I saw a kid smoking a cigarette yesterday. Like a KID. Maybe eight years old, so small that he fit in the basket on the back of another (older, bad influence) kid's bicycle.
We were stopped at the corner together and I did a double take because he was so little and I had an adult moment where I wanted to snatch the cigarette from his tiny hands and say, "KID! That is so BAD for you!"
But he caught me staring and looked back with slitty, dead eyes and I got the feeling that the child could and would throw down. Something about him made me feel like he'd kick my ass ("zusammengeschlagen") even though I outweigh him by 100 pounds and have muscles that he can only dream of.
They wheeled off, smoke trailing, and I thought about how I'm all for pushing the boundaries and sometimes going too far because that's how you learn who you are but shouldn't he be like LEARNING HOW TO SPELL or something at this point?
I assume that it takes German kids a few years longer than the rest of us to master spelling. Ex: geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung (speed limit), querschnittgelähmt (paraplegic), and verlängerungsschnur (extension cord). Which reminds me, I really need to find a German spelling bee to sneak into.
If a cop pulled me over and told me I was driving over the geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung, I don't know what I'd do. Probably what the old man in the park did yesterday when I told him I don't speak German: laughed so hard that he snorted. This made me start laughing, snorts are always good for that, but when he wouldn't quit jabbering, the crazy vibe got kinda heavy and I stood from the bench and said the one word in German that I'm really good at: Tschuess! (Bye!)