Today we kept Thing1 out of Kita to spend the day speaking in English. Tomorrow is her English test and we are pretty certain that she is going to fail it.
This entire situation has been a bit of a cluster. When we came to Germany, we were greatly concerned that the girls' lack of German would cause them social problems (and loneliness). After much discussion and speaking to a pediatrician, we put them in a German Kita so that they could learn German and socialize (and so that I could take a German course as well). The German made a point of speaking only Deutsche to the children. When Thing1 had her 5 year check up in July, the pediatrician was concerned that she was still behind with her German and had problems with some vowels.
Now, in November (actually since August, when they spent a week with the grandparents) Thing1 preferentially speaks German and she has lost her "th". I have great difficulty getting her to speak any English (although she still understands everything) and Thing2 is mutter sprache Deutsche. This is a problem because my German is so limited.
It is also a problem because the bi-lingual schools here accept on the Engish and German mothertongue sides differently: there is no problem for English mothertongue speakers and a great oversubscription (and consequent lottery) on the German mothertongue side. If Thing1 fails the test, I am not certain that we can get her into a bilingual school and that would be a catastrophe. We do expect to return to the US and there are really no paths to German integration into the US school system. Since she will already be one year behind the US (children start later here), I can't imagine how damaged she will be if she loses more time to become English fluent when we go back. When I am not so tired, I will write up a long post on how this system works and how totally messed up foreigners are by it.
So we booked lunch at the Reichstag, following the recommendation that doing so would allow us to bypass the security line (which it did- we had no line at all at our separate entrance and the friendly security man allowed Thing1 to use the bathroom while we waited for the (extremely slow) elevator).
We ate at the Kaefer Berlin im Deutscher Bundestag, and as this article states, had a fabulous view. I found the food to be adequate and the German pointed out that we were the only diners not to order the veal Schnitzel. My beef rouladen with knoedel and rotkohl was decent, the German's Venison with noodles and "cranberries" was too salty (though he ate it) and so was Thing 1's Noodles with red sauce (on the side), which she did not eat. Hard to believe anything could be too salty for me, but I gave Thing1 some of my rouladen to eat instead. We had a nice pate of deer with salad as a starter and for dessert Thing1 had a Disney Eis (a Donald Duck mug filled with strawberry and vanilla ice cream, two waffle cookies, and two decorative streamers) which she loved. The German and I shared a creme brulee, served in a high cup and a little too sweet and a little too liquid, but arranged nicely on a plate with some streaks of passionfruit and mango puree.
Then we wandered through the dome. It's just gorgeous.
After letting Thing1 run about (it was more fun than the Habitrail Gem exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in New York) we had to run to get home before Thing2 got back from school. We grabbed the 100 to the Zoo and then a cab home and made it with 6 minutes to spare.
Then I ran off to go shopping (it's at least every other day here) and when I got back the German went to his scheduled haircut. When he got back, he grabbed the two computers with destroyed power cords (remember, we had 3 but the Mac was under warranty) and brought them to the corner computer shop, where he picked up an adaptable power cord (clearly, we expect this to happen again).
A bit of a struggle later, the girls in bed, we return to deal with open enrollment periods that don't allow access from German work computers: I don't know when we will ever be able to send the one from the US back!
Tomorrow, the test.