Saturday, 1 November 2008

Week 9

I mentioned earlier that I would seek help for persuading the boys to join the gemeinde youth choir, which they have been very reluctant to do. So I contacted an old friend who is head of a music department at a prestigious public school in England. I sang in a choir directed by him for 10 years and also worked closely with him on the choir committee, and I know that his powers of persuading people to do things they are unconfident with are superb.

His answer ?

“Blackmail. Works a treat with teenagers”.

Ah, I thought there might be more to it than that, but obviously not. So, with this in mind, I have persuaded them to try the youth choir until Easter, with the promise of the colours of their choice in their new bedroom. Luckily they’re not at the teenage-everything-completely-black stage yet, so we settle on blue and red, with two walls in white as well to tone it down (it’s now finished and looks absolutely vile, but they are thrilled with it.)

Tuesday sees the first of their choir rehearsals. I am not remotely surprised when they both come home absolutely full of it, having thoroughly enjoyed themselves. See, Mother always knows best.

Kanton Zurich are having a fitness drive for children based on studies done at the University (or possibly ETH, sorry, can’t remember) and so Monday is Fitness for Kids day. They both come home with an information booklet aimed at increasing awareness of the need for exercise and eating and drinking healthily, and also a food diary that they have to fill in for the next few weeks. Yikes. Better get our 5-a-day up to scratch.

OH is the USA this week, and there are 3-4 letters from school which I’m struggling with, to be honest, but I don’t think they require action as such, just an understanding of the fitness plan. One of the letters is about Hallowe’en, and reminding parents to make sure their children aren’t unruly and delinquent on Friday night if they are out trick or treating. Having recently lived in a deprived part of north Manchester, where it wasn’t uncommon for us to wake up with a vomit splattered doorstep and broken glass all over our drive on Saturday and Sunday mornings, I can’t imagine anything less likely here. When I had gone out to rehearsal in Zurich the previous Friday night, the “yoof menace”, gathered to have a sneaky fag in the shadows of the Kindergarten up the road and drinking nothing stronger than Rivella, all said “Gruezi mitenand” very politely when I walked past. Startled at them being completely unintimidating, I had laughed inwardly to myself: how wonderful to live in a place where people of all ages greet everyone else with respect.

J comes home with a form I must sign to say that he had not handed in a test countersigned by me: the reason being, that he hadn’t understood that I had to sign it and then him hand it in. So I sign the test and the form with an apology that he had not understood the instructions; he later tells me that his teacher was fine about it. It sounds very fierce that parents have to sign a form to say that a piece of homework hasn’t been handed in, but it was a genuine misunderstanding on J’s part, and I do think that the teachers realise that instructions aren’t always understood completely.

Wednesday night it snows. Boy does it snow. Thursday we wake up with about 8” of snow outside, and the boys moan like hell about not being able to scoot to school – until they look outside and can barely contain themselves. I would like to "flip" this image so it's the right way up but I can't so sorry about your cricked neck.

They come home for lunch absolutely soaked and freezing cold, the entire school having had a massive snowball fight with the other school next door at morning break time. So massive a fight, in fact, that the gemeinde police had paid them all a visit…… J’s teacher tells them to come back after lunch with their ski gear, so they can play in the snow properly. Excellent ! You couldn’t do that in the UK without having to do a risk assessment first, by which time the snow would have melted and everyone would have given up and gone home.

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