How to confuse a 5-year-old

A few weeks ago I attended a Roman Catholic first communion, namely that of a young relative of Schatz.  Me, I’m a Prod and proud, to quote from the song, but I’m more than happy to attend such things, stick some cash in the lad’s Erste Kommunion card and join the family for post-mass buffet lunch (which was delicious).

Before the mass started, I chatted to Schatz’s relative-in-law, her five-year-old daughter, seated between us.  R-in-L and I chatted in German.  Daughter sat quietly all during the mass.

Eventually we reached the Lord’s Prayer.  Everyone else said it in German: Vater unser, etc.  I said it in English, my beloved mother tongue, thus:

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done
in earth, as it is in heaven:
Give us this day our daily  bread;
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil:
When before the Collect the priest alone recites the prayer, the people here respond: Amen.
When after all have communicated the people repeat each petition after the priest, the prayer ends:
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
Amen.

Within a few syllables, five-year-old is staring at me, her jaw nearly reaching the ground.  Daughter tells Mutti words to the effect:

I can’t understand a word he is saying.

Mutti tells daughter:

He comes from another country. 

(Daughter still looks mystified as I flick back into German.)

Have a confusing day, won’t you!

man driving vehicle near tree

Photo by Deeana Creates on Pexels.com

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We Are Not A Babysitter Service…

I reiterate once more.  I admit it once more.  I am a care bear.

But even I have my limits.

Rewind to a few weeks ago.  We have a member of congregation, who is is a de facto single mother  (DFSM).  Husband works away a lot.  She’s lonely, possibly a bit burdened with bringing up a two-year-old child on her own.  Probably her German is limited.  Ditto (I suspect) her English.  I have noticed her several times in the past few months.  I have often wondered: is she possibly on Mogadon?  She often seems in a bit of a daze.

After there service one day, I hear a conversation a few metres away:

House group member:

Oh yes, we have a house group on Wednesday evenings.  You really should come.  We are looking at the Book of Acts.  We also enjoy fellowship, tea and cookies.

DFSM:

Oh, I will come.

Fast-forward to the following Wednesday.  It’s 19:45.  Most of the house group members are there.

Let me just interject here.  House group is also known as:

  • Home group
  • Hauskreis (literally: house circle in German)
  • Life group
  • Bible study

We get settled in for a good meaty session to look at the Book of Acts.

My mobile rings. It is DFSM.

An abrupt:

Hey, when is the service?

I tell her it starts in 10 minutes.  DFSM cuts the call.

We carry on, ploughing through the passage.

20:20, and it’s DFSM again.

Hey, where is the service?  I am at Blahblahstrasse.

We talk her through how to get house group.  It is now 20:24.  I have had a strenuous week month.  My patience is starting to grow as thin as my hair…

20:30 DFSM arrives.

Her 2-year-old child in tow.

Nobody says a thing.  Maybe they have other thoughts, but they keep it zipped.  Nobody wants to make a fuss.  I bite my lip.  I bite my tongue.

Group leader hands DFSM a bible.  DFSM seems puzzled.  Maybe, kann es sein, she thought she was coming to a service, where should could dump the reason for her Kindergeld onto others.  It’s house group, bible study, ma’am.  The study of the bible is the MoSCoW must-have part of house group.

Offspring screams.

Offspring shouts.

Offspring wanders round the flat, picking bric a brac up from our host’s bookcase.

We all politely smile and say how active offspring is.  I sit thinking about my day at work and how I was needing to share concerns and prayers.  It was not my intention to share babysitting duties.

20:45 Offspring is still screaming, shouting, wandering, climbing, touching and grabbing things.

20:46 Just like the tabloid investigative reporter, I make my excuses and leave, incisor teeth almost digging into tongue.

Bible study disrupted.  Offspring’s sleep pattern disturbed.  My blood pressure sky-high.  DFSM was content just to sit on the sofa and stare into space.  House group/bible study is meant to be participatory, not passive.  Not dump-your-kid on-“volunteers”-time.

Am I being too harsh?  Too un-Christian?  I checked with two friends of mine.  Even Billy agreed it was not appropriate to bring a 2-year-old to bible study at that time of evening.  Normally he will disagree with me on everything.  B in Oz, a mother of a 2-year-old, also agreed with me.  She said a child of that age should be in bed very latest at 8pm.

If you can’t achieve your aims at bible study (namely to, er study the bible), is there any point in coming?  The evening becomes not fit for purpose.  A Rolls-Royce is a nice luxury car, but it’s not suitable for ploughing a field, like a tractor would be.

Clearly, we do want to help struggling members of congregation, but not at all costs.  Would it therefore be more appropriate for members of congregation to invite DFSM out for a Kaffee und Kuchen one-to-one or to a women’s prayer group that meets daytime?  Can we create a win-win situation for all concerned?  Rant over.

man wearing brown suit jacket mocking on white telephone

Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

Have a care-bearing day, won’t you!

 

One Year On

My Dad, Sunray, passed away died exactly one year ago today, suddenly at 14:00 GMT, while walking back from his local shop.

How time flies.

How was my grieving process?  Actually, IMHO, there wasn’t really one.  I was very matter-of-fact the moment I found out via a Facebook Messenger message from my younger brother.  I was in the office, collating an Excel spreadsheet.  I told my colleague, “My Dad has just died,” in the same way and tone that we would tell a colleague, “Our boss popped in, looking for you.”  I then carried on with my spreadsheet to meet a deadline for our rather unfriendly product owner.

I did pause to send out a Whatsapp round-robin message to Schatz and to church friends to ask for their prayers for Sunray’s soul.  Replies came in from single “prayer” emojis to long, warm messages from members of my house group.  I wasn’t in shock, but I think I was stunned.

I did not cry until I got home.  By then the posts and kinds words and funny stories about him flooded in on his regimental old comrades Facebook page.  Tears of grief ran out of my left eye, and of laughter from the right eye.  It’s what Sunray would have wanted.

That was then.  This is now.

I still feel relieved.  I still do not regret deciding to stay away from his funeral.  In any case I was still not well enough to travel at that time.  Even walking to my local shops and back was a major physical exertion.  I am glad that I visited his grave two months later, said a prayer or two over his grave and placed three daffodils on the broken earth, marking his relatively fresh grave.

I have prayed daily that his is indeed resting in peace and that God will let his infinite mercy shine on Sunray’s face.  Since he died one year ago, several more of his regimental brothers have died.  I pray that they will join him in the Senior Squadron bar to exchange “Do you remember when…?” stories.

HHQvdg.jpg

Sunray in November 1998

Have a poignant day, won’t you!

 

Not a Coincidence – a God-incidence

We often talk about coincidences when it’s a case of being in the right place at the right time.

Let’s wind back to Saturday just gone.

I was feeling tired and almost decided to head directly back home for a power nap, not go shopping, but order pizza for evening meal. Instead, I forced myself to go to the local supermarket en route, mainly because I had a craving for their banana split ice cream.

I went and did my shopping.

I was then proceeding in an easterly direction out of my local Aldi, when I noticed two elderly men near the entrance, one of whom was spitting onto the ground. It turned out he was spitting blood, having had quite a nasty fall.

It turned out that our man spoke hardly a word of German. His mother tongue was, however, Russian, so I was asked to help out while we waited for the ambulance to arrive. I then acted as interpreter between him and the medics, including taking down his medical history. I had forgotten the Russian word for “diabetes”, so I asked him, “Do you have the illness where you have sugar in your blood?”

I explained to him that the paramedics would now take him to the hospital, where they would do a more substantial assessment and get a dentist to stitch up his lip which he had bitten quite badly as he fell.

Job done.  I was exactly where God wanted me to be.

Image result for god-incidence

Have an incidental day, won’t you!

Wait a Minute, it’s the Telephone Man

Those of you who are over 45 may just about remember this cheery little number from Meri Wilson.

In the previous year, Sunray was nicknamed Telephone Man for his part in ensuring that the overall phone bill for the British Army in Northern Ireland was £1 million.  (Regimental legend has it that Sunray was responsible for £900 000 of it.)  Most of the calls were part of the Night Shift Numbers Game, a version of “pin the tail on the donkey”, when bored squaddies on night shift at HMP Maze would get out the phone book, look up random numbers abroad and phone them to ask such innocent questions as:

Is it snowing in Alabama?

It’s a nice clear line, isn’t it?

etc.  (Men are just boys in long trousers. )

Fast-forward to 2018.  It was my birthday three days ago.  That took me back to October 1976, when, as a wee schoolboy at Wolfenbüttel Primary School, I was told to go to the headmaster’s office.

“Oh dear, what have I done wrong?” I thought.  “Was it for shouting at my teacher last week?”

No.  It was Sunray phoning me up from HMP Maze, wishing my happy birthday.  He was obviously taking time out from:

  • Calling his mate, Bryan B, in Australia, to ask how hot it was in Cairns
  • Phoning his sister-in-law in Canada to talk to her about boxing bouts
  • Prank-calling several taxi firms in Birmingham to order two dozen taxis to one pub on the outskirts of the city
  • And much, much more…

Bless his cotton socks, bless his soul.  Quite poignant to think this was the first year when I did not receive a birthday card from him.  This weekend I did think of him as Schatz and I raised our glasses of Sekt to celebrate my birthday.

Have an a-Maze-ing day, won’t you!

My Perfect Cousin

This is not quite a Mach Mal Lauter article.  Nonetheless, those fans of 1970’s Northern Ireland music may remember this number by the The Untertones.

Here’s the chorus:

Oh my perfect cousin
What I like to do he doesn’t
He’s his family’s private joy
His mothers little golden boy

I’ve got a cousin (called Kelly).  She was always My Perfect Cousin, well, at least in the eyes of my own mother.  She’s three years younger than me, one year older than my own sister.

All during my teenage years – when I did not get my teenage kicks – Kelly was the Perfect Cousin.  No need for Facebook in the mid-80’s.  Her mum would tell my mum, who would tell me and my two siblings.

Weekly status reports on Kelly during the first half of the 80’s were as follows.  Drum roll and trumpet fanfare, please…

Kelly:

  • Has won bronze and silver tap dance medals
  • Has won 300, 500 and 700 metre swimming medals
  • Is a member of the town swimming club U-15 first team
  • Is learning piano
  • Has already learnt recorder (fine – then she can play Una Paloma Blanca incessantly)

My mum was always impressed by these achievements and was always mentioning these to me and my brother.

Girls are, of course, better than boys, especially boys who are not testosterone-packed alpha males.

It’s my fault really.  I shouldn’t have been born male, with that horrible set of “working parts” hanging between my legs.  I guess I might have been able to do social activities, whether that be tap dancing, swimming club, boy scouts or music lessons, but Mummy had set aside all the personnel development fund for that on her youngest child.  Quite rightly so.  She was the youngest by several years, cute and, most of all, female.  Her two also-ran children, unfortunate possessors of a penis each, well, too bad, eh.  You can have the scraps from under the table.

On my latest visit to England, I mentioned to my mum that I had un-friended Kelly months ago for constant sharing of pictures of herself hold tubs of whey powder and posting ad nauseum about Day x of the New Me, New Body, New Life diet.

Typical Kelly post:

Deeply disappointed.  Only managed 574 of my target of of 700 press-ups today.  Will have another try this evening.”

puke

My words:

I am not in the slightest bit interested in Kelly, her New Me, New Body, New Life diet regime, her latest love or her tubs of protein powder, her argument with her neighbours.

My mum:

Ah well, she’s moving to Northumberland with her partner in a week’s time.

(Followed by lengthy story about argument with the removals firm and where their pet dog is to be kennelled during the move. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.)

Which part of “I am not in the slightest bit interested…” does she not understand?

Off to the guillotine, where the spectators are waiting for heads to roll.

knitting

Have a perfect day, won’t you!