Annnnnnnnnnnnnd summer is officially over. Dane started school this week too, later than all the rest. Our state, Baden-Württemberg, is the last state to start summer break and therefore the last state to return to school in the Fall. Germany staggers school vacations so not all 16 states are on break at the exact same time. Ostensibly this is to prevent overload on her roads, airports & rail systems. In reality, that overload still totally happens.

This year Dane moved from the grundschule (elementary school) to the Gemeinschaftsschule. Germany has 3 different levels of high school, with different study programs and length. The Gemeinschaftsshule is a combination of the two lower levels and a slightly different way of learning. It is ideal for Dane because it gives him extra help in German, while allowing him to choose accelerated classes for math and science.

On Tuesday we had our new school orientation. The town hall is adjacent to the school, and all the new students, parents, siblings, grandparents filled it to capacity. Einschulung, though a much bigger deal for first graders, is still a big deal for incoming 5th graders. Germany only has a lower and upper school system, no middle school, so Einschulung only happens twice.

While the 5th graders don’t get the beloved Schultüten (Schultute, Dane’s in First Grade), they are still the center of attention & it’s a very big deal to start at the big school. The high school. Maybe they don’t call it high school, but that’s what it is.

Since I still can’t drive, most days I can’t even sit up in the wheelchair, Cole drove Dane & I to orientation. When I saw all the other kids show up with both parents, and grandparents, I was relieved that it wasn’t just me but Cole too. Dane had some extended family too! Sometimes the little things, like no grandparents on the first day of school, can feel very overwhelming.

The school orchestra was up on stage and played a wonderful opening number. I have no idea what it was. Then we were all welcomed & introduced to the administration. Then the orchestra played “Havana”. I felt Dane relax a little next to me. Something familiar. This might be okay. More talking. And then… the orchestra played “The Final Countdown” by Europe.

Dane relaxed. I could see him dancing a little out of the corner of my eye, and suddenly he was singing along. I had a happy Dane! A Dane ready for school. Ready for High School. It’s amazing what music can do.

Now if only I was ready for my 11-year-old to be in High School.