Monday, January 21, 2008

School children vs. Dogs

If the school children here are any indication of where humanity is headed then I'm not certain I want to add to the mess. I know I am old-fashioned from time to time, but the children here (obviously everyone else's children, with a few exceptions) are a bit of a nightmare.

Perhaps it was because I was out at 1 pm. At all costs, avoid the subways at 1pm on a school day, unless you really want to torture yourself.

Initially when I moved to Frankfurt and then Munich, I saw everything as wonderful. I noticed small children out riding the subway alone, or walking down the street. All of those terrible ideas about pedophiles and kidnappers would run through my mind and I would wonder how parents weren't more cautious. Then I was constantly reassured that the city is very safe and children learn from a young age how to navigate the subway. Wow! This is great I thought.

In Frankfurt, there were children painting in their art class at this park I would walk through. I loved the idea of children being able to watercolor by the pond. As creepy as it sounds, I even took several photos (the inner art teacher in me was delighted to see something so sweet). They were in elementary school, but well behaved enough... no one ended up in the pond and they weren't obnoxiously loud. I think a few had a great time pouring their dirty paint water into the trash and watching it pour out, but they were fun to observe.

Over time I have discovered things change. Children having half their day free to run amuck is a horrible idea. If you happen to decide you'd like to efficiently travel through the city on the subway be prepared to have your ears ringing from the noise. When do middle schoolers learn you have to scream and yell, particularly in closed in places? That was my afternoon today.

I know children and teenagers are sometimes reckless and feel immortal. This was proven once again. There were kids riding the banisters of the escalators as if they were a slide, others were throwing things belonging to their friends onto escalators going the opposite direction and jumping over to get them. A scarf and a hat came in front of me and the kids looked at me to toss them back. I simply shrugged. And what did the rest of the people do? They merely sat and watched or laughed. Maybe they missed the days of their youth when they lived with reckless abandon.

This kids ruling the world phenomenon really has me shocked. I realized long ago it wasn't only in America, but it is just ridiculous. I have a friend who is a tour guide at Dachau and he has also had to reprimand school kids, who aren't even with his group.

I'm not certain where the disconnect is, because people have better behaved dogs here. There are several dogs in my neighborhood that are fixtures to their owner's shops. I love walking past and seeing them lay on the sidewalk or in the doorway. I have never seen so many dogs walking off a leash and still obeying their owner as I have here. Granted, I live here, so I see that often - but it really doesn't get old. I even find myself going towards the person with the dog while on the subway platform, straßenbahn, or bus, because I like watching the dogs and being near them. If there are school children around I think I'd rather walk or take the opposite end of whatever transport.

I can think of Charlie + Harry to remember how great children are... even if mine won't have the British accent.

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