Memoirs of a Seven Year Old

Back in November I wrote a blog post from the point of view of my, at the time, seven month old second cousin. Now, in Austria and Germany, we’re sharing our holiday with some long time family friends. Their seven year old daughter is my adopted sister, my partner in crime and my BBFF (best best friend forever).

Life is often more interesting when seen through a pair of younger eyes so I decided to interview the youngest in our company.

What was your favourite part of the holiday?
imageClimbing up the mountain and it was Uncle J’s birthday.
We had a yummy lunch. We had a really yummy cake and another cake and the candle was singing.
(I think what everyone else most enjoyed was when the candle stopped wailing…)
When we went to the swimming pool and the rudelbahn
(or as she called it, the ‘burluhbebuh’. Aka, a toboggan run).

What was your least favourite part of the holiday?
When me and your family split up and you went somewhere else and we went somewhere else [Salzburg] and so I missed Amber.
But didn’t you like Salzburg?
Her glowing recommendation of Salzburg – ‘it was okay’.
Earlier that evening, when I’d asked her what they’d done in Salzburg that day, she could recall two things: one, that her mum had been scared by a man dressed as a ghost tapping her on the shoulder, and two, that she’d had ice cream. What she didn’t tell me about was that they’d had a drink at Cafe Fürst, one of the best cafes in town, visited Mozart’s birthplace, and enjoyed a free performance by some Japanese musicians as part of a Japanese-Austrian cultural exchange. But really, what does any of that matter to a seven year old? Especially in the face of fancy dress and ice cream.
Her other least favourite:
Flies and wasps
(this was added as an afterthought when we were attacked by a nosy wasp. Although she and her brother did form the elite Fly Swatting Squad as a result so at least some enjoyment came from it… Maybe not so much for the flies.)

And then we played a little word association.
What’s the first thing you think of when I say…
Austria?

– Mountains, Lily (the cat), yummy food, plums (during a pretty ferocious storm, the poor plum trees shed most of their fruit in terror and we spent a lot of the next day picking up the abandoned plums. Good plums for jam, bad plums for alcohol).

Cow?
– Milk (yeah, okay, should have seen that one coming…).
Dirndl?
– Totally not English.
– She said ‘dress’ and ‘fanciness’ first but the last one was definitely my favourite.
Mountains?
– Cheating by using cars
(I didn’t remind her that she’d hopped in that cheatmobile more than a few times to get back down to the bottom…).
Hintersteinersee (the gorgeous Alpine lake we visited)?
– Swimming, her brother moaning, fish
(I can confirm that all of those things were present and correct).
Haribo?
– The German song
(one of my proudest moments was teaching the next generation the Haribo jingle in German).

Who’s the best person on the holiday?
Amber (I put this one in for a little ego boost).

What was the best thing you saw?
Amber (I promise I didn’t tell her to say that).
Lily.
Sunset behind the mountains.

What did you learn on this holiday?
You can achieve anything (she actually said ‘Anything I do, I can achieve’, so I paraphrased).
I got her a book called 100 Women who made History so that we could be feminists together, and it almost made me tear up that that was the main thing she felt she had learned from this holiday.

What’s your favourite German word?
Katze.
This holiday has been a learning experience for both of us: everyday she learns a German word and I learn a word in Mandarin. (Context: she is part-Taiwanese and goes to a Chinese school back home. We didn’t just pick a second language out of a hat.) I think it was the second day or so and I learnt ‘two’ which was ‘èr’ and she learnt ‘katze’ (cat). She was struggling a little to remember it, but luckily I had a eureka moment and said that it was a bit like the English word ‘cat’ with the Chinese number ‘two’ tacked on the end of it. And thus ‘Ginese’ was born! Our exaggerated word for ‘katze’ morphed into something more like ‘kat-zuuuh’ and it’s been her favourite word ever since. I apologise to any German language purists, but I have to admit, it’s way more fun to say it that way.

Would you come back for another holiday?
Yeah.
Why do you want to come back?
I would get to see Lily.
I would get to go on the balcony (I found her up there once on the second floor balcony, happily sitting in a chair on her own, in her dirndl, reading).

I know I’ll definitely be coming back. We’ve come here four or five times now as a family and it’s never enough, and it feels especially poignant while writing this because it’s our last night in Austria. I was saying to my Mum today how reassuring it is that nothing seems to change between each visit, no matter how many years pass: the farmhouse looks identical, our wonderful hostess remains stubbornly unchanged (I have absolutely no idea how old she is but she’s as tough as anything). The family here are always welcoming as ever, the mountains are still in the same place (always reassuring), the schnapps is always flowing, and we get to enjoy our favourite haunts all over again. It’s like you can just pick up right where you left off.

On our first morning here, my seven year old co-writer bounded into the living room for breakfast and promptly announced that this was the best holiday ever. I can definitely understand where she was coming from.
She then immediately notified us that this was ‘because of all the ham’.
Hey, I’ll take it.

image

 

 


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