Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Stammtisch*

Last night I forced myself out of my very comfy zone and met up with other parents and Ben's class teacher for drinks and in theory something to eat (I say in theory because I assumed that as we were meeting in a place that is more a restaurant than a bar and that the place it'd previously been arranged for was a definite restaurant then we would be eating) as it was, only 3 of us from 10 actually ate (rather nice tapas, although it's a good job Si's away (again, I know) as I probably have garlic oozing out of every pore).
The table was booked for 8pm, I pretty much flew out of the house, convinced that I was going to be late, needn't have worried. I arrived punktlich at 8, expecting to find a large, loud table awaiting me, with me having to squeeze into a space, but no, lots of tables occupied by couples instead...had I got the right place? The right day? I cornered a waitress and asked and she pointed me to the table reserved for the tardy parents and said she'd be straight over.

5 minutes later they started arriving, fortunately the first was a mom I know well, Ingrid, as Paul and Ben are firm friends and Paul came to Cornwall with us last October.

The evening, much as I had dreaded it, was OK. Not a barrel of laughs the way expats night or bookgroup or Wednesday's comedy night at Lulu's are, but OK. I think it was helped by the fact that the group wasn't so big as to be intimidating (for a grown up I do find large groups of people I don't know quite scary) but it was more than just people I know.

I've been tasked with something that none of the others can do - try to find schools in England that study German (I did warn them that schools these days prefer to learn trendy (and possibly more useful - although I was tactful (hadn't had any wine) and didn't mention that fact) languages like Spanish and French rather than German as I did, many moons ago) and are in need of exchange schools. So I shall be emailing English friends later today on that mission.

I learnt that in a years time my son will be going on a school trip to England (Herne Bay/Canterbury/Hastings and London) where they stay with host families. I do pity the family that gets Ben, they'll have been so looking forward to getting someone they can try out their wonky German on, and whose English they can improve, all those expectations will be dashed the moment he opens his mouth and greets them with his Midlands accent.

There was also a discussion as to what subjects the children have to take at Abitur level (this is the final school exam that gets you into Uni - dependant on how good you are of course) the decision for which, for our kids, is in 3-4 years time, so I tuned that conversation out (especially as it was at the other end of the table and I had to strain to hear the response from the teacher, although not from the father who had the query, he had a loud voice).

Then there was the amusing conversation about whether in the 3 years of being their class teacher Frau Nierhaus has noticed any 'relationships' spring up, she said no, to which we laughed, as Ben and Paul certainly seem to have no idea what use girls can ever be, although Frau N was quick to point out that Ben seems to get on well with the girls, enjoying teasing them and so on...

I got home shortly after 10, to find Ben just going to bed (with no first lesson today I had said he could stay up till then) and he then demanded to know exactly what had been talked about and who had been there (a point on which I'm sure I was annoyingly vague as I barely know the names of the kids in the class, let alone who their parents are...).

So, first Stammtisch done, got no excuse not to go the the next one now, unless of course I'm washing my hair or cleaning the shower or defrosting the freezer!

* word for the day; der Stammtisch = regulars' table

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