Sunday, April 26, 2009

Felix's music night at school

with hubby and older son away, there was just me to go to Felix's music night at school last night. (No, two nights ago now, sorry.) It was a very nice little event (I wanted to invite sis-in-law and niece too but it was too last-minute at the end), just the 18 kids from Felix's class and in fact they were down to 16, with their friendly but reserved German hippie teacher, and they played four songs for us with instruments, sang several more without instruments, and then did several dances (including, Ruthy and Mommy, the Tennessee Wigwalk! the dance was different but it was our very own "won't you dance with me honey, tuck your toes in tight" from Ruthy's and my childhood square dance nights on the broken-up basketball/tennis court out across from our house in Kinshasa, with Uncle Jerry calling the dances).

Very few family members came (I think they all had the same issue as us, rather late notification) but there was potluck and social time afterwards; I brought a salad to share and looked at the pictures of the class trip, and then kind of sat/stood around realizing I knew not a soul. Felix's peppy, old, about-to-retire German teacher (not the hippie one who led the music night) came and sat next to me and we talked for a while, about her plans for retirement (she plays the violin and the piano and that was to be the main joyous content of her retirement but she's messed up her wrist so she has to be patient); and then I talked to the vaguely nerdy class parent representative, a precise man who turns out to be Turkish, but he came here thirty years ago to study and has lived here since, and occupies a different social space than the vast majority of Turks in Berlin who don't speak German that well and work in menial jobs or have their own shops and are very separate. Turns out his kid only came into this class in fifth grade, so a year before Felix, and they were as surprised as we were when we came to find out that it's a tremendously international class. In this very rich, quiet edge of Berlin, the kids are Turkish, Vietnamese, Italian, Russian, Iraqi, and Felix. And probably more I don't quite register. (Another surprise to me: his kid is the quite fat one who is very differently shaped from all the other kids and differently shaped from his own so very precise father - has ex-fat me ("have ex-fat I"?) turned into a sizeist? Do I just have a bias against fat kids? Do you see why I haven't been freely handing out my blog link in Berlin?)

And then at the very end I talked to a small quiet woman who had a funny and immediate response when I said, partly being polite and partly thinking about the chance to consolidate Felix's German, that we were unfortunately only here for a year. She said "why unfortunately?" and I was rather taken aback. She then went on to complain about what a chaotic place Berlin and what a mess and how everybody would rather live in the States. And then when I said no, Felix couldn't take home a huge bottle of orange soda because we have a soda-free household, she said appreciatively "oh, there are parents even stricter than us!" Made me feel a little weird (turns out their daughter was the one who wasn't allowed to go on the class trip).

But the kids' music event was fun and it was the occasion for Felix getting some new clothes and at least I have a teeny bit more connection with the other parents now.

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