There they are. Women, men, young, old, white, black, too brown (me) in a semicircle and applaud, united by the feeling of witnessing a small sensation. But it's not exactly the astronauts who have returned from the ISS, and it wasn't even the keynote where the new vegan Carazza was presented.
What sparked the cheers were the first graders, who, after successfully completing their first regular lesson, took the stairs out of the school building towards their trembling relatives.
For a little person, school enrollment is an elementary turning point in life. It is the path to a meritocracy, albeit paved with sweets.
My name is Mickey Beisenherz. In Castrop-Rauxel I am a world star. Elsewhere I have to pay for everything myself. I am a multimedia (single) general store. Author (Extra3, Jungle Camp), presenter (ZDF, NDR, ProSieben, ntv), podcast host ("Apocalypse and Filter Coffee"), occasional cartoonist. There are things that strike me. Sometimes even upset me. And since the impulse control is constantly jammed, they probably have to get out. My religious symbol is the crosshair. The razor blade is my dance floor. And just now it itches in the feet again.
And as if the parents knew what kind of evaluation factory they are sending their little treasures to, they are bluffing. Your bribe is the school cone filled with small gifts, or: the school enrollment party. Did you know that it's now common to celebrate a child's first year at school with a party that you wouldn't even have dared to do on the RBB executive floor?
Nothing achieved yet, but already to be celebrated. It's such a generation thing, isn't it?
It's hard to overlook the fact that everything seems to be heading towards a bubble society in which parents are frantic to keep their loved ones away from any form of hurt or injury. Where, as in curling, every bumpiness is scrubbed out of the child's path, Helene Fischer-esque ecstasy is the logical consequence of school enrollment.
What is good, right and natural today was an exotic-looking twist in 1983: the father comes along to give the i-male the first escort. Grotesque!
Everyone from my generation has the same yellow-tinged photo: striped socks, funny trousers and a cropped haircut, which nowadays you only dare to do if you work as a cheeky features editor on breakfast television. Next to it is the board, on which all the dates that mark entry into the deceptively alluring system are once again very clearly written. Today it says: 1a, 08/11/2022.
The child smiles proudly. It knows that it has taken a giant step into the adult world here. What they don't know yet is that in a few unlucky years they will be exposed to inept, frustrated or simply missing teachers with insufficient material. Terribly conveyed material, a non-stop permanent evaluation by teachers (bad) and classmates (much worse) and the schoolyard tribalism, which we no longer mentally escape as long as we live.
But since girls are known to be a little less goofy than boys, it might turn out very differently, and she's pretty casual about it.
And the parents?
Hardly after the jubilation has subsided and they have chauffeured their precious child home in the cargo bike, they realize: you can no longer simply drop off and pick up the school-age brat as you please, no: now you have to take a good vacation during the holiday season. Just like all the other nagged jerks.