Year in Review

3 June 2013

I write posts all the time and then don’t post them because I feel conflicted about sharing feelings with the public or I just can’t figure out an elegant way to express myself or I’m just being lazy and watching a lot of pirated TV instead. Now a lot of my posts are no longer timely, so here is a summary of what I really should have posted since February.

My English storytime that I give as a volunteer at the library started taking off and now there’s a spin-off English-speaking playgroup in our city. At this playgroup, Little Girl is about a million times better at English than the other kids. This has given strength to my decision to keep Baby Brother home with me (instead of starting daycare) at least another school term. It’s important to me that my kids be well-established in English as their mother tongue. Besides, his Swedish is not behind at all either, so I don’t think it’s to his detriment.

I gave up on trying to be a part of the village mommy-group because they always wanted to take two-hour stroller-pushing speed-walking forest treks in freezing rain. This torture combined with speaking Swedish in a high-stakes social setting stressed me out too much. Then, I tried attending their coffee/pastry get-togethers, but since all the other babies were pre-walkers (because the mothers disappear back into the workforce once their kids turn one) my toddler was having a very, very boring time at their homes not being allowed to interact with their un-baby-proofed coffee tables full of knick knacks and remote controls.

My psychologist fixed me right up! That and the reappearance of the sun. Perhaps hating living in Sweden is seasonal? Also, when I wrote my post all about hating Sweden, I was very sleep-deprived, being at the end of an (unsuccessful) week-long attempt to get Little Girl to stay in her own bed all night long.

I joined a volunteer group that visits elderly shut-ins. I got assigned to someone who was neither elderly nor shut-in, but was very lonely. It became quickly clear why nobody wanted to have contact with him. Now I don’t, either.

My very own evening English courses, with assorted specialties, are being offered for the fall!!! My name is on the school’s website and everything! This does not equal certain employment because it depends on how many students sign up, but it’s close!

That problematic seven-year-old boy at Little Girl’s school threatened her with a knife and nobody at the school thought this was worthy of a mention to me. Husband and I went nuclear and let Little Girl stay at home a while (she was too scared to go back), and then I attended at her side for a few days to help her feel safe and see what was going on there exactly. Mostly, I have to say, I concluded her kindergarten experience was good, if shockingly un-academic. Since my time was a kindergartner, Little Girl reported they had “fixed” this boy, which I guess meant they were making some kind of effort at the school to keep her safe from him. In recent weeks, however, she has said he has called her names and spit on her face and kept her from being able to get food. I would take this up with the principal again, except that he, the fifth principal for this school in three years, is taking sick leave due to being stressed about dealing with the school’s many problems. Yes, what a typically-Swedish solution to having too many work problems: claim you are “stressed” and fix none of them at all and don’t worry about how this affects other people. We are pissed and powerless.

I became alarmed that I have so many Swedish readers and felt worried I was offending them/you guys whenever I bitch about Sweden. I was grateful I have never gotten any dickish comments from anyone anywhere.

My in-laws are lovely people and my kids think they are the BEST.

I lost my mind over the winter regarding Baby Brother’s name. I decided I hated how it’s pronounced differently in English and Swedish and this turned out to be related to a bunch of issues I have about being an immigrant. Now, thanks to the psychologist, I am back to having a delightfully uncomplicated relationship to his name, which is a relief.

I tried to join Little Girl’s school’s version of the Parent-Teacher Association, which actually is just the P, since there are no Ts in it and thus no A. I was going to make the school better! It turns out their focus is on party-planning in order to do things like raise money to purchase McDonald’s for the kids while on a field trip. There is nothing at all about improving the actual school. Also, it was fascinating to see how they planned their events. I couldn’t follow the logic at all when it came to, for example, how much to charge per waffle and how many waffles to prepare. I am going to call it a cultural difference because the alternative is concluding those ladies were morons.

Baby Brother is 21 months old and just totally amazing and delightful and deserves not to be a footnote so he’ll get his own post.

Husband and I took a long weekend trip to Prague to celebrate our ten years of marriage. (In other news, TEN YEARS? WTF?) The kids were cared for by their grandparents and benefited from the Swedish-language immersion, meatballs, and ice cream. We particularly enjoyed swimming in a pool without trying to keep anybody from drowning; both drinking alcohol at the same time; and flying on an airplane without trying to keep anybody else from kicking the chair in front of them. We fly to America later this week where we will have none of those luxuries, but the consolation prizes are Mexican food, cheap clothes, and a large assortment of over-the-counter pharmacy goods.

I took over dropping Little Girl off at school in the morning, where I am the only parent of a child under ten who does not park his/her car and walk his/her child into the building, down the hall, up the stairs, to his/her cubby, and into the classroom every single morning. Look, the school only has like 80 kids in it and it is no mystery to Little Girl where she is supposed to go. I can’t figure out why everybody walks their kids into the building every morning. The school has a pull-through driveway at the front door for, I can only assume, the precise purpose of dropping/picking kids up. Despite early protests from Little Girl, walking to her classroom herself has turned out to be a good step in regards to her self-confidence and independence. Sometimes they grow up on their own; sometimes you have to give them a push.

10 Responses to “Year in Review”

  1. loulouloves Says:

    OMG, her school sounds terrible. I laughed and cried when I read all this. I’m feeling better too, the sun is here, what difference.

  2. ~zandra~ Says:

    I feel you on the winter blues, and I live in SoCal so I can only imagine how bad you must get it. I’m glad you are breaking free and able to see some good.

  3. a Says:

    A knife? And they didn’t tell you about it? Are there any administrators outside of the school you can talk to? That place sounds crazy.

    A nice trip away with just your husband sounds like it probably contributed to your general well-being. I hope you can schedule some more of those in the future. And I hope you all enjoy your trip to the US.

    My husband and I just “celebrated” 10 years of marriage…in that we both remembered on our own that our anniversary was coming up. We don’t do much for anniversary celebrations.

    • Antropóloga Says:

      Yeah, I have been writing angry emails to the school chief. She keeps telling me to take it up with the principal and I’m like YOU KEEP CHANGING THE PRINCIPAL EVERY THREE MONTHS LADY.

      >________________________________

  4. Cloud Says:

    WTF?!?!?! A KNIFE?!?!?! Was it a sharp knife or a butter knife? I don’t blame you at all for going ballistic. That is insane. I mean, even good kids sometimes do odd and crazy things like that, but I can’t imagine a school just shrugging it off and not telling the parents.

    On the sun and the happiness- have you checked into whether you might have seasonal affective disorder or whatever that is called? You can get lights to help with it if that is the problem. Heck, if I lived in Sweden I might get them just to have some faux sunlight in the winter!

    • Antropóloga Says:

      It was a a dining knife. He had a dining knife in one hand and a fork in the other and pointed them at her menacingly in the cafeteria and prevented her from getting to her seat while calling her “fegis” meaning “scaredy-cat”. She actually didn’t know that word and later asked me what it meant. A teacher, I think his assistant, eventually grabbed his hands and LG climbed under him to get away and dropped her food in the process. There were a lot of other events that same day with him, mostly due to their not watching him appropriately, and they didn’t bother to mention a single one. What their standards for filling out incident reports are I don’t know. Anyway, all day I have been writing angry emails to school department officials about how they need to get a principal to stay and be awesome and fix this shit.

      Yeah, I think next year I will try to take the following preventative winter steps: plan an awesome, sunny trip for February to look forward to; get some sun lights; take vitamin D; schedule therapy appointments; have a job.

      >________________________________

  5. Youma Says:

    Wow, I thought the boy was just “scary” rather than genuinely dangerous. About you feeling powerless, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re in a position to threaten a lawsuit against the school, it’s a fairly common resolution in situations like this.

    “honestly I don’t know what people are complaining about as we have a good six hours of daylight a day and what with all the snow and everything it’s quite bright and pretty”
    -antropologa ‘winter of 2010 :)

    • Antropóloga Says:

      Maybe the long winters have a cumulative effect? :)

      I didn’t know we could threaten anything. We will think about that. I have just said we were thinking about having her change schools or homeschooling, neither of which I think is a good choice for her in reality. It’s hard to balance safety from occasional violence/bullying (it is not every day) with how she usually enjoys her friends and school. The big issue is if they are classmates next year. That is still undecided. The school is disorganized with no leadership.

      >________________________________

      • Youma Says:

        I think the novelty has worn off and you now take the full force of it like the rest of us.

        Clearly what they should do is supervise the boy better. If they are also obligated by law to do that, you don’t have to rely on their good will anymore, you can force them to do it.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    He manaced her with a knife? HOLY GUACAMOLE. He is obviously not in an appropriate placement. The school people should remove him from the school.


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