As I returned home from walking my daughter to school this morning, I reflected upon how reluctant I am to publish so many aspects of the simplicity of German life—and why. I have written my snarkier take on Germans taking a more laid back approach to school life in Weaving, Hitting, Learning, but I rarely publish details that come to mind when I’m writing because it has become ingrained in me, over time, not to make too much information public for fear it will be exploited by “the bad guys”. It has become ingrained in me to panic at the first kindergarten visit when I realize they do not have a state-of-the-art security system for which parents must have a security code to enter the building.
This fear would likely seem irrational to a German, who would wonder why I would live in such constant fear that something bad is going to happen. This fear would also have seemed irrational to early ‘80’s me, as my friends and I rode our bikes through the neighborhood without supervision from breakfast until dinner without a cell phone for our parents to call or text. How am I still alive?
Truly, the fear is pretty irrational since the majority of my readership is English-speaking and in America, where there is a very low likelihood that persons of ill intent are culling the blogosphere for indications of cracks in German school security procedures for opportunities to hop on the next flight to wreak havoc upon the children. And yet I take pause. When I write that the children walk to school here from a young age, I worry that I’m revealing some big secret, despite the fact that the several-nation radius of potential “bad guys” are already aware of German customs. These laid back habits are new and baffling only to me and the hypervigilant, overreactive society from which I come.
I say that these customs are new to me, but they are not new to me—they are forgotten by me. I have forgotten what it is like to live in a place where children are allowed out of sight of their parents and trusted caretakers before age ten. I have forgotten what it is like to live in a place where children walk farther than the end of their driveway to catch a bus. I have forgotten what it is like not to be presented with a variety of different security procedures at a school orientation, for every scenario an American can imagine could possibly occur during the hours their child is in the classroom, without them.
I, for one, am glad to be in Germany, to be reminded.