Last month we met with our friends from England and they told us a story about how their 2 years old son can say one thing in German: “Das ist meins!” (“it’s mine!”) – that’s what he learned on the playground. We had a laugh about it. But later on it hit me: it’s not as funny as it seems. I went in my head through some other “funny ha ha” things I’ve heard since I moved to Germany and it started to scare me.
- I remembered how one mother didn’t allow her married son to bring home pictures from his childhood to show to his wife, because they were HERS
- I remembered how I told one grandmother that my mum brought for our daughter baby clothes that I used to wear when I was little, and this grandmother said that she has a box with staff from her son’s childhood but she keeps it just for HER because it is too precious.
- I remember how the same person refused to bring any toy that she still has in her house, to play for Zosia, because SHE has HER vision of the future: SHE will have grandkids from other sons and wants to be a cool grandmother to whom grandkids come and play. Till then Zosia is not allowed to touch anything.
Ok, all those examples were about this one person, I thought. Maybe it is just her and this kid from the playground that our English friends met. Maybe this “das-ist-meins” virus has not yet spread that much. But then it happened:
We had just come back from Cuba, I was at the playground with Zosia and my mum. Later on came one more woman with a sleeping small baby in a stroller and a 2-3 years old daughter. Zosia wanted to play with the girl and came closer. But neither the mother, nor the girl payed attention to her. Zosia was standing there, smiling, and trying to make some contact. But the mother was only looking at her phone all the time. The daughter, on the other hand, started complaining that she wants Zosia to go away (Zosia was standing 2 meters from her and only looking), and that those toys are HERS. I took my daughter away and tried to explain that we are not in Cuba any more, that it is not her fault that this woman is not reacting or smiling, and that the girl behaves like this. And then a miracle happened. My daughter took her toy, put it close to the girl, went away, and never came back there. It was like a slap in the face of the epidemic of „Das ist meins“ and saying: you want more? Here you go, this can be as well YOURS! My 1,5 years old daughter kicked egoisms’ ass. I couldn’t be more proud!
Returning to Germany from Cuba was a huge shock for all of us. After coming back from a country where people have almost nothing due to embargo and still share whatever they have. Germany looked like the waste land filled with hollow men from Eliot’s poetry. One would think that in a society: where no one is hungry, where you can usually find a decent job and have a life on a good economical level; people should not be so attached to material things. That when you have enough, usually even too much, giving away or sharing is easier, as you don’t really need all this stuff or can replace it.
But it is not just about stuff. In Cuba everyone smiles while passing by. But they don’t smile because their lives are without problems. There is a saying in Cuba, that although today is really bad, everything can change tomorrow. And this hope puts smiles on Cuban faces and they share this smile with anyone they meet. Germans on the other hand, decide to keep their smiles to themselves. In seems that their smiles are as well infected with the “das ist meins” virus.
To sum up:
- You don’t need to have a lot to share
- You don’t need to be the luckiest person in the world to smile
And what about the things that are precious to us? I recently went through the pictures from Zosia’s first 1,5 years. The majority of clothes that she was wearing during her first birthday, our first trip to Balkans, the first walk, the first time in a plane, and the first time at the Caribbean beach, are not lying in a precious box. We left them in Cuba for our new friends and their daughter Amanda. And you know what: only now those clothes are really precious and it puts a smile on my face when I see them on the pictures.
Why am I even bothering to write it?
Why can’t I just shut the f… up and stop digging out examples from my private life? Well “das ist meins” is not a one person thing. Of course everyone is responsible for his/her own infection but the spreading factor of this epidemic is undeniable. I do believe that you cannot cure a disease unless you say, unless you openly admit what kind of disease it is. If we finally say it loud, we have at least a chance either not to get infected or to cure it. So here it is: an epidemic of “das ist meins” is in a full swing in Germany! Let’s fight it together.
If you read that far, you definitely have something to say. Please write a comment 🙂
Special thanks for the inspiration to the ones who stayed in Germany and survived:
- to Zosia and Dario for being and shining
- to Jemma, Chris, Ava and Jake, for not getting the “das ist meins” virus, for thousands of tips and all the support we and our Cuban friends got from you
- to all the others that we miraculously meet and who give us hope
I would like to thank our family from Poland, Argentina, Armenia, and Cuba!
I would like to thank my sunshines Ola, Marlenka and Darek, for all those years. We wish you were much closer!
I would like to thank all the amazing people we’ve met during our travels: YOU opened our eyes to many things and became our friends and our family. You are in our hearts forever! There are hundreds of names I should write here, but You all know it already.
I would like to thank as well all the people whose behavior forced me to write this article. Maybe someday we will be on the same side.
*The picture was taken in Cuba. I was walking with Zosia around and she decided to go through an open fence. We were immediately invited inside and made new friends.
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Arturo(20th May 2016 - 9:08 pm)
I have to agree with you on the “das ist meins” syndrome. I am from and live in Mexico, my brother lives in Germany. He has 2 kids and the few times I have visited him I notice this syndrome in them and their friends. And the most shocking thing for me is, like you pointed out, it is not just kids, adults have the same attitude. “This is my way of doing things”, “This is my space” and they will not think outside of that. I met Dario on a Conference in Baltimore, he approached me and a friend at breakfast and asked if he could sit with us and we talked. When he said he was from Germany I thought “this can’t be right, germans don’t go asking people to have breakfast together and talk like friends”. I have even told Dario this and he thanks me for considering him outside this hermetic-form-of-being.
In brief, I agree with you that there is an epidemic of egocentrism and we should try to change this somehow and you guys are a perfect example of how things can be donde differently. With more joy and optimism and hope. Teaching this to our kids will eventually turn things around. Zosia is very lucky to have you as parents.
lovetravellingfamily(24th May 2016 - 10:15 am)
You can’t imagine how important your comment was for us. That day we had again another very sad example of “das ist meins” virus. There are some days, when one simply is totally beaten up by all of this. And I was almost about to cry, when Dario came to me and said: “check out the comment on Lovetravelling.” Here it was, your comment 🙂 I read it and smiled. It gave us hope! And that’s the most precious you can get 🙂 Thank YOU!!!