Every evening just before 7, a little fellow with a red felt hat and cotton beard visits German kids' TV, taking his viewers around the world on all manner of rides. Monday might find him on a carpet in India, Tuesday, a submarine under the sea, Wednesday, he‘ll guide a troika into the wilds of Russia. The little man, Sandmännchen, visits children in these far off places and watches a short cartoon with them before he sprinkles moon sand into the air and sends his audience to bed. He’s a popular figure in our house, and if Caroline is not too busy with homework, the kids like to curl up together on the sofa and watch his show while we make dinner.
When she first started watching, Caroline was terrified of Sandmänn's power, and would hide her eyes or run from the room when he blew his sleepy sand. A big eight, she laughs at her baby self now, and watches the show with the vast superiority of someone who knows all the words to its nightly song.
"Sandmänn" the kids yell when he appears. I'll scoot in from the kitchen to see which clip is on, cuddle James and talk to Caroline about the fairy tale behind the story or the puppet featured this time (the show is more than 50 years old, so there are many styles to choose from). Then I'll jump back to finish cooking while the children watch the cartoon that's being introduced. Thanks to these shorts, C has learned a fair amount of German, so she'll often summarize for us over dinner later, with James adding his two cents to the story.
Part of Sandmänn's long running appeal is that children can send letters and drawing in to the show. If they're very lucky they'll have their pictures shown on television and even get a prize. After watching for so many years, Caroline decided that before she got too big, she'd send in her own contribution. She drew an illustration from one of her favorite cartoons, wrote a short letter in German, and mailed her package off.
She's still waiting to see if her picture will show up one evening. It's been a few months though, so I recently decided to take matters into my own hands. But that's a post for another day.
Kinder, liebe Kinder, es hat mir Spaß gemacht.
Nun schnell ins Bett und schlaft recht schön.
Dann will auch ich zur Ruhe gehn. Ich wünsch euch gute Nacht."*
Children, dear children, we've had a lot of fun.
Now quickly, to bed and sleep well.
Then I will also go rest. I wish you all good night.
*The last stanza of the last song of the show each night.
If I'm not working or hanging out with our 10 year old while a bouncy 5 year old dances around us, there's a good chance I'll be hammering away on our piano, reading a book or trying to sketch. I live in Prague, Czech Republic and hail from the U.S. South.