A New School Year- A New Battle
The first day of the new school year is already a memory, but I remember my first day of school vividly. Do you?
Can you imagine how it would feel to start school in a foreign country and in a foreign language you don’t speak? Even worse, what if you arrived on Sunday and your children started to school the next day. Does the thought terrify you? Trade your terror for laughter with this multi-culti VIP’s true story.
My husband’s company transferred him to Switzerland. We traded the big city life for a new home in a village in East Switzerland, population 1500. We were looking forward to the beautiful nature, no crime and plenty of peace and quiet.
We, my husband, two children and I, arrived on Sunday. Our daughter was scheduled to start school on Monday. The next morning, we breakfasted together. My husband went to work and left us ready for our new adventure. Despite the jet-lag, it was a perfectly normal morning.
The three of us left the house, my daughter carrying her “Schulerteke”* and “Etui”* (a bag to hold pencils and pens). I was happy the company organized them because I had no idea what either of them were, why she needed them or where to get them. We were so excited, we giggled and skipped our way hand-in-hand to her new school.
Out of the blue, a motorcade of military tanks overtook us. I saw the school in the distance but I saw something else on the side of the road. What was it – sand sacks piled on top of each other? As I began to connect the dots, tanks, sand sacks… suddenly, soldiers were running across the street, pointing their guns at each other. Oh my God there were more soldiers behind the sand sacks - with guns.
Before I connected all the dots, I heard BOOM, BOOM. It was a bomb!
I did what any good mother would do; I picked up my kids with superwoman strength and sprinted as fast as I could to the safety of our new home. Our new home in that idyllic, peaceful village!
I was out of breath and my heart was racing as I called my husband. “There is a war in Gams! Soldiers and tanks and even bombs,” I screamed in panic.
“Calm down,” he soothed. “That’s not a war – just a military exercise.”
“You mean they were just playing war – next to a school?
“Well, I wouldn’t call it playing I would call it practicing. Did you take Caroline to school?
“Of course not, I had to protect her. Now, on her first day of school, she is 45 minutes late.” My superwoman powers left me as I began to cry.
Well there was nothing else to do but suck it up and walk back to school and explain everything to the teacher. Which I did. But first I had to calm my children. I explained the soldiers were only playing and promised them nobody would shoot them.
We arrived over an hour late to school and I was so ashamed. “Herr Lehrer, I am so sorry Caroline is late, it’s my fault. I thought there was a war in Gams,” I apologized.
Unfortunately I continued. “Actually, I thought it was strange – Switzerland is neutral, correct?” You cannot imagine the look that man gave me.
I realize teachers hear all kinds of excuses for being late. Maybe even you have used one or two. But I think we can all agree - that is the ONLY time in that teacher’s career he ever heard that particular excuse.
Maybe you have a couple of good excuses up your sleeve. Please share them with us.