As I’ve said before, being a parent is often like fighting for a seat on a RyanAir flight. Sometimes it’s a school concert and parents arrive an hour early to dump their coats over an entire row to claim their seats. Sometimes parents are baking brownies and delivering them to the people in charge of the acceptance queue for the best school in town.
I am currently waiting in a line to sign my kid up for piano. For one day in August, at 8am, the Stockholm Culture Schools open their internet line to sign up for a spot in one of their classes. These are after-school activities like sports, drama, arts and music. Sure, there are other places you can find these after-school activities, but only the Culture School offers them for just $30 for the entire semester.
For parents, this is like trying to buy concert tickets to the most popular band in town for the same amount of money.
So many parents are waiting to sign up that there is a countdown on the website until 8am. Once 8am arrives, you receive a random place in line and wait. My place in line after it being open for 31 seconds? Number 1449.
Looks like my kid is going to spend his year playing the kazoo.
On this week’s podcast… Jarrett, from Calgary, thinks you people are WEAK! You want to see a real winter? Come to Calgary! (He also shares some expat stories from when he was a villain on Korean tv that you don’t want to miss.)
Available anywhere you get your podcasts. Just search for “Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow”
Or click any of the following links!
I had to explain to my Swedish family this morning how when I was in elementary school, we decorated boxes and everyone in class had to give everyone else a Valentine’s card. We would either make the cards or buy them in packs of 30 at the store. I explained that these cards often had popular characters that kids liked.
They had never heard of this.
So, for everyone who never heard of this or just for some nostalgia, here’s some examples of the packs sold in the 1980s when I was in elementary school, along with my comments:
Yesterday was Lucia day here in Sweden, the holiday where we celebrate St. Lucia and the light in the darkness this time of year.
Two things fascinate me about this holiday:
1. The major fire hazard
2. How does the Lucia get all that wax out of her hair?
Well, the answer to number one is that there is always somebody nearby with a bucket of water (this was my job last year). And yesterday, I found out the answer to number two when I talked to the girl who was Lucia at a concert I went to. She kindly allowed me to take a picture of the wax in her hair (most of which had already fallen out), and I was able to touch some and found that in fact, it did crumble and come out right away. I always figured the Lucia went to the hairdresser to cut everything off on December 14, but I am glad to know now that the wax does come out.
My husband gave a presentation to a 4th grade class yesterday and asked the kids how they veiw the future and what new technologies they think we will have 50 years from now.
I asked him how it went and he said, “It’s amazing the number of children who answer Robot Slaves. In fact, one kid drew a picture of himself pointing and yelling ‘Bring chips!’ while a robot bent over meekly in the corner.”
December 13th in Sweden is Lucia day. It’s basically a celebration of light in the darkness, based on an Italian saint who had her eyes gouged out (really gets kids in the Christmas spirit).
All over Sweden, choirs of children dress in white robes while one girl (the Lucia) has a crown of lit candles on her head. The other children carry their candles.
I volunteered to be the helping parent for one of my son’s classes on this celebration. All I knew was that I was required to stand on the side with a bucket of water in case someone caught on fire. Sounded kind of exciting.
It turns out that kids catching fire was the LEAST of my worries.
First of all, I had to help the teacher accompany the kids from the school to the church. This was like trying to herd goats that are constantly stopping to make and throw snowballs at each other. (Yes, goats totally do that.) I almost had 2 kids get run over because they didn’t stop at the crossing light and were way too cool to acknowledge my screaming “STOP!”, causing them to be stuck in the middle of the road with cars speeding past.
During rehearsal, no one caught on fire (good thing, since they didn’t give us our buckets for rehearsal), but 2 kids almost fainted and a few burned their hands on dripping wax.
I think that all parents should have to assist with a class activity or outing to understand what these teachers have to deal with every day. Not just observing the class, but actually having to herd them, instruct them and keep them alive.
To sum up:
- Teachers should be paid more.
- Kids are like goats.
- I am never volunteering to help out with a school class again.
P.S. The actual Lucia concert went just fine. I think these kids behave a lot better when parents and cameras are watching. haha!
In my old hometown newspaper from Texas, there is an article this week about a sophomore student in high school asking the School Board to remove the ban on boys wearing earrings in school.
I have tried to explain to my Swedish husband that when I went to school in Texas, you could not dye your hair, boys could not have hair past their shoulders, no facial hair and no earrings for boys. That was combined with the usual skirts past the fingertips for girls and no hats allowed for anyone.
Apparently the schools in the place I grew up finally took away the rule about long hair for boys (fairly recently). I know the earring and facial hair rule are still in effect, as well as the skirts and hats, and I’m not sure about hair dye but I think that is still banned as well.
When my husband went to high school here in Sweden, he went through purple hair, bright red hair and blue hair, among many other colors. He also had an earring. And no one cared. He was a smart and great student. No one in class was “distracted,” as some Texas schools like to say in these situations.
Imagine at your job if a man walked in with an earring (many men at your job probably already wear one or more), facial hair (shocking!) and purple hair. You might say, “Whoa Todd, cool hair!” and then do your job. I can’t imagine anyone saying, “There is just no way I can file insurance claims when I can’t take my eyes of Todd’s earring.” or “I would save this woman’s life, but I can’t perform surgery when the ambulance driver who brought this patient in has purple hair. It’s too distracting.”
My oldest son dyed his hair orange most of last year. All this week he has been wearing fake mustaches to school, nerd glasses and a hat that looks like Sonic the Hedgehog. Surprisingly, this does not affect his work or the work of his fellow students, some who have dyed hair, wear shorts or even a rabbit suit pullover (yes, I’ve seen this twice).
I live in the real world. I ride the subway. I’ve seen people dressed as zombies, people with face tattoos, people with piercings and chains. I don’t mind any of those people as long as they TAKE A SHOWER (and don’t eat my brains, of course).