Saturday, 26 October 2013

Gold, water, fire and sea

Sometimes the simplest things are the best. In the Historiska Museet in Stockholm Number One Son liked exactly the things I had expected him to. He paid almost no attention to the actual archaeological objects – except when they were the ‘treasure’ in the Gold Room. The most eye-catching thing for him was a video of a waterfall, at full wall’s height. He sat on the floor and stared at the water. He was puzzled by the different shades of blue in the ‘Ice Age Room’ and the videoed fire in the hearth of the Neolithic hut. He got mildly enthusiastic about the models of the Viking Age ships and was happily using the brush in the ‘Excavation Room’. He even matched some clay beads in the images on the exposed surface and the finds cards.

Similarily, sticks, dead leaves and straw was the best at the seaside. He enjoyed throwing small stones to the sea; I did honestly try to keep him from throwing the stones from the boat’s landing place. Luckily, we could find some small stones nearby so he could walk back and forth the landing place and throw the stones one by one to the sea. This activity was done while Archaeologist Husband was preparing for his guest talk in the Classical Studies at Stockholm. During the guest talk Number One Son was kept occupied with the Angry Birds. The same medicine kept him happy in the restaurants during the lunches and dinners. What did the parents – and we – do before the tablets!

We did actually visit a library. But there I had to admit to a helpful member of staff, but we did not really come there for the books when they suggested we could look at their English collection. No, we went there for the alphabet exhibition with an M-slide, an A-climbing ladder and a B-train. We went there for the hiding places, climbing tower and big chairs and the room with the lights in the ceiling where the children could run around on the cushioned seats. We went there to see the other children and their many fathers. There was a lot of running around and the occasions when Number One Son hugged unknown babies and tried to carry them. I had to tell him that they were not ours...

Another big hit were the busses, trams, trains and underground. Number One Son loves public transport, although it pales in comparison with the airplanes. He was a happy boy when he was heading to the security with Archaeologist Husband.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


What is the more traditional way to start a joint holiday than a bout of tummy bug! My bed got a free flow of yuk and the sunny day in Stockholm did not see a stroll of Old Town and a lunch in the city, but a lot of Angry Bird, a lunch in the suburb pizzeria – naturally straight from the 1980s – and a sunny stop in the local playground. Maybe it is just leisurely togetherness we need after a month-long separation.

At the playground

The beginning of the visit saw my mobile battery die before the much awaited couple walked through the arrivals door – this time of Facebook would have required a photo. How tall did my son look and how ruly his haircut! I have been too busy of organising the first school day or working away in Stockholm to notice. He looks like a small boy, now his cheeks totally red out of excitement when he takes turns with his father in playing Angry Birds. The game with strangely Central European music you just cannot securely place anywhere. Hungarian? Polish? German oktoberfestband? A band from Transilvania strengthened with some horns?

The poor boy who was so whacked in the morning that he did sleep until 8 am and just meekly whispered ‘morning time’ instead of jumping onto your tummy looks somewhat better but is prone to lose his perk. He suddenly went all huggy and sleepy in the pizzeria and starts to look glassy eyed little by little. Let’s hope we see Gamla Stan tomorrow morning!

Monday, 14 October 2013

The screaming sound of silence

The daily event that really makes my heart bleed as a mother who tried to bring up her son bilingual is my daily ’Good night’ routine. As you know, this happens over Skype, since I and Number One Son are in the different countries due to my temporary contract. But every night I try to be there at the same time at my lap top and read a stretch of a Finnish or Nordic children’s book in Finnish. And every night I finish with wishing him ‘Good night’.

When I say this in Finnish, he does not react in any way. When I say ‘Good night’ in English, he may answer. At least he will do it when prompted by his father. Nevertheless, those few silent seconds after my ‘Hyvää yötä’ are the longest in my daily life. They scream the fact that my son has made his mind up.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Worried about behaviour

The worst part of being away is the moments when you hear that Number One Son has misbehaved in the school. In his school the reception class children have a special system they enter, if they are naughty and misbehave. Illogically, they get a green card that follows their behaviour after any fracas in the playground. This must be signed by the parent after the school day, so he or she knows how the child has behaved after misbehaving. Three moments of naughtiness and you are out, i.e. you will not get playtime outside. Archaeologist Husband thought this was to be for a week, but apparently it is only for one day. I was wondering before hearing the latest details how the teachers are going to cope with a child who cannot go out for a week and will be bursting with energy...

I am sure Number One Son is not the only child giving smacks to their friends in the playground in the heat of the moment. In a way these systems are good, since they help everybody to learn that certain behaviour is not correct in a big group and you are not supposed to hit anybody. However, how these things are conveyed to a child who cannot communicate fully can be tricky. Luckily, it was obvious that Number One Son knew that he had done wrong. And apparently not allowing him to play Angry Birds helps too!

The thing with these reports of naughtiness is that you are never told who the other child is. On one hand this is good, since you cannot build up a perception of a child that may be wrong. However, when Number One Son was still in the nursery, it was common that he and his best mate were play fighting, smacking or biting each other. It was not right, but we, the parents of both children, knew that they were the best of friends and that the both were quite rough and ready. In those situations it would have been good to be told, since we could have been able to tell both children off simultaneously when taking them home.