Friday, March 13, 2009
Onto the homework.The notebook came out, as did the spelling list. Word number one: “Füller“. Capitalization was forgotten, as was one of the l’s. He happily killed his mistake, but forgot to use the other end of the killer pen and tried to write over the blank spot with the Füller. It didn’t work. He switched back to the killer. Both ends of the killer were now open, and one of the tops had fallen onto to floor- (swallowed up by the same monster that takes all the hair bands, socks, and puzzle pieces) - never to be seen again. Next spelling word, next mistake. Switch pens, back and forth, back and forth. Now there was a new problem. The killer wasn’t quite dry. Let me take this opportunity to share with you one of my favorite rules in life: Less Is More. In mascara, in garlic, and in killer pens. If you don’t let the killer dry completely you can’t write over it. Also, when killing a word, it takes a few seconds for it to disappear. Newbie’s don’t know this and scrub at the word on their paper. Then they try to write over it using a sharp fountain pen, then again with the killer marker. (yes, it’s a marker, not a pen as I kept writing. And isn’t a marker also in the category of things you SHOULDN’T give to a six-year old?) Anyway, what happened next was a damp, messy hole in the paper. By now it has taken him forty minutes to write six words. Frustration has set in and he has begun to cry. I couldn’t just rip the page out because they aren’t perforated. That, and there are only 16 pages in the notebook to begin with. (See previous Blog). I desperately try to calm him down and find a solution. I Offered to cut a piece of paper to patch the hole. It was useless. He was so overwhelmed from getting homework to begin with at age six, having a teacher that expects perfection, and the pressure of having a “dictation test” the next day, that nothing I said helped. EXCEPT… offering to by a new notebook. So it was back to Toto-Lotto. I bought three new notebooks and another killer. Home again, home again jiggity jig to start the whole thing over again.Eventually he got the hang of it, and soggy holes became a thing of the past. Inky hands, however, NEVER become a thing of the past. The fascination of checking the ink level, or taking the stupid pen apart just for the heck of it never wears off. One of my favorite tricks with the pen is to shake it. Like you would shake an old-fashioned fever thermometer, or a normal Bic pen. This causes the ink to fly out of the tip at an amazing speed and splatter everything within a six-meter radius. A good fight between siblings is a sure-fire way to get ink on the walls and possibly the ceiling. One of them grabs the other’s pen, and a fight breaks out. The owner of the Pen tries to grab the pen back, causing the other to whip it out of their reach in an arc like movement up and over his head. Up and over, left to right, back and forth. And while they do this, they run. Yes, one is running with the pointy pen, waving it wildly and laughing like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. The other is screaming hysterically like Jack’s wife Wendy.“Gib mir mein Füller du Arschloch!”And where is mom while all this is going on? She is sitting on the floor in the ink splattered living room talking through her right index finger, “REDRUM, REDRUM…” Sorry, back to reality. Oh wait, that was reality.I believe this is a good time to end this blog. And Remember, Tintenkiller is your friend.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The whole “Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne” was a mystery to me here in Germany. Why would you spend seventy-eight hours crafting something out of highly flammable material, stick a LIT candle in it, put it on a long stick so it convulses back and forth when waddling down the street, and then give it to a three year old to carry? Honestly, how long before your child’s lantern catches fire and he or she breaks out in tears? My first lantern crashed and burned within ten minutes. I'm sure it didn't help that I used to be arts and crafts impaired. A bastel virgin, if you will. The closest I got to arts and crafts growing up was pressing Silly Putty onto Nancy and Sluggo in the Sunday Funnies. But years of fun-filled afternoon arts and crafts projects with other mommies in Kindergarten has nurtured my artistic abilities. I have blossomed into a semi-professional "basteler" (That's German lingo for a really crafty crafter.)
There IS a reason for the frenzy of arts and crafts madness here. Cutting with tiny safety scissors year after grueling year in Kindergarten is to prepare you for the mother of all cut and glue projects in Germany. The design and construction of the first day of school cone, The Schultute. You can buy them in the store here. However, any German mother would gasp at the thought. Why, that just screams Auslander! Have you not humiliated yourself and your child enough these past four years in Kindergarten? What with the pleather Spongebob slippers, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Enough is enough. Make the kid a cone for cryin’ out loud. How hard can it be?
Oh those famous last words. It involves cutting things out of cardboard, paper and moosgummi. I’m not sure what moosgummi is, but it is a must have in the world of arts and crafts. When you are finished, you will have a three-foot long cone. Decorated with the most complicated design your six year old could think of. It is glued, taped, and stapled. One of mine even involved a shoelace.
And what, pray tell, was I supposed to put into the ridiculously gigantic cone shaped “schultute” ? Was I supposed to FILL it to the brim? He could barely carry the thing empty, and I was supposed to fill it with - well I didn’t really know what I was supposed to fill it with. I knew he had to parade through town with it, so I was thinking something light like… marshmallows. Marshmallows seemed like a brilliant solution. They’re light, airy, and they take up a lot of space. So that’s what I did. I filled my child’s Schultute with white fluffy marshmallows.
If you think the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches went over big in Kindi, you should have seen the looks I got about the two hundred and fifty six marshmallows. While other kids pulled out new boxes of crayons and pencils from their first day of school cone, my kid happily mummfed on his marshmallows. NO ONE told me I could stuff the thing with newspaper and just put a few things on top. I figured that would be cheating, not to mention disappointing. Like Charlie Brown always getting a rock in his trick or treat bag. "What did you get Alex?" "I got a pencil, an eraser, and a bunch of crumpled up newspaper. Scheisse." I think Marshmallows beats that any day.
Poor Alex. As first born, he has had to endure being my guinea pig. He will no doubt be scarred for life. Most parents start a collage fund for their children. We have started a therapy fund Alex. He's probably going to need it.