Wanderings: Auf wiedersehen Berlin

The boys said goodbye to their classmates today. Tomorrow we drive south. Our time in Berlin is done, at least for now.

It’s hard to overstate how grateful we are for the local school and how painless they made this transition. We prepared so many documents ahead of time, reading on various blogs that the boys would need to present birth certificates, passports, three (!) years’ worth of academic records. None of it was needed, in the end. The school simply assigned them to a class and that was that.

Quinn let me shoot a few photos of his class at the start of the day today, then he threw me some hard looks. The teenager is strong in that one. I left before he got too upset.

Eamon let me stop by his classroom for the last 45 minutes of the day. I watched as his classmates presented a signed Friedrichshagener Grundschule T-shirt for him. Then Frau Merkel asked him to come to the front of the classroom. The students raised their hands and Eamon called on them one by one, each saying what he meant to them. A lot of the kids included the word “English” in their thanks, as in thanks for helping with the English homework. Then they shared some candy. Eamon told me Frau Merkel turned out to be the best teacher he’s ever had.

While the boys spent their final day in class, we had a final visit from Siegfried and Ingrid, our adopted grandparents here in Friedrichshagen. We’ve always known that Siegfried had a lot of history, but he’s never opened up like he did today. He was 7 or 8 when the war ended, and today he told us about surviving it, about witnessing the bombing of a neighboring village by American planes, about hiding in his attic as the planes flew overhead (“I will never forget that sound…. wwwwooooorrrrrrrr.”) He talked about going to the front to see American soldiers, and his disappointment that they were German-American and spoke German and not English. He talked as well about his years surviving under the GDR and the Stasi, and about Ingrid’s arrest for not reporting a trip to the west (to see her own mother) and other stories. So much to tell.

Eamon will be back in two years and the plan for now is that he’ll visit Siegfried and Ingrid. Siegfried laughed. “If I’m not dead by then!” he said.

We’ll be in Munich by next week. Then it’s across the Alps and on to Genoa for Christmas.

Here’s some of our best photos from Berlin. No commentary yet, but I’ll start adding some captions over the next few days.

Like what you read? Give Free-range family a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.