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Monday, January 21, 2013

It's Only a Year

Roughly about 2 months ago, my husband's old boss from Germany called and asked  him if he was interested in applying for a position in Dresden, Germany, where we were expats about two years ago.

We were excited, but overwhelmed.  We wanted to do it but there was so much to think about.   You see, this time, it is a permanent position.  Last time, we knew it was only for a year.  (And it ended up being a year to the date- July 2, 2010-July 2, 2011)

When something is only for a year, you think to yourself  I can do anything for a year.  And that was precisely my attitude when I was living in Germany.  Those days when I thought the German people were mean.  It's only a year.  The handful of times I accidentally ate nuts, which I am allergic to, all because I couldn't read the food label.  It's only a year.  When I couldn't communicate and speak German in semi-emergency situations (emergency room visits, lost my locker key to the pool, calling doctor's offices, talking to pharmacists about dosage and directions to medicine, when the cable man came to set it up...this list could go on forever...It's only a year.  "It's only a year" was my philosophy.  It got me through those stressful days that only living in a foreign country could give you.  I realized that once I passed the 6 months time, I was finding  myself say "We only have 6 months left."  Then, "Only 3 months left."  Then, it was an urgency to do everything, to get it all in.  I visited Dresden's museums, we booked a vacation each month.  I wanted to go to Paris;  my husband didn't.  So, I went by myself with the kids.  I wanted to go to Spain-  where in Spain, I didn't know.  I made friends with an English-speaking travel agent, and she found me a deal in Malaga, Spain, a city right on the Mediterranean.  My agent friend also found me in a deal in Vienna, and both these trips I went with just the kids, since Tim was busy at work.  I became obsessed with traveling and seeing everything I could before my year was over.  Now, there was a deadline.  Even one of the moms at the international school called me crazy.  All the German moms couldn't wait to hear where I was going next.  Apparently, I was traveling and seeing more of Europe than most of them, and they lived in Europe their whole lives.  They found me amusing.  

This time, if we decide to move back to Germany, there is no end date.   This kind of scares me, since that year deadline gave me comfort, and after we were halfway through, it gave me an urgency to do things I never in my wildest dreams thought I would do.  Like fly to Paris, France with two kids (by myself), and find my way from the airport to the train, to the subway that would take us to our hotel.  I became this strong, brave lady, and I haven't felt that way since.  When I was in Spain, Paris and Vienna, I walked around those cities with all my guidebooks and maps and I was determined to show my kids every single thing these cities had.  

I am NOT fluent in German, and barely got by with the German I know.  If I have a bad day, what will get me through it?  Will the brave European I was, return?  Oh how I miss that brave lady!

My kids in Vienna, overlooking the Danube River.  
My husband travels to Dresden, Germany tomorrow.  He is getting some sort of training, but while out there, he is meeting with his future boss' boss, and some Human Resources people.  Tim said Yes to the position about 3 weeks ago, and we are still awaiting the relocation package and contract.  The company is still getting it put together.  My husband seems to think that many many people need to put their OK stamp on this.

The next week will, I hope, bring us some answers to our future.  Are we moving back to Germany?  Are we staying in New  York?  What are we doing with our house?  Our cars?  Our things in our house- will everything be shipped?  Will I be able to take a leave from my job as a teacher?  

It's only a week.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Yes, I Have a Job

After having ten whole days off for the Christmas vacation, I had to go to work today.  Yes, it was hard to do.  Yes, it was hard to wake up.  Once at school, I had to get in my "kindergarten teacher world."  I knew my students would be coming in this morning, with lots of stories about what Santa left them all.  I had to get in my Kindergarten Teacher World, be full of smiles.  Of course, I smile all the time naturally.  But when it's the first day back after a long break, sometimes I have to train myself all over again on how one acts when they are a kindergarten teacher.

For some reason over the vacation, I slept a lot.  I would wake up most days around 10 AM, and some days around 1, I would get tired again, and sleep AGAIN!  On New Year's Day, I actually woke myself  up at 11:00.  So as you can imagine, waking up at 6 AM (and my two own children) this morning was  not all rainbows.  It was actually kind of stormy, with lots of grumpiness.

Not just anyone can be a kindergarten teacher.  You have to be the most patient, most "OH WOW!" or "Great job," and say it with the most upbeat tempo, like how one would talk to a dog or a cat.  Everything in a kindergarten teacher's world is rainbows and peace signs.  We have to spread the love.  So, ten days away from the rainbows and peace signs, I have to slowly get myself back in that, "Good morning  boys and girls.  What did Santa bring you?"  As all 16 of my children talk to me at once, I am still spreading the peace and rainbows, and say sweetly, "WOW!"

Teaching kindergarten really keeps me balanced on what is really important in life:  sharing and having fun.  These students that I get each year are like a family to me.  It's hard to believe that I have had 18 of these little families.   And if I have about 20 students in each class (and for 2 years, I taught a morning and afternoon class) so how many students have I spent a considerable amount of time with?  Roughly 400 students!!  I sit here amazed at that!

So, today I ended my Christmas vacation, and talked about presents, staying up late for New Year's and we even wrote resolutions.  One of my little kids today wrote that his resolution was that he will always say yes to me;  It was very cute.

My students wanted to know what my resolution was.  I told them it was to continue to run and write.  My kids thought the running part was funny.  "Well, how many times do you see a grown-up running on a playground and playing?  Grown-ups don't really do that, so to get exercise, we have to go to a gym or run."  Ben, a curious little boy says, "Mrs. Walz, all you have to do is just play on the playground.  Why don't grown ups just play with us."

I know, Ben.  We should.  That Ben is very smart.
Happy  New Year everyone, and hope you all had a wonderful Christmas vacation and soft landings into your work this morning!