October 5, 2009

German Preschool

Late this summer, it appeared Erich wouldn't be admitted to the private German preschool we were looking at, so I took matters into my own hands and started up a cooperative preschool with some other German mothers in our area. Wouldn't you know it, a couple of weeks later, I got a letter from the German school asking if we were still interested. We decided we'd found a better solution and could save a buttload of cash in the process. Seriously, what were we thinking?? All I did was send out an email to some German parent groups that I'm a part of and I got a really good response. We met, all of us for the first time, and discussed details in German as I tried to desperately to understand what the H they were talking about. Let me tell you, I was a rag doll by the time they left my house. But I had made it through the first meeting and they didn't kick me out of the group! Bonus!!

We decided to meet for 2 hours twice a week and rotate houses and responsibilities (snacks, reading/singing time, craft). We have 6 parents - all native Germans with the exception of me - and 7 children. Luckily, the children get along really well, although that could be because there are only 2 boys in the group... and even though my Erich isn't much a fan of sitting, or potty training, or eating, he's doing pretty well. He'll repeat words he hears, he's starting to ask for things more clearly, and socially he's becoming more... um, normal. What I mean is, instead of walking up to another kid and making weird animal noises, more often he'll say hi or tell me they're in his way (hey, to me that's progress!).

Overall, it's working out great - even better than I'd expected. Everyone is involved and commited, and I'm incredibly happy about my idea coming to life. However, it's been three weeks and I'm still feeling insecure about my place - whether I'm not fitting in, or what the other mothers think of me. They are all really nice and creative and easy to be around, and so are their kids, but I just wonder if they think I'm crazy or silly for only speaking to my son in a language neither my husband nor I fully understand. My biggest fear is that they'll eventually call me out as the fraud I am, deciding that my German is too sub-standard, and that my child is too young and disruptive for the group anyway (a result of my poor parenting). I feel like my only recourse is to do my best at developing relationships; however, even this is difficult because I don't understand everything they say. During our first meeting, I could only understand about 1/2 of everything that was said, and now I understand about 3/4 of the conversations, which is at least encouraging. I go home every day and look up words they used, but I still get get hung up, and even though I'm frustrated, the last thing I want is to force everyone to speak English to me. It would defeat the entire purpose of immersing Erich (and me). I also hope I can show them I have a lot to offer when it's my turn to lead. I've been sharing German translations of English songs that they don't know, maybe that will be my niche?

As I said though, I really believe this preschool is a good thing for us. I have faith that I'll grow more comfortable overtime. Erich and I are both improving in the language and it's providing more structure and social opportunities for him. Plus he LOVES going to see his "deutsche Freunde," as he calls them. I'm grateful that we gain so much from the our new friends, I just hope we can offer as much back.