Due to the pandemic measures that hung over our first year in Germany, we’re strangely experiencing a lot of “firsts” in our second year here. Today, N’s Kita (Kindergarten, but here it’s preschool) had their end of year field trip for her group. There was an email last week to tell us when the kids would be gone (most of the day) and a reminder to pack additional snacks, water, and sturdy shoes. There was no permission slip. There were also no parent chaperones. All five teachers went with the 25 kids, according to N. They took a long walk to a Bach (a small stream) “a ways away” from Kita. Then they played in the water, ate their lunch, and walked back.
It was a long walk, and fun, and hot, she reported to me as I biked us home. When I told her that I needed to go get groceries for dinner, N informed me that she didn’t want to go to the grocery store with me, because she was tired. H was home in the office, so I was more than happy to deliver her home. But no, she didn’t need me to go all the way upstairs with her. She asked me to walk with her from the garage to the main floor, where she then walked up three flights of stairs and rang the doorbell. I left to walk to the store. I also called my husband while she was walking up the stairs to let him know what was happening. You can take the American and move her to Germany, but she’s still going to panic a bit when her kid does stuff for the first time.
If I sound like this field trip is surprising, it’s not. This isn’t the first trip she’s taken with Kita. Nearly weekly, they take walks to nearby parks to “look at the nature” and learn things about plants, or so she tells me at dinner time. We never hear about these trips. Once, with Kita, they walked to a park over a kilometer away, and we only learned about it when H took her there for the first time. He was informed that she’d already been there before, with her school. She’s gone to the theater – we knew about that one, since we had to pay for the ticket – and “taken the bus to the forest” – we didn’t know about that one.
N just finished her second year of Kita, she’s a “midi”. Next year is her last year, she’ll be a “maxi” at school. German kids start school later, Kindergarten – what we call Kita for short – is all preschool here. They don’t start elementary school until they’re six. I am proud of her independence, and yet, a part of me aches for the days when she needed me. Oh sure, she still needs me sometimes. But more and more, it’s “don’t walk too close” and “I can do it on my own” and “watch me do this all by myself”. German preschools foster this independence from a young age, in fact, I know that in some areas, the kids go on overnight camping trips in their Kindergarten. Again, without parents and only with teachers. Strange to think that less than 6 years ago, she was fully dependent on me for everything, and now, she’s off on adventures I only hear about hours or days later.