Germans Love Babies, Part III

What would you give up for a year off work to raise your children? What would you be like when you returned? German parents face this question with every trip to the maternity ward, and their answers are more complicated than you might think.

Germans Love Babies, Part II

The playgrounds here in Munich have huge forts, gigantic spider-web rope nets, tunnels through hills, and at one near my apartment, the most amazing merry-go-round. It takes ten children working in concert to operate it properly. It is small, about six feet, in diameter. Four children jump into the middle to turn it by pushing on spokes leading from the central pillar to the outside platform. The six riders stand on the outside platform and reach up to hold onto a bar above their heads for stability. Because of the small diameter relative to the force four children can exert when excited by chocolate and beautiful spring weather, the thing spins fast. Very fast. The children scream excitedly as it speeds up, and then, laughing maniacally, the bolder children kick their legs out and hold on with only their hands to the top ring. Their legs fly out and they are spinning horizontally, staring at the ground or the sky, according to their preference, feeling the pure joy available only to children who have no knowledge of health insurance premiums, or personal injury laywers.

Germans Love Babies, Part I

Germans love babies. They really do. Every single one of them. Whenever I take Ella on the train, around a park, to the mall, to the museum, to the bakery, anywhere, everyone loves her. They smile, they make faces, they cluck. They actually cluck. Not like a chicken, but a snap of the tongue from the roof of your mouth to the bottom, with your lips in an “O” shape. It’s the sound you make to simulate a clock, except it’s not a “tock”–it’s a “lock”, with a hard pop on the “L”.