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).
My son had a good dentist appointment this week and the dentist gave him a new toothbrush when he left. He took it out of the wrapper and slowly ran his fingers up and down, over the top.
“This is so soft. It’s like when I touch your toothbrush. It’s soft under my fingers. My old toothbrush feels like straw.”
I realized I hadn’t replaced the kids’ toothbrushes in a while. I told my son that I didn’t know his toothbrush was so hard, and that he should remind me to replace it more often.
I gave him a hug and told him he could go on ahead of me to see if his neighborhood friend was home. As I watched him run down the sidewalk, I thought about how happy I was that he didn’t have to suffer through all the problems I had at his age with my teeth. What a healthy kid. He eats well, exercises and….
Wait a minute.
“Why are you touching my toothbrush?!”
Sometimes my husband and I wonder what our kids might say to a therapist when they get older. Last week, we got a little preview from our 9-year old.
We assign the kids at least 2 chores each week. Last week, when I mentioned that I might ask one of our kids to vacuum, our youngest son said, “Vacuuming shattered my view on life!”
“Because one time, you guys told me to vacuum, and then when I got to your room, it turns out you were both lying in bed watching the Simpsons while I had to work!”
Oh well. Life lessons.
I’m not talking about Margret Thatcher or the Falklands War.
I’m talking about THIS horrible show, watched by British children in the 1980s.
A moment of silence please, for the victims of “Fingermouse.”
One drawback of having children in Sweden who NEVER see t.v. commercials is that they become quite overwhelmed by them when we visit the U.S. After about a week, my youngest was saying things like, “This breakfast today is sponsored by…” and “Brushing my teeth is brought to you by …”
I guess I should be glad they are adapting to the customs and language.
Best sign I saw in a pub on our recent trip to London:
For some reason, my kids weren’t into the new board game I bought them.
Happy Halloween all! We had a Halloween dinner last night at a friends’ house and the kids got to go trick-or-treating. That’s right – LAST NIGHT, October 30. But this is Sweden where no one is quite sure if Halloween is only one day or which one it is, so they tend to celebrate for a week or two.
Now what made our Halloween last night so extremely Swedish (besides some people being confused and giving the kids money – better than last year when they got loose potato chips), was the first house we went to. There was a 3 year old boy jumping up and down on a bed in the window. Oh yeah, and he was completely naked. The boys had already rung the doorbell and we thought perhaps the parents would be embarassed, but wait… this is Sweden and you’re always going to run into nudity somewhere. The parents and kid came to the door to hand out candy and the kid stayed completely naked just dropping the candy into our kids bags. Our kids were in hysterics. I’ll give that kid best costume of the night – it was shocking for sure. 🙂
(Don’t worry, kid not shown in this picture.)
My youngest son was asked to do a short book report the other day on any book he wanted. He chose the book about sickness and diseases that he got from the doctor’s office. I remember that he read that book for weeks after he got it. I had thoughts that maybe he would become a doctor or a researcher. I asked him what he liked so much about the book and he said, “The pictures.” So I took a look.
So, maybe not a doctor – but perhaps a comedian?
The other day, my husband and I walked down to the post office (a ten minute walk) to pick up some packages. Before we left, we told our television watching 8 and 10 year old that we were running to the post office and would be right back. They looked directly at us and said, “ok.”
When we arrived at the post office, my husband got a message from his mother:
“I just called your house and asked for you. The kids say they have no idea where you both went or when you will be back. They were surprised you were gone.”
On one hand, I think, “Wow, they really don’t pay attention to anything.”
On the other hand, I think, “Hmm…. I wonder if we could sneak out to catch a movie.”
I was standing at the top of the waterslide behind an 8 yr old and his 4 yr old brother waiting for my turn. The 8 yr old instructed his younger brother on how to properly go down the slide and when he did, the older brother turned to me with a knowing sigh and said, “ah, they grow up so quickly,” before doing a belly-flop down the chute.
In Sweden, most kids through Grade 3 have the opportunity for a free-time club through the schools during the summer. After Grade 3, you’re on your own once school is out.
We have a son who just completed Grade 4, thus he has nothing to do now that school is out. I noticed plenty of ads for day camp week-long activities such as soccer camp, art camp, dance camp, etc. However, the price tag is about $200 for a week! So I didn’t sign him up for anything, thinking that the other parents and I could take turns having kids over while adjusting our work schedules.
Turns out, I was the ONLY parent with this idea. Every one of our son’s friends is at some sort of camp all week, which leaves him stuck for a few hours of work with me each day (though luckily I have a job where I can keep short hours when I need to).
Not wanting to leave our son out of “camp” type activities, I’ve made my own camp this week. It’s called “Camp Price is Right.” Each morning, we sit down to an episode of The Price is Right (a popular U.S. game show where contestants try to guess the price of items through many different small games). We yell out our guesses at the screen “A stereo system? $750!” and quivering with anticipation when the contestants have a chance to spin the big money wheel without going over a dollar.
I’m considering opening this camp up to others. Here’s why you should join:
1. We learn math. (He spun .55, how much more does he need to make a dollar? C’MON .45! 45! AHHH!!!)
2. We learn probability. (That last lady got a new car. There’s no way this guy is getting a car. I bet it’s a grill set.)
3. We learn geography. (A trip to Los Angeles? That lady lives in Santa Barbara. BORING!)
So come on down! You can be our next guest on The Price is Right Day Camp! The cost is a set of home-made cookies or brownies. Certain flavors of ice cream may be accepted.
Answer: They go to Ikea of course!
(ok, not really a riddle… more of a question…. and pretty lame, I know.)
We made our bi-annual, required by Swedish law, trip to Ikea this past weekend on a rainy day. Of course, so did all other Stockholmers. I think we did well this time. With only 4 things on our list, we managed to escape the maze of stylish furniture and accessories with just 16 items. I think that’s a new record for us.
The rest of the afternoon was spent building furniture, of course. I tried to tell my son it was like building Legos, but he didn’t really fall for it. He did manage to hit a few nails and play with a box cutter in the toolbox while my back was turned before wandering to something way more interesting and computerized in his room, leaving me in a pile of screwdrivers and wooden pegs.
But everything has now been built and our apartment will have that lovely new furniture Ikea smell for a couple of days. I think it’s just a matter of time before someone bottles that smell. I’d buy it. I bought “new car smell,” so why not “new furniture smell.” I think I’m onto something here.