I was WhatsApping an Exberliner colleague/friend as I walked along Friedrichstaße, my kid dawdling behind me, trying to get out of going to the launch party of the (brilliantly brilliant, featuring two profiles written by moi) Wedding issue, as it WAS a kita night, while simultaneously trying to avoid disapproving granny glares (grannies hate it when they see mothers on their phone with their kids dawdling behind them, I think it reminds them of how boring parenting was before mobile phones were invented, like they literally get triggered) when said colleague sent me the following, horrifically horrific voice clip: “JACINTA! You don’t want to become the kind of German mother whose kid goes to bed at seven in the evening do you? Just hop in a taxi! The €9 ticket days are over, we’re allowed to get in taxis again now!”
“JACINTA! You don’t want to become the kind of German mother whose kid goes to bed at seven in the evening do you?
I am nothing if not easily influenced by people’s opinions of me, so what could I do? The thought of being a 7pm-bedtime-kind-of-mum fills me with dread. I literally had no choice. My beautiful five-year-old and I hot-footed it into our nearest MaccyD’s, bought him a Happy Meal, or as he calls them “a McDonald’s Box with salt on the fries” and hopped in a taxi.
“Where are you going?” The taxi driver asked.
“It’s an Eckkneipe,” I said. “But I think it’s like an ironic Eckkneipe? Soldiner Eck.”
“Soldiner Eck,” he said slowly. “Never heard of it. There’s a party there?”
The taxi was huge and I felt like Cristiano Ronaldo or someone. It must be really good for your self-esteem, travelling places via limo, because being in a big van-taxi is pretty exciting in my book.
But my high Ronaldo-esque self-esteem was being offset by my slight paranoia that the taxi driver thought I was a Rabenmutter. I can get slightly paranoid about taxi drivers thinking I am a Rabenmutter, and I don’t know if paranoid is the right word for it? Because they blatantly do. Is it paranoia, if you’re right? But was I doing anything that terrible? Happy Meal, 7pm, taxi, Eckkneipe. Remember how Katie Holmes used to take her kid to the cinema at midnight dressed like a princess? We weren’t going that far.
The taxi was huge and I felt like Cristiano Ronaldo or someone.
“Can I eat my McDonald’s Box now?” My kid whispered to me.
“No,” I whispered back. “You’re not allowed to eat McDonald’s in a taxi.”
“We did in Portugal,” he whispered back.
“Well, I must have been drunk,” I whispered back.
Suddenly I remembered you don’t have to whisper in taxis. Loudly, I said: “We are going to a PARTY. For a MAGAZINE. Mummy writes for a magazine. And when magazines get published, they have NICE LAUNCH PARTIES. OTHER KIDS WILL BE THERE. And we will just be there for half an hour, and then we will GO HOME. Because TOMORROW it’s KITA.” I didn’t look at the taxi driver, so I couldn’t see if he was taking the hint or not.
But imagine my shock, and horror, and all those kind of negative emotions, when, after a few minutes of sitting outside the Eckkneipe, oohing and ahhing over what a deliciously gorgeous Exberliner we’d made, and only ignoring my son a tiny bit, the riot police suddenly arrived and we had to hide inside the Eckkneipe.
I am going to be honest: I was genuinely, genuinely petrified. I make jokes about white Germans exaggerating what dangerous ghettoes Neukölln and Wedding are ALL THE TIME. But whenever I am actually near any actual danger or violence, my laughter turns to pure fear.
If I was a 7pm kind of German mum my son wouldn’t have had to hide in an Eckkneipe while big police with big guns raided a building next door.
We hid inside the Eckkneipe, my son playing video games on my phone and honestly, that kid has never looked so beautiful. Plastic cheeks, plasticine mouth, porcelain face. He isn’t completely human, but 100% angel. When the cops finally said we could go, I grabbed his hand and ran to Pankstraße as fast as my legs could carry me. I didn’t even find out what it had all been about until the next morning – a gang shooting, basically. Genuinely fucking terrifying.
“Was it scary when the police arrived?” I asked him.
“Were police there?” He asked.
“Didn’t you see them?” I said. “Big police with big guns.”
“I was playing my video game,” he said. “I didn’t see them. I wish I had. I love big police and big guns.”
“I’m glad you didn’t see them,” I said. I was thinking about the time my parents took me to a poll tax demo, only it turned into a riot. Me, my mum, my stepdad, my little sister, hiding in a sandwich shop, under the counter. The guy who owned the shop locking the door. It wasn’t my parents’ fault. You never know if a demo is going to turn into a riot or not, and we have to protest shit.
Still, though. If I was a 7pm kind of German mum my son wouldn’t have had to hide in an Eckkneipe while big police with big guns raided a building next door. And today I can’t help half-wishing I was one!