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Firsts

Great Times > Remembering
The very first school days marks the beginning of what some may regard as "serious life." Still, let's make sure we have some fun along the way...
 
For the Very First Time...
 
As the saying goes, one does steadily remember the first time. This is especially the case, if it occurred as a moment desperately yearned for, when it was still a long-term goal on the distant horizon. History is said to repeat itself, and so also a famous first experience may become recurring routine at some point. What nicer starting point could there possibly be than a joyful first moment? 
 
A New Beginning
 
International Communication can be challenging. At one point in time, we tried to translate "Schultuete." Meaning that large cone, filled with sweets and little toys, given to kids over here on their first day of school, a "School Goody Bag?" The nice custom must have come down from further north for otherwise the word "Tuete" is not too frequently used in the area. Instead, a paper bag is called " Sackerl." At the same time, "Stanitzel" is used in connection with pointed shapes, describing the rolled paper holding hot chestnuts as well as the cone with some tasty ice cream. In Slovene language this would equal the similar expression "skrnicelj." The first day at school is one of those milestones in life that is eagerly awaited, celebrated and still there is this strange feeling in the stomach saying "Will I do everything right?" Billions did it before, still it remains an unforgettable challenge for the individual. Another step for growing up and being allowed to do grown up things. Whether it is always worthwhile or not. Challenging situations may happen over and over again in the course of a life. Some do and others may never become routine.
 
Learning in Kindergarten
 
All We Really Needed to Know. Impressions and lessons collected on this page may talk to both pupils and adults, who had "learned all they really needed to know in kindergarten," to quote yet another fellow book author. Many years ago, a colleague pointed me at a book by Robert Fulghum, which collected simple, yet meaningful thoughts. They would circle around imagination being stronger than knowledge and lessons from an initial period of socialization in kindergarten, which would establish ground rules for life. Early insights would include playing fair and cleaning up one's own mess. Going out into the world, watching out for traffic, and the timeless advice to stick together would come to mind as well as what qualifies as the biggest word of all: "Look!" And so we all should go through our life with wide open eyes that are ready to observe and inhale the beauty that surrounds us as well as early on recognize luring dangers. All too soon, it would be time to leave kindergarten and enter school. On the very first school day, right next to the classroom we'd detect a disclaimer saying: "If you promise not to believe everything your child tells from school, we promise not to believe everything it tells from home." A few weeks into primary school our boy revealed: "We're learning zero – Wir lernen Null!" Quickly, he'd clarify that in maths they had been talking about numbers.
 
On our way to kindergarten we would rhyme: "We're going to the day care, where all the children wait there  Wir gehen in den Kindergarten, wo die ganzen Kinder warten."
 
Family celebrations on the occasion of Confirmation.
 
Confirm, Please! 
 
Just Making Sure. "Can you confirm, please," is a question asked many times to ensure proper mutual understanding and drive responsibility. In our life, we are asked many times to confirm, to reconfirm, to approve, to lead by example. The other weekend we assembled for the confirmation of my daughter at church. Some parishes make a bigger deal out of the beforehand preparation, demand a higher investment of time and effort from confirmation candidates, others ask for less. What they have in common is that they want to inspire the young folk, achieve active participation and promote good deeds. Confirmation is a time to personally say yes to the baptism decision that the parents had taken on behalf of their newborn child. It is a time of commitment and a directional decision on the gateway to growing up. And I remember an occurrence in one of those preparation hours for my own confirmation. We had to draw a picture of our favorite animal, our personal emblem. I had put the picture of a spider to paper. The priest asked me about it and upon my reply that "I also sometimes lose the thread of my conversation," he burst into laughter...
 
Special Moments
 
Turning One. There are lots of "firsts" in life. Your first word, your first step, your first love, your firstborn... but most of all there is your first birthday! What a party. And usually the birthday child doesn't even remember it later, maybe for being an especially wild celebration with lots of food and drinks. Just ask our baby, or "vevy," as the other kids used to call him. Those are the days, when you don't have trouble finding enough space on the frosting for all the candles representing the years that have gone by. Probably, for there is only one candle. A number one hit, so to speak. And so we all assembled for a very special occasion with one baby boy and one cake, decorated with that lonesome candle in the wind. Then of course, we'd gather for another celebration of the same event with our relatives and a tasty teddy bear shaped biscuit cake, we just couldn't keep our fingers away from. Almost as it had been with our aunt, who at baby age just picked up the biscuit cake to take a big bite. A scene, we had attempted to recreate when we celebrated a first birthday with our own kids...
 
No Boys Suits for Ages. There are a number of special occasions, where people are getting all dressed up. Naturally, one needs to prepare for the same. Going out to shop for a suit for the First Communion can be fun! At first we learned on a rainy day that the fashion store, where Dad got his own suit for the same occasion, didn't sell kids clothes any more "for a couple of years." Then we'd find something nice that we could proudly show to the girls at home, just as we would be proud of our son at the actual event of his First Communion four weeks later. When it was time for our girl to follow, I was positively surprised how fast her dress was picked. It was chosen within twenty minutes! While my girl was showing the dress one more time at home, my boy's comment was that the only thing missing here were wings. How right he was, and proud again we were.
 
 
 
A couple years earlier: Family gathering for the First Communion.
 
So much for Firsts.
Go to the next page to see a Slideshow.
 
 
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