Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Handcrafting, Hedgehogs and German Political Correctness

 


First frost at night - a good time to start the crafting-season with the triplets

(In German we use the term "basteln", making little things out of chestnuts, wool or Plasticine - which word do you use? The word "tinker" sounds a bit condescending to me) 

When my son was small, in Kindergarten "basteln" was looked at with the same disdain as measles - we had to do it secretly behind closed doors at home, the same applied to singing beautiful old German Lieder, these songs were replaced by malappropriate "songs" like "Hollebolleplumpaquatsch" which in the ears of the Kindergarteners sounded wildly modern. 

Kindergarteners - honestly! no joke! - you must in Germany now denominate always, always in every line of your text !!  as "Kindergärtner*Innen", to avoid discrimination of the three genders - no joke!!!  

(I do not know what will happen if the German political-correctness-language-police reads this  - this is still a secret job 😂, done by many ranting politicians - sorry: Politiker*Innen - and their supporters, so I might better not use it in my blog but mumble behind closed doors secretly - or sing (piano!) the beautiful old German Lied "Thoughts are Free" in the 1842 version of August Heinrich Hoffman von Fallersleben, - and replace Asterix's "These Romans are crazy!" with "These Germans are crazy!" - but the language police is not good at handling humour... ) 

Back to the roots: yesterday was the first day the triplets did "handcraft". They are now exactly 2 years and 9 days old - and I was astonished (as all proud Grandmothers and parents are 😀), how well they did it. 

Of course I had prepared a technical instruction: 



We handcrafted a hedgehog (or, to be precise: two). 

The funny thing is: one triplet calls herself "Igel" - meaning: hedgehog - because from birth on she had so many long dark hair spikes that everyone cried "Igel!" who saw her. And I was puzzled when she reacted a bit strange when first I called her by her beautiful Royal English Victorian name (guess - my mouth must be shut). Then I found out, that this name is only used when she is given a warning by her parents - otherwise it is admiring "Igel". 

The triplets loved to build those animals, precise and eagerly - and just in time I could save one date - halved and used as snouts, and 4 raisins for the eyes - the rest was quickly munched away. And they admired their very fine work - but the best came later: "Hamm, Hamm!" in German children language: "Eat up! Eat up!" - apple and dates. 

21 comments:

  1. The three gender P.C. business is becoming very worrying in English universities. The students try to get teachers sacked if they express any opinions regarding the biological differences between men, women and trans people. It has turned into a witch hunat and reminds me of the early days of the Cultural Revolution in China, with students denouncing their teachers every day.

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    1. Yes, Tom, I heard that England and the USA have a lot of troubles in the gender question too, and I heard that there is a tendency to interfere with old texts too. But does it go so far that every day you have to read all those words as butcher*ess, driver*ess or gentleman*woman?
      It makes texts very complicated for the eye. Till now - depending on the newspaper - Journalist*Innen are free to do that or not - most do!! - and in TV it is really funny to hear how speaker*esses try to pronounce the asterisk: often they imply it with a little pause between "butcher ----- esse".

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  2. The saddest thing about making children computer-literate early is that they won't get any pleasure from reading books, writing with their own hands and creative activities. Your triplets, although very young, had a fun time AND they created objects that impressed everyone.

    Well done, Oma :)

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    1. Dear Helen, I agree with you that writing with one own hands is very, very valuable (I read an article about how the difficult characters of Japan's script are influencing intelligence).
      And I believe in a sensuous world, haptic perception is as important as learning by heart (and not only by Google :-).

      To find out that one is able to make something with one's own hands (and later imagination) instead of buying it is very invigorating, I believe.

      And when one reads the mind is creating the images, not a movie (thus I prefer to read a book before I see a movie, though of course - as in most questions - I am not strict to myself - fun is a factor too)

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  3. Yes, as Tom said, it is all very worrying. As for the name we give to making things like you did with the triplets, we would say model making. I note from many bloggers these days they often refer to crafting but this is not a word I would use for children making things as the triplets were doing with you. Tinkering in English gnerally means fiddling around with something, to tinker, and not exactly making a model from scratch, maybe to tinker with something already in existence and not terribly seriously, a little casually. I hope you are wlll Britta and I enjoyed your photos of Berlin. I have just been looking through some of mine that I had forgotten about. xx




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    1. Dear Rachel, thank you so much for your explanations!

      "Model making" is convincing. In Germany we use it for creating models of planes or other more technical objects - here I would appreciate more model maker*esses! It still is a domain of the boys.
      I thought too that crafting is more artistically orientated - and tinker reminded me of "Tinkers", and I do not know about P.C. there.

      Berlin is still waiting! xxx

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  4. Crafts with children is so much fun. The hedgehogs are new to me. They are great and I will use them. Thank you.

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    1. Dear Emma, we had a lot of fun, and with so little expenditure! Originally a book suggested using a sieve instead of an apple - but I imagined that an apple is nicer and more sensuous.
      Have fun with your grandchildren doing it!

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  5. In the US, creating adorable hedgehogs with your triplets would be called an arts and crafts project. The girls must have loved the creativity involved in seeing their own little creature come together. PC is a problem everywhere, it must be a sign of the times.

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    1. Dear Susan, thank you! I was hesitating because I thought of the "Arts and Craft movement" - and to arrive there it will be a very, very long way - though, if I use an old chestnut instead of a fresh apple maybe I am allowed to quote "A long journey starts with the first single step" :-)
      Yes, PC is definitely a problem of the times, but I am not inclined to give up everything I burn for - neither my love for aesthetics in literature and language nor in the usefulness and beauty of using one's own hands (and mind, come to think of it).

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  6. Oh dear, I will leave you to resolve the gender and execution problem on your own. I have a transgender person who is very liberal about his pronouns and what more could I ask.
    I do love the hedgehogs, especially their edible quality.

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    1. Dear Joanne, I have found a solution of my own: I have heterosexual friends, gay friends and bi-friends (never met a transgender person though). And individually I discuss sex with them, and also some very baffling problems that might arise: my friend Gloria has a girl friend who was operated to become a man. Then she wanted a child - and was able to get that in her womb. And then even in liberal Berlin she had a problem: she wanted to be registered as the Father - but public authority insisted (in Berlin!) on "Mother". Now she is giving the Court and lawyers something to do.

      The dates, raisins and cut apple were delicious! (The triplets did not insist on the artists right that nobody is allowed to interfere with a piece of art)

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  7. I like a blog with technical instructions and your hedgehog is something that transcends linguistic differences very nicely. I'll tackle this one later :)

    I'm trying to remember what this crafty stuff was called when I was a kid, being a child of the 70s when macrame, tie-dying and potato stamping was a solemn part of the school curriculum, but I can't be sure it wasn't just called Making Craft. Anyways, it was the source if all gifts for grandparents for children who never received pocket-money, so prepare to teach the girls what you would one day like to receive!

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    1. Dear Pipistrello, how wise to tackle a subject with so many prices and spikes later! :-)

      Oh - macrame - can you imagine that this (in my eyes rightly dead art) is a "Wiedergänger": as a revenant it crowds now furniture shops and life style magazines - together with ABBA comes a revival of those "interesting" hanging macrame baskets...

      AND you made me think very hard about the consequences of too much crafting... I found a solution here too: definitely I will train them (ha - do I hear a big outcry from Summerhill??) to make/ craft filled chocolates.
      We might start with easy puddings and then slowly move on - edible gifts are most always a delight!

      (Re-reading the chapter in Mapp & Lucia about "humour in furniture", I think Georgie might warn: Beware of marble pears that look deceptively real)

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  8. Brilliant Britta ..... you are a lovely Grandmother and they will love you for it. I think we used to say that we were going to do some crafting or art ? Can't really remember if there was even a particular word for it ? I just know that I loved doing it !!!! XXXX

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    1. Dear Jackie - thank you for that compliment, and they are lovely.
      I am glad to find in you a person who shares the enthusiasm for crafting - and I think later it might become a passion for gardening, and/or creating so lovely projects in /on your house, stencilling, drawing and so on - "basteln" as a first step to creativity, and learning to use your hands AND imagination. XXXX

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    2. I think on our school timetable it was referred to as art and sometimes we would make things and sometimes we would paint!xxx

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  9. As a white man of retirement age I have come to the conclusion that my very existence is offensive.

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    1. Oh Tasker, if I would not know by now that you have a very fine special Humour I would start a lecture about "changing one's view" - but as I know you laugh about those condemning idiots who believe that Truth is theirs and drafted in simple Black and White (oh, sorry, did I offend somebody?) I go and fetch me a cup of tea instead :-)

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