I have 4 post topics in the queue right now and only one of those speaks to the world of Swedish elementary school. So indulge me in this post and then I promise to move on to some other things like that scary system of socialized medicine all you Americans have heard so much about.
Today Jie-jie attended her first every school dance (a disco in local parlance). I was horrified when the announcement came home from school. Jie-jie was already talking about it because it was big news in the hallways. She already had ideas about what she was going to wear, which friends were going, and what she thought might happen at a disco.
6 years old! I must say that I am struggle to harmonize the idea that 6 year olds are too young to be working on actual literacy and math (instead of pre-literacy and math) but they are not too young to get all dressed up and go to a 2-hour disco put on by class 6 (13 year olds). Any way you cut it, however, I am not at all on board with the idea that 6-8 year old children need to start practicing for the club scene.
We considered planning something that evening. Something that Jie-jie would want to do so that she would choose it over the Disco. Jason in particular was not happy (I believe his words were that this was about a 9 on his 1 – 10 scale with 10 being the most unacceptable). In the end, however, we decided that we chose to put Jie-jie in this situation and, thus, we needed to support her instead of making her feel that we don’t approve or that she needs to miss out on things.
So, today, as necessitated by her planned outfit, I stopped at H&M to pick up a new pair of leggings. She put on nail polish and a little bit of my perfume. She wore a top and sweater with various sparkling things sewn on. We put a sparkly clip in her hair. She packed a purse with our phone numbers and 50 SEK. I walked her to the school gym. She found her friends instantly. The kids were all dressed to the nines – sequins, lace, make-up, I even saw some fancy hats and a couple of feather boas. Lots of kids were showing off their cellphones (obviously provided by parents who wanted a direct line to their kids). The gym was dark and the music was loud. They were playing Swedish pop hits (a.k.a. the songs from Melodifestivalen that you’ll hear more about that in a forthcoming post). We paid her admission, got her coat hung up, she gave me a hug and then she was gone. I went home to hang out with Mei-mei.
A couple of hours later I came to get her (6 – 8 year olds were supposed to be picked up by 7:30). She was having a great time and talked all the way home and wanted to sit and talk some more: She danced in the conga line. She came in 2nd place in the dance contest. She used her money to buy 3 candy bars, a bag of bulk candy and a coca-cola. She hung out in the girls dressing room with her friends. The boys were trying to come in so they were holding the doors shut. Everyone was dressed really well and she wished that she had brought her lip balm so that she could make her lips glossy. She concluded by saying that the dance was really age appropriate (her exact words) and I should definitely let her go again if they have another one. Next time she would dress up even more.
And I listened and laughed and said that I was happy that she had a great time. I still wish, however, that Jie-jie’s first school dance was years off instead of already over.