Our friends were going to come down from Stockholm this weekend but, alas, a large share of their family had the flu so we were on our own for the weekend. At first I was feeling a bit low about it because, although everything seems to be going pretty well, it is a bit lonely when you move to a new place and you know only a very few people. I had been looking forward to the company.
All in all, however, we ended up having a very nice weekend. First there was the aforementioned trip to IKEA. On Saturday we hung around at home for a bit in the morning – cleaning, laundry, etc. After lunch we walked into town for children’s day at the symphony. A nice snow began to fall while we were walking. It was really lovely. The weather up to this point has been primarily foggy with the temperature hovering just above and just below freezing. We’ve had rain and snow but no accumulation. I’ve grumbled several times about the weather because if it is going to be fairly chilly outside and the days are going to be really short there might as well be some snow on the ground to brighten things up and to give you a reason to be outside.
But, anyway, we really enjoyed walking around downtown during the snowstorm. We stopped for groceries including some of our favorite things to make for dinner. We also stopped for afternoon fika (coffee, but in our case tea and hot chocolate) at a local cafe. That place was a nice find because, while I have found many things here to be a little too standardized and mass-produced, Kafe Deluxe was funky and offers a localvore (food of Småland) menu. Once of the kids’ schoolmates was there with her father. As we sat there I felt myself relaxing and feeling more at home. Kafe Deluxe definitely has the potential to be my Friday office.
Today we took the kids to their first dance classes here in Sweden. Mei-mei’s children’s 4-5 year-old class was very basic. It mostly consisted of running around to Swedish pop music. Toward the end of the lesson the children were given a pom-pom and asked to march in time to more of the aforementioned music. Most kids couldn’t find the beat. I am going to try Mei-mei in a class for 5 year olds that are not novices later this week. Jie-jie’s ballet 1 (age 6 -8) was quite nice. Only 5 kids and a good teacher so that class is a keeper.
One of the intercultural issues we are frequently confronted with here (so far) has to do with child rearing. This is the root of my problems with Mei-mei´s dance class. There seems to be quite a lot of emphasis put on NOT pushing children, not over programming them and allowing “kids to be kids” but to me that lack of pushing very frequently looks like a failure to engage the learning that kids are always doing, a lack of recognition of what kids CAN do and the absence of support for them in discovering those abilities. Coming from the U.S. system where parents feel the pressure to supplement school with “enrichment” activities and schools where 5 year olds are being pushed to start reading, it feels very strange to land in a place where my 6 year old who can read in large part because we spent so much time on it last year at the behest of the school is now in a classroom without books, paper and pencils. I have been wondering if I should move Jie-jie into the 7 and 8 year old class but decided to keep her where she is after meeting with her teacher this past week. I explained that Jie-jie can read and she likes to read and write for fun. The teacher said that she will get her some school supplies and make time for her to use them. We’ll see. I keep telling myself that we can keep up math and reading at home while she learns Swedish at school.