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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Master Traveler In The Making



Starting this month, Christopher and I are no longer walking all the way to school together. That’s a big jump, especially for me.  Our journey together now stops at the bottom of the hill leading up to the school gates.  It’s here that we say goodbye and part ways.  Gradually, my little boy is becoming more and more independent, no longer in need of big papa following close behind.

That independence also extends to the train and bus where, this past week, he rode in a carriage all by himself.  Granted it was just one stop, but still.  The following day, he rode in a separate carriage by himself again, this time for four stops.   On the bus, he’ll jump the line, just to get a front seat, leaving me to sit in the back.  Halfway through the ride, he’ll turn around, wave and smile at me in the back.  I’ll wave back.     

There’s little doubt in my mind Christopher could easily find his way to school, all alone, no matter which way he decides to go.  And there are numerous ways to get from our home to school, up to five actually.  We often disagree on which way is quickest. He has his favorite route, I have mine.   Some routes require changing more than twice, others only once. Some require crossing major streets to connect with another bus line or S Bahn train. No matter which way we go, there’s always a five to ten minute walk involved at the end.  For an eight year old to master each of these routes is quite amazing.    And I also believe he could deal with minor disruptions too, like delays which, in Berlin, happen occasionally.   

When the grandparents come and visit next summer, we’ll let Christopher take them to his school, alone, using the way he thinks is quickest.  They’re both German so, should he become disorientated along the way, Oma and Opa will be able to ask for help.  But I don’t think that’s going to be necessary.  He’s a master traveler!   

In the coming months, I’m planning to let him travel even more on his own to school, further building his self-confidence.   By the time we depart Berlin in three years time, my goal is for Christopher to make the journey to/from school without me. 

Until then, preparations continue.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bandits On The Run



Several weeks ago, our school held its annual Fun Day festival to....well, have fun!  The event is open to everyone at school as well as the general public with lots of booths on display and even live bands!  There was a giant bouncy castle for the younger kids, art and craft booths for the slightly older ones and generous amounts of food, sodas and good ol’ German beer and wine for adults.  All proceeds from Fun Day are used to purchase additional equipment for the school, things the school itself simply cannot buy due to budget constraints. 

The Verein, the fund raising apparatus (similar to a Parents Association) of the school, announced plans to purchase more bike racks from the money raised at this year’s event, giving those children who ride bicycles to school, extra spaces to park them.  Currently, there aren’t enough spaces to go around.   It really is incredible to see how many kids actually ride their bikes to school each day.  The purchase of new bikes racks will certainly help.

Sadly, this year’s Fun Day quickly turned into Sad Day when, early last week, the school announced in an email to everyone, the theft of some of that money.  Due to an active police investigation underway at the school, I won’t say anymore. 

As you would expect, lots of parents are fuming mad, and rightly so.  Wouldn’t you be upset?  How low must an individual stoop to steal money from kids?  Desperation, perhaps or, is there more to it?  I guess we’ll never know now will we?  Unfortunately, the theft of these funds has put the brakes on new bike racks.

To the individual(s) who stole this money, shame on you.  Now give it back, if you have an ounce of decency left in you.