So, it’s not always easy, being the mother of a German kid, especially if the German kid in question is a right smug little bastard.
I was at the till in Kaiser’s recently, checking out the Weetabix situation. They’d run out of Weetabix and whenever there’s no Weetabix in Kaiser’s I have this paranoid fantasy that they’re going to discontinue it. So I was all, like, communicating with the checkout chick about the return of the Weetabix, and I was doing okay, you know. She wasn’t grimacing, she was just nodding politely and reassuring me that there’d be more Weetabix on the shelves any day soon.
“Na, gut,“ I said. “Das Weetabix ist also nicht aus dem Sortiment genommen worden. Gut zu wissen.” My son suddenly spoke up.
“Weist du was?” he said to the checkout girl. “Wenn meine Mama Deutsch spricht, gibt sie sich wirklich viel Mühe. Sie kann einfach die Wörter nicht richtig sagen, aber sie gibt sich wirklich viel Mühe.”
Everyone in the queue started laughing. I mean, Germans don’t laugh like that in public. In front of strangers. In a queue at Kaiser’s. My son – and my Mühe with the German language – had achieved the impossible.
Still, it must be even more annoying, to be the German kid of a British mum. Don’t you think? I mean, the Germans only find us funny when we try to speak their language. Whereas we laugh at them ALL OF THE TIME. The week after Lena’s Eurovision win, I had some British friends over for dinner, and we were discussing the Germans’ collective modesty.
“They’re being really modest about it, don’t you think?” I said. “Imagine if England had won. We wouldn’t never hear the end of it!”
“I think they’re just BEING modest,” my friend said.
“I don’t think so,” I replied. “I think the Germans are just, deep down, an essentially modest people. They’re modest on a personal and national level. They just are modest.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” my other friend said. “They are totally modest.”
My son came bursting into the kitchen at that, like an indignant knight. “Mum!” He shouted. “If you think the Germans are modest, then you must think I, too am modest, because I am a Germany boy! So don’t ever say that about the Germans again, okay!”
I scoffed dismissively. “You don’t even know what the word ‘modest’ means, Rico,” I said.
“I do too know what it means,” he protested. “It means when you want to kill all the people.”
I felt really bad about that, honestly I did. I held Rico in my arms and whispered to him, lovingly, reassuringly, motheringly: “Rico, I do not think you want to kill all the people.” He ran out the kitchen. My friend laughed. “‘We don’t think you want to kill all the people.’ Hey, Jacinta,” she said. She paused for a second. “Just the Jews, the disabled, the gypsies and the mentally ill…”
What’s the moral of this story? Well, I guess that no German will ever be considered too young to be the subject of a good Nazi joke. And no Brit will ever be too mature to make one. And, most importantly of all, you can get Weetabix in Kaiser’s. Hopefully all those British shops won’t go out of business.