heads, much like Jack when he started Kindergarten. So, he takes it upon himself to show the new kids the ropes. In return, my little Renaissance man is learning their languages and shouting things like “molto bene” from the bathtub. It’s hard to keep up with him though and I’m pretty sure the lessons begin with “let’s play” and move along to identifying all the terms for the butt.

And that is a perfect segue to a current issue I have at the Kindergarten. One morning at drop-off, I felt a smack on my rear end. I turned to see the culprit who is one of Jack’s buddies. We all got a good laugh at it. Then another morning, I felt it again. I turned around and it was the same little imp laughing and pointing at me. Amusing. But, since then, he’s done it at least a dozen more times. Now I just want revenge. But, it’s actually quite difficult to think of creative yet harmless payback to a 5-year-old. If you think of something, let me know.

Food has been another delight, living here in Germany. No, I’m not a big fan of schnitzel and spätzle. It’s other specialties from the Expat community that now seem commonplace, such as, every school party has homemade sushi. It all looks very professional and tastes amazing. I also look forward to things like homemade anzac cookies from the Australians. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for one of my favorite foods, peanut butter. Several of Nora’s friends from other countries have asked to try it at our house. The taste-testing usually goes like this: excitement, take a bite, surprise, revulsion, then I pass a napkin over and they spit it out.


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