Tag Archives: children

When your child is ill in Germany

In all the years I’ve lived in Germany, probably the time when I felt the most acutely abroad … and by that I mean I felt like I’d been transmat-beamed to a different universe… was when I had a small baby. There is nothing childrearing, you’d think, for bringing people together in a shared experience common to all humankind.

Wrong.

There’s nothing like having a baby for highlighting the cultural differences between nations.

Compare, for instance, what happens when your child has a cold. In the UK, you’d carry on pretty much as normal, but as a concession to the situation, might carry a couple of extra packets of tissues with you in a futile attempt to stem (or at least spread around) the tidal wave of snot which will be flowing steadily down your toddler’s upper lip.

In Germany you will package your child up in a snow-suit, scarf, hat, mittens and a furry lining to the pushchair and hot-foot it to the Apotheke.  After handing over the best part of your annual salary, you will return triumphantly with assorted packets of malodorous chest-rubs, a herbal tea known as Erkältungstee (which your child will instantly regurgitate and refuse to touch again)… and a mysterious device which enables you to extract the snot from your offspring’s nose.

The Nasensauger… a medieval torture instrument for sucking the juices out of small children. Or something…

On the advice of the Apotheker, you will also have purchased a rectal thermometer and will be monitoring your child’s temperature hourly… in a manner which would probably have social services at the door in Blighty.

Fortunately the thermometer has pictorial instructions for usage on it… personally and exclusively modelled by Winnie the Pooh

If you attempt to send your child to kindergarten or school in the state of having a sniffle, you will immediately be phoned and told to come immediately and collect the invalid –  who in the meantime is being held in isolation.  If the teacher is a stickler, your sick child may not be allowed to return without having been cleared to do so by a paediatrician.
Needless to say, there is no German word for to soldier on….

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Cool stuff for kids in Germany

When I was visiting Kempen I also spotted these cool street-sculptures which double as entertainment for kids.

Rocking Horse

Hoppe hoppe Reiter…

Bendy chicken

Flexible fowl…

Rocking pig

For future Bastian Schweinsteigers?

 

 

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Filed under About Germany, children in germany, Life in Germany, travel in germany

Little Book of Heroes – prize giveaway

My publisher contacted me the other week with some questions about reaching out to English speaking book lovers in Germany. Of course initially I was suspicious. Exactly what were they trying to flog now?

As it turned out, I shouldn’t have worried. My publisher had sponsored a poetry competition among the children of the British Armed Forces on the subject of heroes. Kids from age 6 to young teens submitted their poems… most of them extremely personal and written about their Dads (and a few Mums) in the army. The profits from sales of the book will be donated to Help for Heroes.

My publisher even kindly sent me a copy of the book.

When I got it I was blown away. First of all… the poems in the book are very very good. And extremely moving. OK – lets face it. If you read it, you’re going to be blubbing into your bedtime cocoa. The poems in this book are poignant in the extreme – and a sharp reminder that when soldiers go to war, their whole family suffers. The burden of pain and fear which these children bear with such stoicism (most of the time) is amazing.

Anyway… I have a pristine copy of this book. Not blubbed-on or tear-splashed or snotted-over. And I’m giving it away to one lucky reader of Planet Germany. To enter the draw, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post. That’s it. Simplicity itself!

Next Sunday I will put all the names in a hat and my daughter’s cat (the one that looks like Hitler – cat, not daughter, I hasten to add…)  will be invited to select a winner.I will then email the winner to get the address to send the book to.

And now the small print: The feline’s decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into (the cat may even be illiterate for all I know). Any attempt to send us mice or other bribes through the mail will mean instant disqualification. The usual rules apply to comments – I will not approve comments which are spam, abusive, attack others etc. yada yada. Comments that don’t get approved don’t get entered in the draw. Basically… be nice.

And good luck!

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I’m producing a series of audiobooks

Given how many public readings I’ve been giving recently, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I branched out into the world of performing audiobooks.

I haven’t recorded Planet Germany yet (though watch this space…) but I have just launched the first two English language classic literature tapes for children.

Click on the images for more details:

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Filed under books, children in germany, german education

Don’t take your child to school by car in Germany

School started again in Northrhine Westphalia this week – and as usual the local papers are exhorting parents not to drive their children to school by car.

Doing the school run by car exposes children to multiple dangers in Germany it seems. Not only will your child miss out on vital daily exercise, which would be incurred by walking or cycling, but also their social development will be impaired. Making your way to school independently is a first key step in developing independence and responsibility.

But more than this, the sheer volume of traffic around the school gates when parents insist on using the car, means that other children are endangered by having to negotiate busy roads and distracted drivers.

How different this is from the UK where many primary school children are not allowed to cycle to school or even make the journey on their own because of parental fears of abduction or bullying.

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Career advice for German children

A long running theme in our office is about the relative superiority of British versus German childrens TV programming. We Brits all remember Blue Peter, while the Germans wax lyrical about Die Sendung mit der Maus.

But which nation’s programming is most likely to help kids to grow up as happy, well-balanced socially integrated adults?

So I decided to have a look back at some of the old public service programmes aimed at educating the next generation…

First exhibit, ladies and gentlemen, is Blue Peter.  Note the subliminal messages for British children:

  • it is big and clever to do stunts on your bike
  • you too can aspire to become Evil Knieval
  • if you’re going to do motocross on muddy terrain, it’s really sensible to wear white trousers

Second exhibit, is Die Sendung mit der Maus.  Note the subliminal messages for German children:

  • if you’re going to have a crap job you might as well go the whole hog and sing out of tune too
  • the most aspirational heroes are those who do the dirtiest work cheerfully
  • and you get to wear trendy gear… in a sort of Guatanamo Bay chic kind of way….

Is it any wonder that both nations have different types of social problem?

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Filed under german education, german television, German video, Life in Germany