Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Back To School


I arrived back from holiday to find an invitation to my 20-year school reunion, which is delightful, but obviously a mistake since I am only 27. I will have to contact the organiser to point out her error. The other issue I have, apart from the erroneous invitation, is that the reunion is for tea, a school tour and lunch. When my husband went to his 20-year reunion last year (he is SO MUCH older than me), there was a lunch, a rugby match and a dinner. He crawled back to his bed and breakast at 4am safe in the knowledge that all the thugs and bullies who ran things 20 years before were now complacent, fat farmers and he, 30 kilograms lighter than all of them and a darn side fitter, was the only one actually looking good in his jeans.

If I am going to fly from Germany to South Africa to go to THAT PLACE for the first time in twenty years, then I too demand a dinner, plus the finest wines known to humanity. Teas are for girls and school tours are for wimps. I want some (finally legal) drunkenness, scaling of drainpipes, a couple of tantrums, maybe a bit of name-calling and slapping, and then preferably some boys from the local school should turn up at midnight for flirting. We could play a bit of A-Ha and Duran Duran, flick our New Romantic peroxided fringes and reveal our homemade tattoos. Now THAT would be a real reunion.

Instead I fear we’re going to have to behave decorously: talk about our husbands and children, wear our good jewellery, try very hard to remember everyone’s names and pretend that school was actually a pleasant experience.

In the same year that I celebrate the (sob) twenty years since I left school, I am sending my first child into the school system, in another country and in a different language. We are gathering the equipment: we have the Schultute (beautifully crafted and ballet-themed cone), the Schultute gifts (purchased by me in England), the Schulrantzen (enormous rectangular, ergonomic, Day-Glo backpack that all German junior school children must have), the Turnbeutel (small bag for gym which goes into the Rantzen) and the Geldbeutel (a small wallet that matches both the Turnbeutel and the Rantzen). Books and stationery are underway. We have rehearsals and parents’ meetings to attend, all in the run-up to the Einschulungstag on Saturday. This is when all the new children are welcomed into their school. There is a church service first, followed by a ceremony with speeches in a big hall. Then on Monday, she finally starts school, a little pioneer with a big smile. I hope school in Germany will be gentle to her.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

11 thoughts on “Back To School

  1. 1. SHE’S BACK! SHE’S BACK!! Thank God, my sanity is now back on track…

    2. So, does Navy Blue fit into the reunion somewhere..?

  2. Oh God, if we were wanting to be upright, I suppose navy would be the way to go. Even more pious would be chocolate brown, which was the colour of our school uniform.

  3. Welcome back! Wow! Today must have been an exciting day! Hope it went well. . .

  4. I was just looking at the photo from my class 20 year reunion today. it showed a bunch of unrecognisable, not quite middle aged women, but definitely wrinkled round the edges. I didn’t fly back to England from SA for it. How could I possibly belong to that group.(we have flattering soft light near mirrors in our house)..again there must be some mistake, and not one ra-ra skirt or new romantic fringe in sight.
    Good luck with the first day at school.

  5. ooo my son has just changed to a new secondary school and the first days were excrutiating for me. He did fine, but at 3.40 every day I was as thrilled to see him as if he’d been released from a concentration camp. ‘Darling, how wonderful! You’re still alive!’ I nearly cried. And then I thought, ouch, our own school days really mark us, don’t they? I was remembering my own experiences far more than empathising with his….

  6. Yay, CharlotteOtter is back!!!!

  7. It is unlikely I will be attending any school reunion of mine till I’m far more successful. Perhaps when/if I get to the point where I can describe myself as a close personal friend of the Dalai Lama, advisor to the UN, and author of over 50 books I’ll be ready to face those people again and, of course, I’ll be extremely humble and wonderfully down to earth and hardly condescending at all, except maybe to that Kathy whatshername who mutter, mutter, mutter…Not that I have ISSUES or anything, mind you!

    And BTW- Great to have you back!

  8. Welcome back! and good luck with that first school day. I didn’t go to my 20 year reunion – couldn’t be bothered going the 30 kilometres to get there. Scarily, I remember far too little of school, which makes me wonder just how bad it really was.

  9. YAY! You’re back!!

    Ohh, someone else who was a seven-year-old prodigy. My twenty-year reunion is supposed to be sometime this year. I received an e-mail last year reminding me that my school days were the best days of my life and that I had to be part of the celebration. Yep, right, Ms. Sexy Sixer who made my school life… So not going there.

    Or to the reunion, three hours away from where I live.

    I hope your girl’s first day goes well for her (and you) and that she will remember her schooldays fondly.

  10. Lovely to have you back my dear.

    School reunions – the best of events the worst of events. I laid a few ghosts by going to mine, mainly because I finally understood the dynamics of what had gone on all those years before. The one who patronised me then patronised me still, but this time I recognised it. The one who was Incredibly Sensible then was still Incredibly Sensible, and Incredibly Sensible still is not in any way sexy, but that’s ok now in a way it didn’t seem to be then.

    All in all, I left feeling glad to be me, and glad it is now.

    Have fun!


  11. Oh Charlotte, how wonderful to have you writing again! I loved hearing about the beginning of school in Germany. And your thoughts about your reunion made me laugh.

    I’m looking forward to scrolling up (I see I have three more whole posts to read — I hope it’s not only two!!) and seeing how it’s going with school. xxoo, BL

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