Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Timing is... everything

I've had a 'What am I doing here?' morning. Sometimes something will happen and I'll just suddenly find myself wondering why on earth I am bothering to put myself though this. Of course I know the answer, it's not the obvious question I'm asking myself.

This morning we arrived at Kita and had just gone to wait for the lift, when another little boy arrived with his grandmother. There were other parents and kids there too, but this little boy came up to Hamish and hit him. And I just couldn't think of what to say in German straight away, and then the moment passed and by the time I had formulated the words in my head it felt like it was too late.

The grandmother had already had a talk to the little boy, but I felt like there should have been an apology to Hamish at least. I wanted to say "Hold on a minute!", and I could have said "Woah! Ein Minuten bitte!" but all I could think of was 'I don't know the verb for 'to hold' and that got in the way of thinking of simpler alternatives. I felt so frustrated and angry with myself, and it left me feeling totally downhearted for the rest of the morning.

I hate not being able to express myself properly, and instead of saying what I want to say, constantly having to think of simpler ways of expressing myself. But to be honest I haven't really had any moments before this where I've really needed to say something and the timing has mattered. That seems to be the thing that has left me feeling most frustrated and wishing I was just back 'home' telling random people exactly what I thought of them.

Except I don't really do that. In fact after being sat in German class I spoke to Stevie and told him how I was feeling and he said "But did you tell Hamish just to hit him back?". Well, apart from the fact that I don't want my kids hitting other kids, it did cross my mind, but I thought to myself "Crap, I can't even say that because I bet one of these other parents speaks English and they'll know what I'm saying and then I'll seem like the bad mummy". So I stayed frustrated with my muteness.

Well I did until I got upstairs, and then in front of this grandmother I told Hamish's teacher that this boy had hit him and pointed at the culprit and asked if they could keep an eye on things as I wouldn't like to think that this might be another reason why Hamish is hating Kita. But even that didn't shake my gloom, and normally being really obvious like that would cancel out my earlier frustration and amuse me back into a normal state of happiness.

My German is annoying me at the moment. I know the more I do and the longer I stay on the course, the better my German will get and the better equipped I'll be to respond to people the way I want. But at the same time I am feeling like I don't have enough time to properly go over what I have learnt and as new stuff goes in, some of the old stuff is just leaking straight back out again. After this morning and thinking, 'I should be able to deal with a situation like that: I've been learning German for 14 weeks!' I can't help but think 'What is the point?'. But it could also be that we've just been doing endless grammar and I'm feeling my vocabulary isn't getting any better. Who knows. I'm booked on until April. So I have time to decide if I want to go further at that point or whether I want to have a break from it for a bit.


  1. I think you should embrace your ability to speak and not care how well you speak or whether you don't have the perfect word. Sometimes I am amazed at how little German I can speak and yet I can always make myself understood.
    That boy would have understood you and so would his grandmother. Sometimes saying something is better than saying something perfectly, although I also sometimes fall into the tongue tied space of needing the right word and not having it: lately I've just started to go with the flow. And the situation you describe— it could have happened to me in English, as well.
    At least you spoke to the teacher, so the situation was dealt with. In our kita, they would have made the little boy shake Hamish's hand and do that whole"Enschuldigung" thing, though.

  2. Oh gawd I sympathise with you totally about the language: I am feeling REALLY wound up about my German at the moment (probably karma from showing off about managing to talk to people last week). I am SO frustrated with not being able to express myself properly and how inflexible the ruddy language can be, and though I totally agree with G in Berlin that it's amazing how it's possible to get a point across... I just really want to be able to do it in whole coherent sentences, and not ten minutes after I wanted to!! So, well, you are not alone, and good work going and doing something about the situation afterwards... I'd have probably crept home and eaten a kilo of chocolate. The Lindt one with the salt flakes in.

  3. I know, I know, I thought about just coming out with some garbled nonsense, but there were 2 other parents there and I really didn't want an audience to me sounding like an idiot.

    To top it off this afternoon I took them to an indoor Spielplatz and the waiter told me it would "be better if I put my pram in the garage", and that he would take it there for me. I tentatively agreed, but as I had only just started getting the kids coats and boots off he ended up taking it with their coats in the front seat. I did then notice that nobody else was being asked to take their pushchairs etc (some bigger than my Phil & Ted's) to the garage. So after I paid I asked where it was and for some reason I had thought that it was in a room behind the kitchen, so I was surprised when the guy came from outside with my pram. As it was raining this afternoon both it and the kids coats were wet and I was absolutely raging. But once again, before I could get the words out he'd gone back inside!

    God, I need to study some key phrases!

    Oh, and Lindt with salt flakes? I might have to try that.

    On the upside today wasn't all bad; I've just spent half an hour 'fishing' little bits of soft poo out of the bath, so at least it has ended on a highnote. I'm off now to boil my right hand in bleach...

  4. Hi Fiona, I found your blog through Fr. Dietz and am loving it. I'm so sorry how frustrating it can be. My worst times here have been when it came to my kid and my inability to formulate what I want to say.

    Because it's so hard to come up with something off the cuff in a 2nd language. I decided that I would always speak English to my son when something bad happens. This way he knows that I saw it/acknowledge it. I do a lot of, "you're right buddy, that wasn't nice. Too bad he didn't say he was sorry." Or sometimes I even do the, "wow that stinks. We can't control how other people behave. That must have felt really bad to get hurt/hit/tripped/pushed, etc"

    Then I figure if the other parties understand English I haven't said anything bad!

    Your pram story in the comments is worse. I want to find the waiter and put his jacket out in the rain. What was he thinking???

    Greetings from ochsenfurt,


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