In April my son's bilingual class is off on a trip to England for a week to help with their language acquisition...some parents assumed that Ben wouldn't go, after all he speaks the language perfectly already and therefore doesn't the help, but why should he miss out on what will be a fun bonding experience?
There was a second meeting last night to further explain the timetable and the people involved and to answer people's questions. It took two hours, by the end of which my left leg had gone to sleep. The trip isn't till the end of April, and I'm sure there'll be another meeting before then, because England is a foreign country and you do have to take a passport to "get in". This fact has been raised before and it really bugs me. The teacher's words were something along the lines of* "a valid passport is essential because the British are very strict about this" - to which I called out (without first raising my hand, probably got a black mark against my name for that) "that's because they're not Schengen" (I can quite understand the UK's point of view, as an island nation, used to being able to repel all invaders,as they crossed into the country, staggering up the beaches all wet and salty. Why should they suddenly trust others to check people credentials and yes, it is a ball ache to wait in a queue at passport/border control, but get over it).
There was quite a debate about the four 18 year olds who are going along with the two teachers to help with the 33 kids (all under 14), we, as parents are asked to contribute towards half of their costs, 20euro per parent couple - it had to be worded like that because as one mother pointed out she has twins in the class and doesn't want to have to pay twice for the 18year olds (although thinking about it, if she has two kids in the class, going on the trip, then they both need to be supported/accompanied so therefore shouldn't she pay twice? I'm not about to tell her that to her face (although a German would) because she's bigger than me & frequently gives my son a lift home from school**).
Smoking and drinking will be forbidden on the trip (well, good - they are all only 14 after all) even the 18 year olds are only allowed to indulge when they are not with the minors. One mom was concerned that her child might end up in a house with smokers, was there a chance to ensure this didn't happen, she asked? I had to bite my tongue not to call out that in my opinion there are far more smokers here in Germany than in England. I left it for one of the two teachers (that'd be the one that doesn't smoke) to comment that they hadn't that problem before and that no-one would have been smoking in the bedrooms where the children sleep.
It was suggested that the children all take a small gift for the guest family they will be staying with, but the question was what? Liver sausage was suggested (I'm hoping this was a joke, can you imagine receiving a package of stinky liver sausage that has been in a child's rucksack for 12 hours?) Haribo was also a suggestion, which is OK as long as the child concerned isn't lodging with an OAP couple, a family with kids maybe would appreciate gummy sweets but the older generation? Unlikely. Another suggestion was wine (and this from the teacher) I would rather not entrust a highly breakable glass bottle to a teenager who is as likely to fling his bag onto the coach as to use it as a seat. I suggested chocolate, everyone appreciates chocolate and there is loads of German chocolate from the huge variety of "Ritter" bars (that my parents covet) to hand made chocolate shops on every self respecting street.
The teacher organising the trip wants everyone to take bathing towels, because they're going to the seaside (in April) and there's the possibility that they meet down on the beach and go in the sea (the average temperature high for April in Margate is 12C, you wont catch my English son going anywhere near that water (which has an average temperature of 12.1C, brrrrr).
One of the other items suggested that the children take is a "worterbuch" - dictionary, I don't think Ben will need that & I can imagine Ben's friends will also think that, seeing as they'll have a walking, talking English/German dictionary with them.
I'm quite sure this is only the start of the arrangements for a trip that will take the children away for six days and doesn't occur until April 23. There is such a thing as over planning.
* loose translation going on here.
** I don't pick Ben up because the school is a 10 minute walk away, if she chooses to drive there and back twice a day in order to collect her lazy boys (they live along our road, so it's a 10 minute walk for them also) and Ben convinces her to give him a lift then fine by me.