Crossing the street

As I was dropping B off at school today, one of his teachers was helping to wrangle some of the 5 year olds for a field trip (something to do with school next year, so only the oldest kids were involved).  I said hello, got B’s coat off and waited while he changed his shoes, walked him to class, gave him a hug and kiss and headed to catch the bus to go home.

While I was waiting for my bus, the teachers and kids from B’s school came along.  They walked along the sidewalk, about 14 kids and 3 teachers.  This is a common sight in Austria — kids out on field trips or walks to the parks, bundled into coats, hats and mittens, lined up two-by-two, holding hands and flanked by teachers.  It is very sweet.

In order to catch the bus going the other way, they all had to cross the street, and I watched with interest, because, on a different day, it might have been my child crossing the road without me.

The first teacher stopped the line, carefully looked both ways for cars, and stepped out into the crosswalk.  She walked halfway across, and stopped, facing the lane of traffic (no cars were coming).  Another teacher waited with the kids while the third joined the first, but on the opposite side of the crosswalk and facing the other direction of traffic.  They held their arms out, creating a bridge for the kids across the road while the third teacher herded them across.

When they reached the other side, the kids gathered and waited while the teachers caught up, collected hands, got the kids back in line and set off again.  They moved quickly and efficiently without much discussion or any indecision.  It’s obvious that they’ve all done this before.

The way they handled it — carefully and seriously but without extra stress — was incredibly comforting, and the way the teachers stood in the road, watching everything and blocking the cars, was so caring and protective that it brought tears to my eyes.

They were so focused that they didn’t see me until they’d crossed to the other side of the street and made it to the bus stop opposite from where I was standing.  It was a pleasant surprise to see something so comforting and confidence inspiring as I spied on them a little.  I am really happy by the level of care and attention that I saw, and the next time B is out with his class, I might worry a little less.  (But still, only a little.)

4 thoughts on “Crossing the street

  1. Thank you for your blog. We are moving there from Canada in January for my husband to work for the IAEA. We have two young girls (3 and 5 years old). Your blog has reassured me about life there with kids.

    • I’m so glad you found this — I’m glad it’s been of help. Feel free to ask any questions at all that you have — I’ll answer them as best as I can. I’ve been there, I know it can be kind of overwhelming and I know I got to a point where I didn’t even know what questions to ask. Also, once you get here, let me know if you need anything. The first little while can be pretty daunting, and if it helps to have someone to ask things of, please feel free! (Also, I wonder if our husbands will meet each other at work!) 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for the offer of help! I may take you up on that 🙂
    One thing I was wondering which school you chose for your oldest. I’m currently trying to figure out what to do with my two for school. I’m leaning towards trying to get them both (age 3 and 5) into a German kindergarten (what we would call preschool) since they are at that critical age for acquiring a new language. We arrive in January and I’m counting on it taking a while to get spaces at a school. Any recommendations or advice on preschools? I’ve been to Vienna twice (only once with a kid in tow) and my husband has been there about 10 times so we have some familiarity with the city. However, we are expecting that actually living there will be a whole different ball game! Feel free to email me (I think you get my email address when I post a comment) if you prefer that to discussion via your comments section.

    • I just sent a longer reply via email, but for anyone else who is wondering, I definitely recommend the state-run German language preschools. They’re a great introduction to the language and the culture. There are all kind of traditions and customs that we have only encountered because of B being in school, and he’s in a complete immersion program, so he’s learning the language the very best way possible. That being said, the transition was hard for him, coming so soon after our move, and ALSO being in a foreign language. It was a lot at once.

      We applied to kindergartens before we arrived in Vienna, but if I had it to do over again, I would have waited until we got here. Because we didn’t know where we’d be living, we applied to schools close to my husband’s work. And, although that’s nice, it means that not only does my husband have a 30 minute commute each way to work each day, I also have a 35-40 minute commute each way with Benjamin to and from school. I don’t think it’s worth the little bit of time we gained in getting him in to school — I think it would have been better to get him in somewhere close to where we’re living now.

Leave a Reply