Thursday, 13 January 2011

Germans shoot from the hip

My mind is still pounding away thinking about Hamish and his unhappiness at Kita. This morning was hellish again, with him screaming "I don't want to go to school" all the way from the front door to the U-Bahn, with a brief respite for train happiness, then back to the screaming at the other end.

I spoke to one of his 'teachers' today and they said that things are a little better, and he is a little happier. I don't know about you though, but I NEVER trust the things that nursery workers say. I base this on my first experiences with Orla's nursery in Derby, when I would ask, "How was she today?" and they'd always say "Yeah, she was great. She ate all her lunch, blah, blah, blah". I could always stop listening after that point because I knew that it was all made up. The only way Orla would eat all her lunch is if they were only feeding her cake soup, followed by cake, with a little cake for afters. I've always found that I just get an "everything was fine" response.

Why do we do that? Why when asked how things are, or how we are, do we always say "fine"? Ok, so maybe we don't want to always be moaning "Ah, well actually, my piles are giving me gip. Do you want a look?".

In Germany though I find things a bit different. This afternoon we got back into our building and met one of neighbours who lives a couple of floors down from us. She asked how things were going, and I told her things weren't going that brilliantly for Hamish at the moment. She asked what was going on and I told her and said "You've probably heard him screaming from the lift in the morning!". And she said "Yes, I've heard him in the mornings.". In Britain I reckon most times your neighbours would say "Oh no, no, no, I haven't heard him" even when they have because it's unavoidable, but here they just tell you in a nice straightforward manner. The same if you are making too much noise, playing your music too loud, or not doing your recycling right, they just tell you. There's none of this keeping quiet and having a good moan behind closed doors and then if the subject comes up pretending they know nothing.

So maybe things are going a little better for Hamish. They think he's having problems with the language, and that he doesn't like it when he doesn't understand when they are giving instructions to the whole group and he doesn't know what to do. I understand that, but I'm not sure what I can do about it. They think it'll improve in a few months when his language skills get better, but a few months is a very long time in an unhappy toddlers world. I am going to find me some books...or maybe an English speaking Kita.


  1. If you aren't going to be here for years, perhaps an English speaking kita is the answer... at our first kita, the workers realized after about 8 months that my little one was always happy- they had only seen her unhappy. And I didn't know because I wasn't there:(. Otoh, she was just glum, not screaming. And several of them could speak a bit of English to her. Not much, though.
    I've moved to the "change schools if you are unhappy" camp, though, after first forcing a class switch for one child and then a school switch for the other and being extremely happy after much stressing with both decisions.
    Btw, my kids love school and we still have screaming in the morning: one is not a morning child and the other is angry that the former may make her late. I don't ask my neighbors if they hear it!.

  2. One of the first things my German teacher told us last year was that we should only ask a German how they are if we want to know the answer because they don't use it as a "hello" substitute - unlike the English who will reply "good thanks" even if their dog died that morning, their leg was going to be amputated that afternoon and their husband just ran off with the postman - Germans will give you an honest reply warts and all. Hamish probably was a little happier, if not completely happy to be there.

  3. Sorry I have no helpful advice but maybe a virtual hug would help?
    I'm sure Hamish will settle in more quickly than you think and he will grasp the language soon.
    Hang on in there. x


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