So Monday, if this was a normal week, would have been lesson planning, probably an ARD shift and not much else. Well, dear readers, this is not a week like any other. No, this is a week where I work on a Monday so I can have Friday off in order to fly home in a timely manner before Christmas. So yes, to work.
There’s an animal park and free time centre in Ilmenau, which I mentioned a few posts back, and that’s where I headed on Monday morning. When I arrived the kids were tucking into their breakfast after having walked there from school. They then got to make chocolate apples, nut covered pine cones (aka bird feeders) and various arts and crafts. My job was to generally make sure they didn’t impale themselves on anything and help with the glue gun. This left plenty of time for my own arts and crafts, as well as burning myself on the glue gun. I couldn’t figure out if it was hot enough to use, so I stuck my finger in it…. Yes, I’m an idiot. This is a well established fact.
So I made the most fabulous angel. Their poncho being at a jaunty angle was totally intentional.
After all that I walked with the kids back to school only to follow the same route back to my flat, before later going to do an ARD shift. This week it involved much glühwein, much cake and Wared telling me that it’s a man’s job to bring in the sign from outside. He was being nice, and yes I had struggled to do it by myself, but if there’s one thing guaranteed to make me attempt something is to tell me that it’s a job for the males. I did end up with chalk all over me, and a guy ended up helping me out of the goodness of his heart, but still. Girls can carry signs too.
Tuesday was a return to normal service, with being in four English classes within the space of an hour and a half. I did much explaining of Christmas in England, and if one more child tells me Santa isn’t real just to see what I’ll do, I’m going to have to lie down in a darkened room for a while. The other awkward moment always comes when I explain Christmas cake and show them the picture of our cake for this year. The awkward moment comes because my Dad baked it. My Dad is a fantastic cook (I really need to stop complimenting him on here – he’ll get a big head) and has always baked our Christmas cakes, as well as all of my birthday cakes. But children tend to have gender roles firmly entrenched in their mind and boys don’t cook. So they want to know where my Mom is. This is the sticky bit, because I can either explain that boys and girls can cook (which always makes me think of this Jon Richardon quote or I have to tell them my Mom’s dead. Or both. Normally I do both. Thankfully kids move past the ‘my Mom’s dead’ sentence better than most adults do.
Then on Tuesday evening, the secretary picked me up at 5.45 and we headed to the teacher’s Christmas party. This involved alcohol, food and laughter. Also a very strange version of secret santa that I shall explain for you now.
Step 1. Everyone brings a wrapped present with them. Requirements are that it be ridiculous and/or something unnecessary.
Step2. Everyone takes turn rolling a dice. If you get a six you get to go pick a present. Repeat this step till everyone has a present.
Step 3. Everyone opens their present, laughing at the ridiculousness. Example presents include a bar of chocolate plus a Chippendale (as in the dancers) box of tissues with the slogan “Tissues for after”, and a full set of nativity figures, and bed shoes plus a bottle of perfume.
Step 4. Pick an amount of time. Any amount of time. A reasonable amount of time. And set a timer.
Step 5. During the set amount of time, take it turns to roll the dice again. Odd numbers mean pass the present in front of you to the left that amount of times. 2&4 mean pass the present in front of you to the right that amount of times. 6 means you get to choose someone to swap with.
Step 6. When the time is up, hope the present left in front of you is decent.
I ended up with a bag and the bed shoes. Also a mug from the Ilmenau brewery. And a bell and a candle. People kept giving me their stuff. I think I am very much considered the child of the group. Which is not shocking considering how much younger I am than everyone else. That may also explain why one of the older teachers was so shocked when I ordered beer.
Wednesday was a normal day again, though I wasn’t needed in the first two English lessons. I ended up doing a translation one of the teachers had asked me to do, then found out later it’s for a course she’s doing. I did her English homework for her… Ah well. Least it took me till 20 to actually do someone’s homework for them.
In the third and fourth period, I was in the German class as always. We began by going on a jaunt to a house that was built in 1691. I had one girl holding my hand and a boy asking me a gazillion and one questions despite the fact that he had a sore throat and “couldn’t speak”. I told them that ‘ein tausend’ was ‘one thousand’ in English and they then repaid me by telling me I was at least a thousand years old. I mean, I should have seen it coming. They think 20’s ancient enough as it is. They also asked me who my favourite friend is, which is a very loaded question, and I cautiously said that one of best friends is called Maddie. Then I said she was 21 and they couldn’t quite believe how old she was. Sorry Maddie. (Speaking of Maddie, she has a fashion blog which you should got check out. Because fabulous clothes.) After our excursion, I did German on the computers with the kids. I had to explain what the infinitive is about ten times. Which was, you know, boring but important so ah well.
Then I headed home to pick up my stuff for tutoring and then returned to school for the Weinachtsprogramm, where the one teacher I thought didn’t like me gave me a Christmas present. Sparkly nail polish – is definitely the way to a girl’s heart. Well, this girl anyway. This means in terms of Christmas presents from school, which I certainly wasn’t expecting, I’ve had a teddy bear, a necklace and nail polish. A good start to the Yuletide, methinks.
The choir were suitably adorable.
The Weihnachtsprogramm was good. First the choir sang, and various children played various songs and various instruments. Then the parents put on a pantomime of Rumpelstiltskin, which was really good. And it all rhymed. I was very impressed. It was all topped off by a visit from Santa, who handed out biscuits to every class.
The German Santa has bells. And he doesn’t come down the chimney – he comes through the door. Because Germans are all about the practicality.
And then to tutoring. Luka, the boy, is ill, so it was just me and Viktoria. We wrote a letter to Santa, then she made a Christmas card and then we made a huge paper chain. She wanted to know how I was going to get it home, and I said she could keep it. Which her parents loved. Though I don’t know if Viky was too impressed. Her parents were also super lovely, and gave me a Christmas bonus. And her Mom suggested I get a boyfriend while I’m in Germany. Which was a weird segue from talking about presents, but hey, maybe Santa will bring me a boyfriend for Christmas. Not that a boyfriend was on my Christmas list. Was more along the lines of the Game of Thrones books and comedians’ DVDs.
The longest paper chain I’ve made since I was in primary school.
Thursday was my last day at school before the holidays and like Monday, I spent it at the free time centre, this time sanding down, then painting a wooden elephant and messing around with ribbon&hot glue&shiny things.
The kids hard at work. This does not mean they were quiet.
The class I was with are a little…rowdy. High spirited. Whatever synonym for annoying you prefer. And I ended up improving slightly with discipline. By which I mean, on the way back to school, some of the boys nearly ended up pushing each other in front of a car, so I made one of them walk by me at the back of the line. And when he tried to go back to his friends I made him hold my hand. 8 year old boys are not fans of this.
At lunch I got given another Christmas present, and I know that this blog post must just sound like me going look what I got, but I was genuinely surprised every time someone gave me a present. This time round I got a makeup bag, a lipstick and an eye shadow called “Santa, baby.” Which is fantastic because a) my gold eyeshadow was running out and b) Santa Baby is my favourite Christmas song.
After bidding everyone farewell, I headed into town. I went to my favourite café, whose wifi has been down for three weeks now, then I went and bought all of the clothes from New Yorker, and then I headed home, managing to bump into a kid from school on my bus for the first time.
Whilst at home I have tidied my room, watched He’s Just Not That Into You and The Social Network, taken the bins out and in general done everything to put off packing. But I am now packed, and worried my bag is going to be too heavy. Ah well. We shall see. I also want to check in online, but as I don’t have a printer, I don’t see that going well. Braving the queues at Frankfurt it is.