We have these every summer and the format is usually the same.
- Meet up around 4pm for the cake "buffet" and coffee provided by the year 3's. An hour or so of tedious but essential small talk follows before we have the entertainment. One year it was a fun sports competition (I seem to recall a lot of water being involved, fortunately it was a hot summer day) last year there was a clever DVD that some parents had put together of the children and also a truly nauseating and almost sycophantic song penned by a couple of over eager moms all about the wonderfulness of the teacher**.
- After the entertainment we get the bbq fired up and then we sit down to burnt offerings and multiple salads (provided by the year 4 mom's)
- Then the children will charge about like crazed beings while the adults sit and gossip in their little cliques (aided by beer and wine) until some child persuades Herr B to get his guitar out, the fire bowl is lit and we sing songs until the stars come out/the children fall asleep/the cows come home*** (it'd be more fun if they were songs I knew, but as I wasn't a child here in Germany there's no chance of me knowing any of the words).
It can be...pleasant, will be even better when viewed from Sunday but currently I just have the prospect of it looming and the knowledge that I was foolish enough to volunteer to help...
The entertainment this year is going to consist of a quiz, which will have the kids split into four teams, and has been compiled from questionnaires we gave the children (personal questions about pets/eye colour/favourite sweets/number of languages they can speak****). Then there's a "trickfilm" made by the children (with a huge amount of work from mom G) trickfilm is a name the Germans seem to give to simple animation, made with stop/go filming, most of the kids tried it out during an art week earlier in the year with great results. This time I think they've been more adventurous and a lot of Lego has been involved! We also have a fashion show (mom U's scheme) the idea being that the children will dress up to represent the different themes they've studied during the year, we'll have a red carpet for them to walk along and the music from Germany's Next Top Model and the kids will all have to race to get from the end of the catwalk to back stage and get changed (practice tomorrow, joy) Finally there will be a song (mom R was insistent that as there was a song last year so there should be one this...at least it's the kids singing it and not us!) I gather the tune is "what shall we do with the drunken sailor" and the lyrics are all about how will they and Herr B cope apart (I think it's funny, although I haven't listened to all the words it has to be said...)
Every aspect of the entertainment has all the kids working together, quite an achievement (if it goes smoothly) but one mom (who hasn't bothered to get involved, apart from to ring each of us in turn and complain) isn't happy. Unbeknownst to all of us she's had her daughter practicing for an hour a day (apparently & who am I to call her a liar?) a piece from the film Amelie it's a beautiful piece of music but doesn't quite fit in with anything that has been organised and if she does play it (at some point) how will the other children feel who also play instruments (not to mention the other, equally pushy German parents) if one gets to play for Herr B then shouldn't all have the chance? This particular mother is a foreigner like me (and believe me, that is the only thing we have in common) and yesterday she managed to catch me on the phone to harangue (I'd been call screening, but this one slipped through) she went on and on about the Abschlussfest for some time, I had to cut her short in the end as I had to collect a child from school, but throughout the call she kept saying (in German, she says she can speak English but I have yet to hear any) "d'you understand me?" I've noticed she says that a lot and I had thought that it was because she wasn't sure if my German was good enough to keep up with her (which bugged me just a little) but I've now come to realise that it's a verbal tick. In the same way that people in English might say "erm" or "you know" or "like", this mother's "verstehst du mich?" is just a tick, it wouldn't be so bad if she didn't expect an answer each and every time it's uttered though! Maybe next time when she slips though my call screening and I hear "verstehst du mich?" I should say "nein"...although she'd probably take me seriously and offer me German lessons knowing my luck!
* our school has mixed year group classes.
** yes, he is a good teacher and yes the children do love him despite his strictness but it was just a little too saccharin for my stomach.
*** take your pick, I just know that Jas will be the last one there and will still want one more song.
**** I was really surprised to read just how many think they can speak English, given that they usually stare at me like I'm a martian when I talk in English with Jas.