Step 67: Respect the Educational Superiority of Wood

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Coming soon! Shaped Wooden Thingy! A must buy for Germans everywhere. Illustration by Robert M. Schöne.
Coming soon! Shaped Wooden Thingy! A must buy for Germans everywhere. Illustration by Robert M. Schöne.

My first niece, Isabel, is born. I am very excited. Annett and I travel for forty-five minutes all the way across to the other side of Berlin to go to some special, giant Kinderladen that Annett has researched (because specialism trumps generalism). It is one of those awful places that primarily market themselves on their size, and are called something like Kiddie Wonder Oasis Paradise 24 Land Xtra. Where there are nine aisles devoted to hand puppets. After scouring just a few percent of it, I decide on the all singing, all dancing KIDDIE ACTIVITY CENTER 3000. It’s huge and heavy, and I awkwardly shuffle with it towards the Kasse. I’m going to be one hell of an uncle.

Annett stops me as I pass the Look, Everything’s Made of Wood aisle.

“Is that some kind of Russian space station?” she asks, eyeing the Kiddie Activity Center 3000. I give her a quick tour of its multiple functions: “Lights, music, and here’s a little book on an elastic cord with different textures on each page. This thing is pretty much Kiddie Crack, I reckon.” She reaches out and pushes one of the buttons—music plays, lights flash in sequence, and a horn sounds. Her face scrunches up in disgust. “It’s plastic. Cheap, nasty plastic. Why not get something like this?” she asks, picking up some simple wooden building blocks. She taps them, theatrically. “Wood, see?”

No music plays, no lights flash in sequence, no horn sounds. I see, but I’m far from impressed. “But it doesn’t do anything!”

“Simple building blocks like this encourage imagination and practical skills. Don’t you want your niece to grow up to be an architect or an engineer?”

“Of course, but the Kiddie Activity Center 3000 will help her do that, it’s much more stimulating for her little yet undoubtedly brilliant mind.”

Annett exhales loudly. “No, that sort of junk will make her grow up to have a job like … well… you.”

I put the Kiddie Activity Center 3000 down on the floor, assuming I’ll need both hands to strangle her. “What do you mean, have a job like me?! What’s wrong with my job?!”

She turns her back and begins stacking the demo blocks into what I think will become a bridge. Her voice quietens. “Well, it’s sort of not really, isn’t it? What you have is a hobby that’s gotten out of control.”

“—”

“You know those people you see sometimes at the traffic lights, juggling?”

“—”

“You’re basically one of those + jokes.”

“—”

Is that what you want for your niece? Or do you want her building bridges and solving cancer?”

“But…I…”

Tap, tap.

“Like from a tree, see?”

OUR BOOKS

3dcover
spiegel-bestseller

Required reading for all Ausländer and Germans who sometimes have the feeling they don’t understand their own country. We learn why the Germans speak so freely about sex, why they are so obsessed with Spiegel Online and why they all dream of being naked in a lake of Apfelsaftschorle. At the end, the only thing left to say to Adam Fletcher’s love letter to Germany is “Alles klar!” More than 100k copies sold!

Released: 2013   Length: 192 pages  Languages: EN/DE  Publisher: C.H. Beck Illustrator: Robert M. Schöne

book_deu_small
spiegel-bestseller

An illustrated love letter to the language of our adopted home. Join us as we take you on a tour through some of the German language’s greatest words, expressions, proverbs and language possibilities, all wrapped up for international delivery in the form of Denglisch!

Released:  2014    Length:  240 pages       Languages:  EN/DE     Publisher: Ullstein   Co-Author: Paul Hawkins    Illustrator: Robert M. Schöne

After two best-selling books I find I’ve become somewhat of a pundit for German life. Unsure about my position I take on a series of integration challenges. Readers will learn:

  • What happens when someone of no musical talent creates a Schlager song.
  • Why you shouldn’t accept a ride from a Mitfahrgelegenheitvan containing a mattress and a cat with one eye.
  • What watching seventy hours of German TV in a week does to your health.
  • Why you shouldn’t attend a Schützenfest if you can neither drink nor march.

Released: 2015  Length: 400 pages  Languages: EN/DE Publisher: Ullstein.

Fifty new and advanced integration steps that explain the sticky friendship glue of Kaffee und Kuchen, the educational superiority of wood, and the rituals of the German Weihnachtsmarkt. You’ll learn how to blame the weather for most of your ailments, how to survive a visit to your local Baumarkt, why Germans take their kitchen when they move, and why you keep losing to them at table football. Adam Fletcher’s book is the ultimate, irreverent love letter to a nation that has gotten so under his skin.

Released: 2016  Length: 192 pages  Languages: EN/DE  Publisher: C.H. Beck Illustrator: Robert M. Schöne

OUR BOOKS

3dcover
spiegel-bestseller

Required reading for all Ausländer and Germans who sometimes have the feeling they don’t understand their own country. We learn why the Germans speak so freely about sex, why they are so obsessed with Spiegel Online and why they all dream of being naked in a lake of Apfelsaftschorle. At the end, the only thing left to say to Adam Fletcher’s love letter to Germany is “Alles klar!” More than 100k copies sold!

Released: 2013   Length: 192 pages  Languages: EN/DE  Publisher: C.H. Beck Illustrator: Robert M. Schöne

book_deu_small
spiegel-bestseller

An illustrated love letter to the language of our adopted home. Join us as we take you on a tour through some of the German language’s greatest words, expressions, proverbs and language possibilities, all wrapped up for international delivery in the form of Denglisch!

Released:  2014    Length:  240 pages       Languages:  EN/DE     Publisher: Ullstein   Co-Author: Paul Hawkins    Illustrator: Robert M. Schöne

After two best-selling books I find I’ve become somewhat of a pundit for German life. Unsure about my position I take on a series of integration challenges. Readers will learn:

  • What happens when someone of no musical talent creates a Schlager song.
  • Why you shouldn’t accept a ride from a Mitfahrgelegenheitvan containing a mattress and a cat with one eye.
  • What watching seventy hours of German TV in a week does to your health.
  • Why you shouldn’t attend a Schützenfest if you can neither drink nor march.

Released: 2015  Length: 400 pages  Languages: EN/DE Publisher: Ullstein.

Fifty new and advanced integration steps that explain the sticky friendship glue of Kaffee und Kuchen, the educational superiority of wood, and the rituals of the German Weihnachtsmarkt. You’ll learn how to blame the weather for most of your ailments, how to survive a visit to your local Baumarkt, why Germans take their kitchen when they move, and why you keep losing to them at table football. Adam Fletcher’s book is the ultimate, irreverent love letter to a nation that has gotten so under his skin.

Released: 2016  Length: 192 pages  Languages: EN/DE  Publisher: C.H. Beck Illustrator: Robert M. Schöne

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