Friday, 13 November 2009

Eva's Tale

The story so far: Eva is a little girl living in post-war Germany. Because she might be in danger of contracting Tbc she is sent to a children's home, which is also used as a sanatorium, on the island of Norderney in the North Sea. She is away from home, on her own, for the first time in her life.

Eva Goes On Holiday # 3

Miss Manfred took the Heidi book away from me. I cried a bit because I like my Heidi book and I wanted to read it again. Miss Manfred said that she would read it to all of us, in the afternoon, when we are all lying on our beds having a rest.

My Mum sent me some sweeties because I asked for them but Miss Manfred
took them away too and she shared them out to everybody. But that’s all right because Miss Manfred shares out everybody’s sweeties and we get some every afternoon.

It is very nice to lie on my bed and suck a sweetie and Miss Manfred reads my Heidi book out loud and sometimes we all fall asleep after a bit.


This morning Miss Manfred asked me if I could go and clean the rubbish bin in the toilets. I said I would and found the Vim and a brush and some cloths in the cleaning cupboard. Then I took the things into the toilets. There was nobody else there. I shut the door and because the bin was full of rubbish and I didn’t know what to do with it I tipped it all out on the floor. The bin was very dirty. I tipped in the Vim and got some water on the brush and scrubbed the bin until it was much cleaner. I dried it with the cloths. It was lovely and white after I finished cleaning it.

There was still the rubbish from the bin on the floor. I picked it all up again and put it back into the bin. I left nothing lying on the floor because I wiped the floor with the cloths too. It took a very long time.

Then I went out to play with the other children.

When it was teatime Miss Manfred asked me if I had remembered to clean the bin. She should know without asking because it took me a long time and I missed a lot of playing time because I was in the toilets. When I said yes, she said, are you sure, and she looked at me like Miss Speer does when she asks why there are no names on the blackboard. Her face was all shut in and her mouth was closed and in a line and her face came right down to mine and she asked again, if I was sure. Well, of course, I was and I was a bit frightened because she didn’t smile and I told her to go and look and that I had put everything back in the cleaning cupboard afterwards.

Miss Manfred said, very well then, but she didn’t smile and she didn’t say thank you either, which Mum says you must always do when somebody does something for you.


  1. If only Adults would be more specific kids wouldnt end up in scrapes like that!! Poor Tyke!

  2. What an awful squirmy feeling I had when I read that. I, too, remember being misunderstood and being unable to make things clear to an adult - the one and only time I was ever hit at school was by a teacher who made an assumption that I was too frightened/confused to set straight. Do you believe that these small childhood experiences loom large for us later in life? I do.

  3. I tend to forget how children can misunderstand. We assume they are always tryng to get out of doing something, but perhaps not!

  4. You represent the potential cruelty of adults to innocent children very well. She frightened me.

  5. As ever a really wonderful blog. Please check out my blog...I've left you a challenge there :-)
    A x

  6. Friko

    I eagerly look forward to Eva's Tale and The Scraper's Diary. I'm hooked!

  7. Poor Eva. Can we not just let the children play?

  8. Dear, little Eva was extremely patient with the adults around her - and their poor behaviour! Hard for a child to figure out the reasoning and leaps of logic of adults!

  9. her at home - you are so right

    Pondside - squirmy feeling is good, I had/have plenty of those

    Tabor - well, Eva wasn't

    Fran Hill - you must be a very good teacher

    Wipso - thank you; I shall come over and see what you've got

    Martin H - I'm glad; it keeps you coming back

    Prospero - Poor Eva indeed; As she didn't understand perhaps she got over it

    Bonnie - hard for all children; we need to remember that

  10. Hello Friko,

    As I read this chapter of Eva's tale, I just wanted to intervene, to jump into that story and explain everything. Make it all right.

    Sooner something is addressed, sooner it can be healed. True for children, and adults, too.


  11. Took me back to childhood and that awful feeling of looking up to the almighty unknowable adults.

  12. Dear Friko,
    I'll for sure keep this at least in my mind,for a long time to come, while speaking to my son.
    A wonderful weekend for you.

  13. Hi Friko~ I love the dramatic tension that builds in your stories. You're just as good as the scraper! I think in your defense, I might have added to the teacher that the bin had not been cleaned in a long time and was a major, time-consuming task for you. However, it really wouldn't have been wise to argue with this sort of mindset. I'm glad you got Heidi (I adored that book, too!) and a sweetie in the afternoon. You really know how to express yourself as a child would. You could write a children's story. xxox

  14. Children should come first, not adults' convenience. A powerful story you are sharing.

    Aloha, Friend Friko

    Comfort Spiral

  15. "Suffer the little children" means put up with them.
    Suffer for them, tolerate their weakness.
    Too many people get that backwards.

  16. This really gave me the creeps.

    When my 1 1/2 year old daughter wakes up tomorrow I will tell her she no longer needs to clean the bins.

  17. Children are fragile, they have to live in an adult world and it is scary. Beautifully told story.

  18. friko - childhood and adulthood is filled with moments like this that you describe here because we are so focussed on role. the parent has to parent all the time, the child has to do what makes the situation work whenever possible. often the confusion is about people sticking to their roles and not to themselves. you are such a beautiful writer. i am always left in awe!!!! steven

  19. You captured the spirit of Eva's surrounding so well. Children at that time didn't argue with adults. My mum always found it shocking that my children argued when they thought they were treated unjustly.

  20. Frances - bless you

    Mark Kerstetter - 'unknowable adults' that's good

    robert - thank you, the same to you

    Margaret - thank you for wanting to defend Eva

    Cloudia - too true, Aloha !

    Lane Savant - we all need to learn this

    Amada - not my intention, Amanda; I'm sure you are kind to your daughter anyway

    Moannie - thank you very much

    Steven - thanks steven, you are very kind; I'm sure you would have heard what Eva was saying

    Ivy - Eva war sehr jung, es ist nicht leicht, sich gegenueber Autoritaetspersonen zu behaupten.

  21. 'Miss Manfred said, very well then, but she didn’t smile and she didn’t say thank you either, which Mum says you must always do when somebody does something for you.'

    I was almost in tears there. That's how innocence is crushed. That's how it starts and then we, adults, reap what we sow. And we complain.

    Marvellous post. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  22. I remember that feeling where adults seem to have all the power and you very little of it. Eva is wise and patient beyond her years.

  23. What a poignant scene this is, and your ability to put yourself in the mind of this child is wonderful. We all have memories of misunderstanding and being misunderstood by big people, and it serves us well to be reminded of that. How beautiful, Friko.

  24. 03A Cuban in London - How lovely that you see that

    Argent - children so often have to be when adults lack sensitivity

    Deborah - thank you very much for that


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