Sunday, March 12, 2006

Where Claire is once again reminded of her inadequacies

In response to the demands of my more advanced English students, I have organized a book club. Every month we will read a book in English and then meet once a month to eat and discuss the book. We had our first meeting on Friday. It was a lot of fun and I think it will be a great way to socialize and practice English. We will be reading The Known World by Edward Jones through April.

Although my week ended on a high note, my cold still has not gone away. I feel very stuffy and now I have a cough. I don't have a fever, but I have the heavy feeling in my body which indicates that all I want to do is sleep, and which I was looking forward to the past weekend. But what did I do instead? This weekend the German and I baby-sat his 4 year-old nephew and 5 year-old niece.

One of the members of my book club is pregnant and due any minute. The last 30 minutes of the meeting turned into a chat about pregnancy, giving birth, and the "proper" roll of women in society. It was nice and made me think, "Kids - I should really do that." Well . . . Nothing smashes your biological clock to pieces like babysitting a 4 and 5 year old when you have a head cold.

The kids are actually getting a little easier to handle. Now that they are older, you can do stuff with them. Which is good. Unfortunately they have developed the ability to think independently. Which is bad. They have also realized that Tante (aunt) Claire is "different." That is, my German is bad. And this weekend they started the "cute" habit of correcting me.

The most difficult thing about German is the der, die, and das. Each noun has a gender and you have to change the corresponding der (masculine), die (feminine) and das (neutral) depending on the case. I accidentally said "die Zug" (the train) instead of "der Zug" in front of my nephew. He looked at me and said, "No! It is 'der Zug.' 'Die Zuege' means more than one train" (his emphasis, not mine). What made it worse was how he spread out his hands in front of him while explaining the difference and the exasperated look on his face.

I told my niece to go put on her shoes and jacket so that we could leave. She stopped and turned around and began my daily grammar lesson. I stopped her mid-sentence and said, "I don't care! My German is good enough to scold you. Now please do what you are told." It appears that looking over your glasses with the don't-test-me-or-I-will-punish-you-look transcends the spoken word.

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