Third Grade


My third graders started school today at the American International School of Vienna.  Is it weird that I still see them as my babies?  Because I do, even though they are combing their own hair now and can eat an entire batch of pancakes for breakfast. The hollow leg, as Opa calls it.  Seriously, where does all the food go?

They were especially excited to start school at AIS Vienna because it means they get to ride a bus.

Check out the bus.


Yes, a real-life tour bus, one of those huge coaches that takes old people around on European vacations.  Pretty much an 8 year old boy’s dream come true!   We have a 10-minute walk to the bus stop, past the Embassy and down the Strudelhof Steps, where a giant fish fountain spits water to greet us every morning.


Getting out the door is easy because they are so excited to go!  A sigh of relief every morning, a gift that I am not taking for granted.  Relatively seamless assimilation to new life in Vienna:  Check.


The school seems great.  I’m trying to figure out if everyone is just lying to themselves and believing it’s great even though it’s not, but so far it all seems for real, with no culture of strength and success tied into how many kids you can beat up on the playground.  Sure, kids are still kids, but I like that the playground is being actively supervised.  Eli’s teacher seems really nice so I hope he will connect with her and be motivated to try.  Jake has a male teacher this year and it seems as though the whole third grade, including Jake, is smitten with him!  We’ve been doing math all summer and they know their times tables up to the 7’s, so at least they won’t start out behind.  They’ve also signed up for after school activities.  Eli is taking TaeKwonDo and Science Club, and Jake is doing swimming and a computer programming class called Scratch Lab.  Totally their choices, totally their decisions.  It is nice to be in a place where we get to make decisions!

Like, which playground are we going to today?  Should I get one kugel of gelato or two?  Wiener schnitzel or bratwurst?  Do we stop and watch the tango dancers, or keep walking?


When I think of how much our life has changed in the last three months, it’s almost too much to take.  Three countries, three continents, two sets of families, and all of our belongings reduced to 8 suitcases and a 4-person Corningware Welcome Kit.  We’ve known adjustments that have not been as easy as this, and seen a future that took more fortitude to face.

Now, I see my kids happy when they wake up and look forward to going to school.  The view from the third grade classrooms looks down over the entire city of Vienna.   At this age, when the world is just opening up and they have the freedom to try new things, there is nowhere in the world we’d rather be.