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.
My son recently got back from a school trip to Tallinn, Estonia where his class visited another school. A nice parent took pictures (because in 4 days my son only took one), and he included a photo of the school cafeteria lunch.
My husband thought I was a weirdo for saying that. He said, “They didn’t serve you on plates at your school?”
I said, “No, it was always rectangle plastic trays and usually rectangle food.”
Estonia, I am impressed!
I had a parallel world experience yesterday.
I went to pick up my son after school. I walked into his section of classes. After looking everywhere, noting that they had done a little re-decorating since the morning, I couldn’t find him, so I asked a teacher. She mumbled something in Swedish, which I took to mean he was probably playing outside, so I thanked her and said I’d check out there. On the way out, I noticed they took my son’s nametag off his locker and replaced it with another student’s name.
I walked outside and couldn’t find my son anywhere. That’s when I realized, I hadn’t been on the right floor.
My son, very concerned that we have recently become stuck with a low-selection Swedish Netflix, wrote, “My dream is that we get American Netflix back.”
My 10-year old travels by himself on the subway to school each morning along with many other 10+ year olds. I usually walk him to the station each morning to see him off.
At first, I worried that he and the other children would be confused and nervous traveling on the subway alone. But on days like today, when I look around, the children seem to be fitting in just fine. This morning I saw one kid, with his cup of coffee, dashing up the stairs to the platform. Another one of my son’s 10-year old friends was reading the newspaper.
Now I don’t worry about the kids being confused or nervous anymore, I just worry about them turning into little rushed adults. I fully expect to start seeing them with briefcases and talking into phone headsets, “Bill, we’ve gotta move the red stone in Minecraft. I’ll meet you by the swings at 2:30.”
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.
Today is everyone’s first day back to school after Easter break. I had to haul depressed kids to the kitchen table for breakfast. Then, in typical Monday fashion, we all missed the bus so we had to walk 10 minutes to the subway. Or, as my 7-yr old said, “It’s a mile to the subway and I don’t have any muscles in my legs!”
Upon arriving at the completely packed subway, the doors shut on my husband and youngest son. Did I mention it’s also drizzling and gray this morning?
We tried to tell the kids that Mondays are hard for everyone. People even write songs about it! Manic Monday, Monday Monday, Blue Monday, and of course the one my husband chose to play for the children – “I Don’t Like Mondays.” Nice idea if it weren’t about a girl who hates Mondays so much that she shoots everybody. Maybe not the best message for the kids?
This led to a discussion about which day of the week has the most songs written about it. Our conclusion was that it might be between Monday and Saturday (possibly Friday). After searching around, I think Monday is winning. Sad songs sell better than happy ones I guess. Am I wrong? Maybe there are a whole slew of songs about Tuesday I’m not aware of.
There’s a parent at my kid’s school that is ….. hm…. how shall we say….. not a nice person.
I am doing my best to always be nice and polite but I really don’t want to deal with this person. That’s why I’ve come up with a great idea. Let me know what you think about this:
I’m making myself a “Don’t Mess With Texas” shirt to wear up there when I pick up my kid in the afternoons. I’m also going to wear sunglasses and sharp spurs on my winter boots.
And I’ll chew on a toothpick.
Then I’ll just walk in each afternoon and go, “Son! Giddyup!”
And stroll out.
I’ve been reading a book recently on World War 2 and was trying to mention a few things to my 10-year old son yesterday, which simply lead to a re-hash of the big WORLD WAR 3 from last year between the 3rd graders and the daycare kids at his school. It was totally off the point I was trying to make, but I must say, playground politics are fascinating. I may sell the movie rights. Here’s the story:
“We didn’t want to start a war, but the daycare kids said they they could run faster than us. We told them to prove it, they said they didn’t have to, so we started a war. It lasted about 4 weeks. We didn’t do anything but pretend to run at them and they would run away. It was always in groups on both sides so we didn’t pick on anybody. After a while, they asked for a truce, but still refused to admit that we were faster at running than them, so the war raged on! Later on, we just all got bored with it, so I guess that was the end.”
(Isn’t that how all wars should end? “We just got bored with it.”)
My son is going to a party at his school this evening. No, it’s not a Valentine’s party. Because this is Friday the 13th, it’s a HORRORtine’s party! What a great idea!
I remember Valentine’s Day in school back in Texas. You had to worry that you wouldn’t get a Valentine. If there actually was a dance, you had to worry about getting a date. Too much love in the air and too much disappointment. Not a good combination for pre-teens or teenagers.
In college, one of my friends went to a school that would have a President’s Day dance instead of a Valentine’s dance. Yet another good idea. Lots of people dressed as Abraham Lincoln. Less intimidating.
So this Valentine’s I have to search for some devil horns and facepaint as the theme to my son’s school party is “Good vs. Evil.”(He informs me that everyone in his class plans to dress as evil. “It’s just more fun.”)
You see, when the kids graduate in Sweden, they load them up on trucks and take them away to their new jobs.
At least that’s what I think they do. Other people tell me it’s just a tradition that graduating students ride in dump trucks with birch branches yelling along with loud music while spraying everyone in the street with beer. They might be right since my husband and I got sprayed while walking down the street this afternoon. Not the finest of this country’s traditions, I have to say.
I found out that my son hit another boy last week at school. My son is normally very calm and quiet, so I was concerned and asked what happened. He said, “That boy was saying bad things about Texas!”
I had to hold in my smile a bit while I told him that we don’t solve problems with hitting and that next time he needs to either walk away or say something instead. So I said, “If this boy says something about Texas tomorrow, what are you going to do?”
My son said he would simply reply, “Don’t Mess With Texas.”
I had a test today in my Swedish class. It was a writing test. Out of the two topics given, I chose, “Write an opinion letter to your local paper to either support or complain about an airport being built close to your house.”
It started out well. I discussed the stress of noise and recent studies on heart attacks related to traffic sounds. But I didn’t feel passionate enough to say much more about the matter. That’s when I started to write in the persona of an angry 90-year old woman. I complained that people shouldn’t travel and if they can’t get somewhere on a bike, then they should just stay home. I complained that the airport is full of teenagers and I didn’t want them being loud in my area. I complained that people waste money flying to far away places bringing back things like exotic bananas. Back in my day, we didn’t need these fancy bananas and neither do kids today! My friend, Marge, has never been out of Stockholm in her life and she’s quite happy, thank you. So not in my lawn! But if you want to build it across town, be my guest.
Now I just sit back and wait for my grade. I also wait for the verdict from the teachers. Do they think I’m funny, or will they quietly ask me to leave the classroom and take away all of my sharp items?
(By the way, the banana thing is based on my husband always telling me how Sweden didn’t have bananas when he was young.)
Our Swedish teacher asked our class of students from all over the world today what we thought was different about Sweden and Swedes. She was bombarded by shouting:
“They all drink coffee. All the time! They never stop drinking coffee!”
“Everything is white – the walls, the furniture. These people are obsessed with white!”
“They’re super quiet until they drink. Then they don’t shut up!”
“Darkness…Oh, the darkness!”
Our teacher just shook her head and said, “never mind, never mind” and let us leave 5 minutes early.