Achtung Baby Or Tschüß

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

Roughly pronounced "choos" (as in Jimmy), and weirdly aesthetically pleasing, I never expected the word Tschüß to set me off on a life muse. It's North German slang and basically an amalgam of adieu, ciao, adios, cheerio, toodleoo ect. It's a cool word, but last week it caused somewhat of a ruckus as I picked Finje up from Kindergarten.

Lulling me into a false sense of security, she appeared rather chipper despite her customary disgruntlement at being removed from the House of Fun. A short stroll to the car, cheerfully chatting about the events of the day, which apparently charmingly included Mikael sneezing snot "right across the dinner table", up into the kiddy seat and seat belt on. Starting the engine coincided with what can best be described as a blood-curdling shriek from the back seat. She was quite suddenly inconsolable, grief-stricken beyond words. Big fat salty tears cascaded down her little pink cheeks.

For a split second all my senses gridlocked. Oh God, had I trapped her finger in the door? Was this heart-wrenching sound a delayed reaction to the pain of amputation? If I looked down would there be a little digit lying on the tarmac? Or appendicitis maybe? Daytime terror?

Oh no.

"I f....f....forgot to say t...t...tschüß to F..F..Frau Harmes (hick), I w..w...want to say t..t..tschüß"

WHAT??? The relief was followed by a big mistake:

"Oh Sweetheart, it doesn't matter, you'll see her again tomorrow."

"NOOOOO, want to say tschüß NOW. Pleeeease mama."

The world was clearly collapsing around her at the thought of not having said goodbye to her favourite teacher. And she did yell please. So, of course, we went back, but not without some tutting and head shaking from me I'm ashamed to admit. Finje said her farewells and returned satisfied to the car. Then she went straight for the jugular.

"See mama, I made Frau Harmes smile ."

It occurred to me on my guilt-ridden trip home that the world would be a better place if we all felt such a deep need to make other people happy. Since that episode Finje has made a point of taking the time to find Frau Harmes at home time. Clearly the thought of leaving without performing the "make Frau Harmes smile" ritual is unacceptable to her, and quite rightly so.

It's not the first lesson my daughter has taught me and I hope it won't be the last.

So what lessons have your kids taught you?


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