So they just both happened to be in China at the same time, my oldest son with his Chinese class and Frau Merkel. And he got to shake hands with her and even talk to her.
"What was it like! What was it like!"
I'm bouncing in my seat in the car on the way home from Düsseldorf airport, and even my exceedingly patient husband can hardly wait to hear. We are big admirers of Merkel.
"Well, we were all shaking hands with her and I thought why not talk? I said hi or something. We talked about what it was like to learn Chinese. And she asked how many Chinese characters we had to know for the Abitur. And I said, like, 800. And then she said something like there were 24 letters in the German alphabet, right?
Here I interrupted him. "She was kidding, right?" No, she was just really every bit as jet-lagged as the tenth-graders were.
"And MOM, she's a physicist after all," said our tenth-grader.
He doesn't have to defend her to me. I think she's great.
"But what was she like?" Well, as I imagined. As her face shows.
"She was really just like a regular person. And also, you could see, yes, really the Mutti," he added--she is Germany's mommy, and oh, this country needs a Mom. Probably every country needs one; let me rile everyone by suggesting that women leaders have a natural instinct for diplomacy. Our son is home and gets to sleep off his jet lag in front of the Germany-Argentina soccer game, which is on right now. But Frau Merkel has to be at the stadium in the flesh, telling reporters how much everyone in Germany loves soccer, and sitting next to the probably inconsolable President of Brazil. My hat is off to her. You go, Mutti. Three years older than I am, and with fifty times the energy.