PARENTS

Achtung Baby Or Part-Time Pupils

01/03/2010 11:09 | Updated 22 May 2015

Do I love my daughter? More than life itself. Do I like her? Well, I wasn't wildly fond of her during labour and occasionally she's such a walking disaster I wonder why they don't name a tornado after her, but yes I do. She brings me to the heights and depths of emotion and she's my baby.

The four hours she's in kindergarten though....Bliss.

Four hours that feel like four minutes. Full time pre-school care here is rare, indeed full time any school here is rare. We are well into the 21st century and the majority of German schools still finish at lunchtime! Around midday groups of hungry hormonal adolescents shuffle their way homeward. They arrive requiring sustenance, still spilling over with sickening vitality and joie de vivre and with nine hours or so to go before you can pack them off to bed. Nine hours of homework unreasonable?

It's a historical and political issue. The image of the indomitable, stalwart Hausfrau, running her home and producing future generations of well mannered citizens is a tradition dating back 250 years and is seldom frowned upon even by today's emancipated females. The traditional thinking being that no schooling can improve on a mother.

They haven't met this mother!

Somewhat crestfallen at being described as "elderly primate" when I gave birth at the tender age of 35, I suggested "experienced woman of the world" as an alternative to being made to feel like a geriatric monkey. It never caught on but despite my apparent imminent senility I nonetheless nurtured a quiet feeling of superiority amongst my 20 something roommates.

I'd been there and done it. Posed around in my zippy sports car and sipped overpriced skinny lattes in arty-farty overpriced cafes whilst calling mates on a work's mobile to gossip about the previous night's party. It was a great time, but you know when it's enough. Now a stay at home mum I feel no requirement whatsoever to justify myself. It's satisfying.

All very Zen but it doesn't mean I want to see my child in the house before teatime on a school day. Isn't school as much for the preservation of a modicum of sanity for parents as for the education of the child? If the non-uniform policy were not tragedy enough, schools sending their charges home at midday must be akin to cruel and unusual parental punishment.

Hope springs eternal. Change is afoot. Today's women want to or have to work. The school system will have to adapt. Finje has a few years. My fingers are crossed.

Could you cope with half-day schooling?

Suggest a correction