It's 4:00. I will have a phone meeting at 5:00 and want to make sure I get outside since I've been inside the whole day other than hanging my laundry up to dry (very European thing to do). It's not just that I like to get daily exercise and fresh air, but I hear that the nice weather will change tomorrow; which makes the pleasant thought more of a priority. So, I hop up and head out to the fields.
|The slide is what first caught my eye :)|
As I'm on my way, admiring the new playground that's been installed since I left in April, I see a young girl of about 8 or 9 approaching. I can tell she's going to speak to me, so I slow down. Then she asks me a question that I'm sure I should be able to understand. She's a child after all; but all I can muster is "Bitte?" (Excuse me, as in "could you repeat that, please?"). So, she repeats the question which really doesn't give me any more clues. I'm pretty sure she's asking if I'm the new so-and-so at the school or somewhere. Perhaps it would be more humble or honest to tell her I don't understand, but implicit to living in foreign places comes a high tolerance for ambiguity.
Picking up that it's a yes/no question, I give her a warm smile and say "Nein" (no). (After all, I'm not the new anyone that she would know of). Then she proceeds to explain why she's asking me the question. Since I'm not quite ready to give away that she can speak better (German) than the lady she presumably thinks to be a teacher, I simply smile and slightly nod my head to the side; it's my way to nonverbally communicate that I really am listening and care what she has to say even though I'm not using words to answer her.
As I walk away, I realize that the children's book I picked up from the box of free books outside of the library yesterday was a good move as I'll clearly need to increase my efforts to incorporate practicing German into my daily routine along with the French. Then maybe if I run into this social little girl again, I can rise up to her reasonable expectations and actually have a conversation with her!