Have you noticed how old people have been replacing car showrooms on West Berlin's once-proud boulevard Kurfürstendamm?Instead of the traditional practice of hiding the aged away in leafy suburban residences – on the spurious grounds that they need to suck in the forest air and hear the twittering of birds to stave off the Grim Reaper – they are living out in the open in the German capital, sandwiched between Kaisers supermarkets and Tchibo shops.I have been arguing for years that the age of the au pair is coming to an end.Working parents are playing roulette by handing over their children to teenagers who often speak imperfect German, who cannot cook and cannot concentrate on the child because they are too busy answering text messages from similarly bored friends.The proposal now is that families should receive a weekly €350 childcare allowance – basically a tax rebate – which they use to pay Oma and Opa.
But actual childcare, regular, confident and reliable, is undertaken more out of guilt than with enthusiasm. The classic confrontation between grandmother and adult daughter about how best to raise a baby – often stirring up bitter memories about past (real or imagined) neglect – will evaporate.
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Grandparents may have outdated ideas and they may not be able to play football in the park, but at least they do not have eating disorders.
They know when a child is sick or just pretending; they know the difference between a Big Mac and a bowl of homemade vegetable soup.
, Tinder is the harbinger of today's hookup-fueled "dating apocalypse." But the truth of the matter is, hooking up isn't anything new (and may in fact be hardwired into our genetics).