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.