There were some stupid questions asked the other night at the elternabend*.
This was the first meeting of the year, the year 4 moms (because it is pretty much only moms that go to these terminally dull events) setting eyes on the year 3 moms after a year apart**. I'd never met the year 3 moms before, whereas Rebecca had, she warned me before that they were a 'tricky lot' and afterwards she turned to me gleefully, pleased not to have been let down by the performance we'd witnessed.
The first issue was the election of the parent/teacher representative, the year 4's were sitting smug as our previous rep was 'happy' to continue. That left the year 3's. I have never seen a group of adults act in such a manner, they did everything but sit on their hands and stare at the ceiling, Herr B (teacher) sat back and prepared to wait it out, he wasn't moving on until this had been settled, we could have been there all night (it almost felt like we were) eventually one mom was talked into it, despite her protests about lack of time because her husband was changing jobs or something...Rebecca and I laughed later that one of us should have volunteered (except for the fact that we're not year 3 moms) it would have been worth it to see them trying to talk us out of it, there's no way they'd trust our German to be up to representing them with the teachers and taking down the minutes of every elternabend.
We moved onto discuss the upcoming trip to Langeoog and things started to get silly.
Question: what size suitcase can my child take? Clearly whatever is big enough to hold all their stuff.Question: how much pocket money should each child have? 5 euro was agreed upon (afterall the more they have, the more tat they will return with) but 1 mother wanted to send more because her darling would want to write at least 10 (ten!) postcards to family and not just the one that was planned. This was shot down and the mother was told that if the child was to write that many then she should take them with her, the mother didn't like that AT ALL.
Question: will there be anything for the children to drink between meals? Duh!
Question: can my child (be the only one to) take his bodyboard and wetsuit to use on the beach? Expected this to be shot down in flames also but this mother's stock is clearly much higher with Herr B as this is being permitted, a decision I can see being regretted.
Question: my child doesn't like fizzy water (which the Germans choose to drink) can there be a jug of tap water available for him or shall I send a six pack of Evian?
Question: how high (up the leg) should the wellies be?
Question: what is in the bedrooms besides the beds?
After the almost endless mithering about the 6 day trip we moved onto the subject of Klassenkasse. The first year we were here I remember being shocked at being asked to pay for stuff for the children to use in lessons. In English schools you send your child to school with a pretty much empty bag (certainly in primary school, where even pencils and crayons are provided) so to get a list (a complete side of A4) telling you all the things your child must have in their school bag and then be asked for cash for photocopying and such like - it was a shock. One I'm over now, Klassenkasse is a necessary evil so I listen to what I need to pay and pay up. But one of the year 3 moms (who is German and so doesn't even have the excuse of being foreign ) was shocked and complained that they'd only just last term paid 20 euro.
We escaped only after 2 and a quarter painful hours, the seats in year 3/4 might not be as diminutive as those in year 1/2 but they have they same numbing effect!
* see last weeks 'London is not Essen' for a definition of elternabend.
** our school mixes year groups so that 1&2 share a teacher for a year, then the year 2's go up into year 3 to a new teacher and a new mixed class with year 4's. There's open debate here as to whether this mixed year group thing works, but in comparison to the other system here, where a class stays with a teacher for their whole 4 years of primary school, I prefer the mixed years and 2 teachers option.