A pet peeve of us expats (or the mothers at least) is the German concept of 'duty of care' with regard to schooling.
The children wander to school alone, wander around the school grounds alone (fine for older kids but 6 year olds fresh out of kindergarten?) manage to come home themselves if they so choose, missing lessons if they want and no-one seems to bat an eyelid.
One day last week Ben (12 but with the attitude of a teen) turned up just after 11am when he should have been in school until 2.10pm, this was because their physics teacher was ill so instead of physics they had English and then as he doesn't do religion he came straight home (friend in tow who had been unable to get hold of his own mother - not surprising really seeing as they were more than 2 hours early) No warning, nothing. They just send the kids home, no relief teachers, just a gap in the timetable and in their education.
So imagine my surprise yesterday when I had a call from Ben asking if he was allowed to walk home from the station...they'd been to the next village along for 6 or so hours of a reading out loud competition (yawn, the Germans seem to prize highly the skills of reading out loud and copying out texts) I'd been expecting him home around 3pm and at 3 he rang;
'mom, is it ok for me to walk home from the station?'
'well, can you tell my teacher then please'
and I was handed over to Frau Nierhaus who explained that it was procedure....
How come just a week ago they were happy to let my child wander home to a possibly empty house that he doesn't have a key for and yet this week they have to ring and check that it's ok for him to walk home from the station instead of walking back to school and then home from school.
They're bonkers these Germans, utterly bonkers!