us

Ah, it’s been a long time…again! For some reason, I seriously forget about my Swedish blog – I guess I am too busy actually living my Swedish life!

So, two years on, we are still here and thriving! Still loving it and still not regretting our decision for one second! There have some quite substantial changes – my eldest son has been diagnosed with Asperger’s, something his school in the UK didn’t notice during the four years he was there. So, If we are grateful for being here for only one reason, this is it. The school here has been faultless – we had an incident yesterday where my son was picked on by his class-mates and it was dealt with so quickly and succinctly! I often wonder how things would have been for him in the UK as he got older – kids with Asperger’s are often a prime target for bullying and I think it would have been far worse at home.

I am back at school (think I mentioned that last time?). I passed SFI with an A (go, me!) and I am now doing Grundläggande – I got an A in my first essay, so looking good! I absolutely love being top of the class and I say that with no big-headedness at all. I was never top of the class when I was a kid and it feels great! I put in the work and get rewarded! There’s some jealousy with my class mates – they have been heard to say that I am only good because I have a Swedish partner. Erm, no. He doesn’t speak to me in Sweden, knows diggly-squat about grammar and certainly doesn’t give me an unfair advantage!

The weather is turning cold now. We’ve had a fair summer but certainly not as warm as last year. The warm days have stretched into October, too, making summer feel like it is hanging on by a thread, which is worse than if just disappeared with a bang. I always feel so sad at the end of summer and I don’t really know why. I think because the kids go back to school and the days no longer stretch out in glorious sunshine. There is something about eternally long days in the warm months that just can’t be beaten. It’s not that I hate winter, because I don’t. It’s just not summer!

So, what actually brings me here today is that I won an award! I’ve been voted “Sweden’s best expat blog” by Money Transfer Comparison. How cool is that? Anyway, that’s all for now – please feel free to pop over and say hello at my recipe blog: http://www.theculinaryjumble.com if you get time! Bye for now!

Advertisement

A Call for Help!

field

Greetings from not so sunny Sweden! The wind is raging (okay, it’s a little bit breezy) and the rain is pelting, with an expected measly high of 18°C for the week. Summer is most definitely hiding away in a dark corner somewhere 😦

Anyway, school is out (I passed with a resounding A – so, so chuffed) until August and the kids are home, which leaves very little time for me to work, especially not on paid jobs because I get so stressed at not being able to think due to acting as a bouncer, referee or entertainer!

So, I am thinking of putting my time to good use and getting stuck into a series of e-books about Sweden I’ve been planning for a while. I need some help, and maybe those of you that have relocated to Sweden could be of assistance? I would like to know the most important advice you were given before the move, and what you wish someone HAD told you?

Also, do your Swedish family members bake or cook a special traditional dish that you’d like to share with me? If you share a recipe and it is used, you’d get credit in the book!

Thanks for any assistance you can give me and ha en trevlig sommar (when it arrives!)

Swedish Kladdkaka!

If you haven’t tried Sweden’s most favourite dessert before now – what are you waiting for? This is one of my favourite desserts (and my kids love it) – the perfect way to impress your friends or family, or just when you feel the need to indulge in a little decadent pudding!

This is my latest creation – check it out on The Culinary Jumble. You will love it!

Dark Chocolate Kladdkaka

Dark Chocolate Kladdkaka 2

Where Does the Time Go To?

20150404_113225

Every time I check back in here, at least one season has bypassed me. Shortly, we will have been back in Sweden for two whole years, and it has seriously passed with a blink of an eye.

Since I last checked in, life has been particularly busy. I have decided to go back to school to study Swedish further (I would love to follow my dream and become a translator, so we’ll see). I have to say that it has done me the world of good – I love getting out and mixing with new people again, and I love the buzz learning a new language gives me. For those of you that have been through the SFI system, I am at the top level of D, so in a couple of weeks I will be able to take my test and move onto “grundlaggande” Swedish (which for those of you not in the know, is primary school Swedish – I rock! 🙂 )

I have also started my own food blog – absolutely LOVE that, too! Please feel free to check me out over at The Culinary Jumble – there are a couple of Swedish kladdkakas on there, if anyone is interested in trying one of Sweden’s most popular desserts!

I have also managed to connect with loads of ex-pats living in Skåne – you wouldn’t believe how many are floating around these parts! In my tiny village there are several of us, and further afield, Americans, Brits and Aussies just seem everywhere! Most of us are half of a Swedish couple, although there are several that have moved as a family to work in one of the many multi-national companies in the region. I can’t tell you how lovely it is to speak to someone in a language that is your mother-tongue. Even if I get to be totally fluent in Swedish, I doubt I will ever be able to express myself the way I do in English. If you live in Skåne, or know anyone who does, send them over to my Facebook page.

On a more personal note, there have been a couple of monumental changes to our life. Firstly, our ten year old has finally been diagnosed with Aspergers – we’ve always known he was a little quirky, but until moving to Sweden we just put that down to him being him. Now that we officially know what we are dealing with, it is so blindingly obvious – he has such classic Aspergers/autistic traits, especially when he is tired or worried. My partner has also been diagnosed with depression, and so life has not been the easiest these past few months. To cap it off, my sister in law was admitted to hospital today at 36 weeks pregnant after her waters broke. It doesn’t rain, but it pours, eh?

Still, as tough as it is, you have to keep going. Keep putting one foot in front of the next. The sun is beginning to shine, the flowers are blooming and we have to stay optimistic. We have to!

See you soon!

Winter is Coming….

829d24cf

Oh, wow. It’s been so long again. Too long!

The weather has finally turned to autumn. We’ve had an amazingly brilliant summer and up until very recently, an unusually mild autumn. Inevitably, the afternoons are darkening earlier every day, and there is a distinct chill in the air. It’s dull, insipid, and grey. I literally ache for the everlastingly long, warm days to be here once more. We had such an amazing summer, and I miss it. But, Christmas is creeping upon on us, bringing with it alien Swedish traditions. I don’t like Swedish Christmas fare, and really can’t get used to Santa coming on 24th, in the afternoon. Part of Christmas excitement for me has always been waking up in the morning of the 25th, and opening presents immediately – having to wait until the afternoon is beyond torturous; and that’s me, never mind the kids! I miss crappy British telly, turkey, selection boxes and slumbering relatives adorned with rustling cracker hats sitting lopsidedly on their heads. It’s hard. However, next year, we plan on spending it in the UK – and I can’t wait.

Christmas is not the only way Sweden and Britain do things differently – every now and again, I am struck by how very dissimilar we are. And this week, this has been glaringly apparent.

Firstly, customer service. Yes, it’s a drum I’ve already battered on before, but customer service is one thing Swedes do really badly. For example, we booked a high-speed train as a surprise for my son’s birthday. He’d never been on it, but had always wanted to, and so we decided to go to Göteborg and spend the night. However, 20 minutes into our journey, the staff announced that a train in front had broken down, and we would have to go via bus. ALL the way to Göteborg. As you can imagine – not happy! Our two hour journey turned into over four hours on a bus without a toilet, or any other facilities. So, understandably we complained – they offered a paltry 25% refund. So, I complained some more – they kindly offered 50%. I complained just a wee bit more – silence. Absolute silence. They obviously had enough of my complaining that they just ceased communication.

That just would not happen in the UK. What also wouldn’t happen is me giving up. By nature, I am not a complainer – I worked in customer service myself for way too long to moan in poor people’s ears unless I have to. However, when you book a special trip which you don’t get (we booked a high-speed train, not a clapped out bus), I would expect a full refund. But, for some reason, their silence speaks volumes to me. Their silence absolutely shouts that they are not going to be cajoled, badgered or shouted into submission. We get 50%, and we need to take it or leave it!

The other delight we’ve encountered this week was the clever workmen, installing optic fibre broadband cables, accidentally cutting through our phone lines, leaving us with no internet – ironic, eh? So, H happened to be walking past the workmen, the day after our internet and phone stopped working, and just thought he’d ask if they knew why there was no internet. They jovially informed him that they’d cut through the cables the day before. No apology. Just fact. So, H rang the phone company – again, no apology. Five days later – still no internet or phone. Apparently, we are not due any compensation until we’ve been five working days without them, so bet your bottom dollar that they will miraculously solve the problem on Tuesday!* It’s so irksome. I work from home, and have lost earnings because of this. Again, in the UK, they would be on it like a car bonnet! And even if they weren’t, they would say sorry!

H thinks Brits say sorry too easily. That we say it even when it’s not our fault. And we do – God knows how many times someone has bumped into me, and it is me that has apologised! But you know; I like that. I like that politeness. It is so uniquely British, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We went to Scandinavian’s largest store last week, and it was unbearable: Swedes pushing and shoving, without a glance around them. No eye contact, just out-and-out trolley war-fare! In the UK, we do this little dance thing, when you are trying to get past someone, they move the same way as you, and when you try to go past in the other direction, they also move the same way. Brits laugh when that happens – there is a brief locking of eyes, a minute sense of connection. In Sweden – zilch, nada, absolutely nothing. I find that hard, really hard. Like there is no bond – everyone is out for themselves. Swedes are often described as cold, and in my experience, they really are. In reality, I know that’s not true – at home with their families they are as warm and open as anyone else. But on the street, among strangers? They are cold.

They also don’t know how to queue. Simply don’t know what to do. All shops have a ticket system, so that when you arrive, you take a ticket and wait for your number to be called. Take that away, and they flounder. Prime example, I went into a public toilet, and there looked like there was a toilet free; however, the door was closed. As a Brit, I waited a few seconds to see of any sign of life before pushing the door (again, we are so polite we don’t want to disturb someone taking a pee). But, just as I was about to try, a women came bursting in, pushed past me, and went into the cubicle. That would never happen in the UK. Whenever you enter a public restroom (or anywhere else that warrants queueing) it is mandatory to ask anyone stood there if they are waiting. Most of the time you know they aren’t; but you have to ask! The Swedes don’t. The way they see it is, if there is no ticket system to guide you, then you just barge right in!

I know that sometimes the Brits are a laughing stock with the rest of the world for this kind of behaviour, but I like it. I like that you can stand at the bus-stop, and everyone knows who got there before them, and silently, without acknowledging it, they let those people on before them. That doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world – but it should.

However, despite a few little niggles, rolling of eyes, and bewildered head shakes, I am still loving my life in Sweden. We are lucky to be here, and I am grateful for that every single day.

*Just call me psychic! That’s exactly what happened!

Vad Härligt det är i Sverige i Sommaren…..

…..which, for the non-Swedish speaking among us, means “how lovely it is in Sweden in the summer”. And it really is.

We’ve been at the summerhouse for two weeks, which is a week longer than I’d planned. H went back to work, and the kids and I just stayed. How glorious to be able to be so spontaneous, without plans, just taking each day as it comes. Doesn’t get any better than that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sensitive person which means I need my space, so having the kids with me literally 24/7 has been tough at times; we’ve had our moments, but the good bits have been so good that the negatives just fade into the distance almost as soon as they happen.

Swedes are good at doing summer; they launch into a never ending supply of BBQs, and relish just being outside. As clichéd as it sounds, they are at one with nature, which is how they seem to like it most.  The whole vibe becomes so relaxed, and it isn’t hindered by the fact that kids get ten whole weeks off school;  it feels like an eternity; it feels so liberating.

The weekend has been red hot, and just wonderful. The beach was buzzing more than the French Riviera (and just as nice), and the sea was blissfully cool and refreshing. We’d talked about booking a fortnight in Greece next year, but have decided that there really isn’t any need. Why go so far when we can get all this for free. Granted, the weather can’t always be guaranteed, but you just make the most of it when it is good.

I really do love summer in Sweden; it is beyond gorgeous. We are truly lucky.

Pling….

ID-10082888

…I’ve just had a blinding light-bulb moment:

I am pretty good at Swedish! Yay – let’s get the flags out, and set the brass band going!

For those that don’t know me (which is around 99.99999% of you), this revelation is not me ridiculously blowing my own trumpet. Usually, I am pretty crappy at bigging myself up.  No, this is the sudden dawning that I am doing okay.

The revelation has come after speaking to another expat that I can truly see myself in, the first time I lived in Sweden: the continual beating yourself up when you perceive that you are not quite good enough, when in reality, you should be patting yourself on the back. Learning another language, whilst simultaneously trying to integrate into a foreign society, is tough; morale and confidence take a bashing on a daily basis, particularly if you are equipped with low self-esteem. I remember last time that I stoutly refused to speak English, anywhere. I would rather struggle in pigeon Swedish with a supermarket cashier, than revert to my native language. I felt an enormous pressure to try to speak Swedish. H would just gaze incredulously at me, saying that everyone speaks English, that they didn’t care if I didn’t speak Swedish. But I cared. I cared way too much.

This time around, the pressure is off. When we have Swedish friends and family round, they speak Swedish, and I respond in English. It’s okay. It works. Many Swedes feel just as uncomfortable speaking English to a native speaker, and so this suits everyone. When I am relaxed (or with those that don’t speak particularly great English), I use Swedish. I was surprised to realise the other night that I don’t translate from English to Swedish before speaking; it flows naturally. That threw me for a second, but then it gave me the biggest boost imaginable: can’t be too crappy at Swedish if you don’t need to translate the words in your head before you speak, eh? Don’t get me wrong, I am not brilliant nor perfect.  But I don’t need to be.

So my advice to anyone beginning to learn Swedish is take it at your own pace. If you feel comfortable trying to speak Swedish from the word go, then that’s brilliant. If you don’t, then don’t. Listen to the people who tell you how well you are doing; my father in law always tells me that I speak very well, but up until now, I have just scoffed. But why would he say I was good, if I wasn’t? No reason. So, it makes sense that I probably am. Try not to set your bar too high: if you have been here for six months and know only two words, then perhaps it isn’t going too well, and you should try Spanish instead. However, if you’ve been here six months and you can write and speak Swedish, then give yourself a high-five.

I also no longer apologise for my shortcomings. I used to begin every sentence with “I don’t speak very good Swedish”, in Swedish. So, not only was that setting me up for feeling inadequate, it also made me look like an idiot. Had I said it in English, then fair enough; but to say you don’t speak Swedish in faultless Swedish is just ridiculous. Also, telling people you are not good at something just reinforces the subconscious belief that you are rubbish.

I accept and acknowledge my weakness. I have seriously trouble when I suddenly need to speak Swedish unexpectedly. For example, the dog ran off this morning, and a woman found him; although I managed to speak to her, it was basic and grammatically incorrect Swedish. I felt an idiot, but much less than I used to. Swedes are tolerant people; they accept your attempt at Swedish with good grace, warts and all.

Så mina engelskatalande vänner – vara stolt! Lyssnar på och tror de som säger att du är duktig på svenska, för det är absolut sanningen! Om du kan läsa detta, har du klarat det! Stå stolt!

So, I welcome my eye-opening light-bulb moment with open arms. It feels good.

Time to Celebrate a Year in Sweden

Image

I am at one of my favourite places: H’s parents’ summerhouse. Many people in Sweden have a second home in the country, usually a cabin/cottagey type thing. This one is gorgeous – slap, bang in the middle of the woods, five minutes from the beach; it is a little slice of tranquil heaven. I haven’t spent any time here since we last lived in Sweden, so it is lovely to return; even better that H and the boys have gone canoeing and won’t be back until tomorrow – the stillness settles the soul; the calmness soothes the brain; the perfect place to step back and regroup.

We’ve just celebrated one of the most important holidays in Sweden: Midsommar, so I thought that as we are approaching our first year anniversary of moving back, that I would compile a list of some of the negative aspects of living in Sweden. It’s not going to be a Swede-bashing exercise, because I could wax eternally lyrical about the great aspects, including schools, beautiful nature, and the general excellent quality of lives we have, but it is always fun (and therapeutic) to talk about niggles and bug-bears!

 1. Customer Service. This, in itself, is an oxymoron. Yes, we’re the customers, but the service is usually non-existent. See here for my mini meltdown rave about some of my experiences. I find it very odd: for a country that is so PC it is almost torturous, and as a nation that avoids confrontation at all costs, I find it strange that there are so many public servants unwilling to provide customers with help. That said – because of their dislike of confrontation, the staff can behave as they like because nobody would ever complain. So, the customer service can be as crappy as hell, and it wouldn’t matter. I am a bit of a customer service freak: if I pay for service, I expect to receive adequate help if I need it. So, this bit about living in Sweden is somewhat irksome to me.

2. Swedes often enjoy a little bit of one-up-manship. They like to boast (very gently, of course – they are Swedes, after all, and don’t go in for vulgar gloating), about what they have. They buy expensive houses way out of their means, and only pay off the interest. So, they don’t (and won’t ever) own them. They are very materialistic, and I think, pretty judgemental. Only, they would never admit to that (not even to themselves).

 3. The Swedes are very proud of their healthy lifestyles: they exercise, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and limit their kids’ sugar consumption. However, there is an undercurrent which is either hypocrisy or ignorance, and I am not sure which: they eat copious amounts of sausage and other processed meats that are absolutely jammed-packed with E numbers and artificial ingredients. In fact, pick up any random grocery item and you would be amazed by the contents, the majority unfavourable. Kind of like the UK 20 years ago, before we realised the dangers artifical addititves presented. So, banging on about kids only having sweets on a Saturday is somewhat redundant when you feed them food full of crap every day.

4. They like herring. Lots of it. I don’t like it, and this seems to rankle with Swedes. In the 15 years H and I have been together, his family have tried to persuade me to eat it; even so far as one Midsommer trick me into it eating it! It just doesn’t sit well with them that it’s not for me. My boys like it; thank goodness – otherwise could you imagine the grief I would get then? They would assume that I was cheer-leading my own “We hate sill” campaign. And while we are on the subject of food – most of theirs is bland. And that’s coming from an English woman; we’re not exactly adventurous in my part of the world.

5. They don’t shout. Ever. I do. Lots. It makes me feel as though social services are going to come pounding on my door at any given moment, after receiving a complaint of continued shouting at children! I am not that bad, promise, but when they are all so held-together, it makes you feel like that!

6. They don’t queue. They just seem unable to grasp the concept. In the same token, they don’t let you out in traffic either; they also don’t wave thank you when you do let them out. As a polite nation I find this a rather odd phenomenon. To help with a lack of queueing, everywhere you go there are ticket systems in place, where you take a ticket and wait for your number to be called. Very handy when there are numerous people all jostling for service, kind of redundant when it is just you, but you still have to stand their like a numpty, waiting for your number to be called.

7. It’s expensive. God, is it expensive. Everything is two or three times as much as in the UK. Okay, wages are slightly higher, but not that much in comparison to the UK. Come back, Primark; all is forgiven!

Phew. Okay, I think I will give the Swedes a break now. I would love to hear other expat’s views on our lovely adopted homeland, and the little things they find annoying.

It’s been a LONG time

I’ve been missing in action.

Well,  not when I say action,  I mean spending my spare time writing another blog.  I know.  How unforgivable of me.  It’s here if anyone is interested!

Things are really great for us in Sweden. I have not had one moment’s regret since coming back almost a year ago. Yes, there have been the odd twinges of annoyance:  when H’s parents over-step the mark (which have been surprisingly few and far between);  quirky, infuriating Swedish rules (how a British person can’t use her passport as a proof of ID if it is more than eight years old);  and appalling customer service (“oh, I’m sorry….the person you want is off to a meeting in 30 minutes, so she won’t take your phone call. Call back next Monday”).  Other than that,  it’s been just fab!

My kids are very settled at school,  especially my seven year old.  Every day I pick him up,  he’s with a different child,  and they are queuing up to come and play. It’s very reassuring.  He’s just had his first party in Sweden,  and it was a big hit;  other than the fact the Swedish kids don’t much care for chocolate birthday cake (home-made, too).  We also found several (okay then, most)  of his friends rather odd.  There were very little manners between them,  and they spoke in a way to us that I wouldn’t ever want my kids to speak to adults.  I think a big problem these days,  and not just in Sweden,  I might add,  is parents being afraid to be parents;  they are so terrified of making their child cross, or sad, that they are failing to lay down rules, and ultimately, respect towards others is sadly lacking.  Sweden was berated a while back for being “helicopter parents”:  always hovering,  and never allowing their kids to be just kids.  I have seen that over-protective parent thing a lot here in Sweden.  I’m a protective parent,  believe me,  but there are times when you need to let your little boy jump from that tree,  or let him walk to the playground two minutes away from your house.  I am not saying this is okay for every family,  or every area;  but we live in such a quite,  peaceful village, and sometimes you just have to let your kids gain a bit of independence.

My nine year old is slightly different:  he is undergoing evaluation for ADD/ADHD,  after the school noticed that his attention and concentration were a little off.  We’d noticed it at home,  obviously,  but had always been reassured by his school in the UK that he was  a model student.  Sadly, it seems that his “model behaviour” was actually him just sitting back,  right under the radar.  We had a lot of beef with his school,  and we are trying to be diplomatic and bear in mind that in the UK,  he had one teacher and a part time assistant for 30 pupils;  in Sweden,  he has two full time class teachers and an assistant for 18 kids,  plus he has two special teachers for maths and Swedish.   The important thing is that they are on the ball here,  and we are now aware of it,  so hopefully we’ll have some answers,  and a confirmed diagnosis. He’s always been such a sensitive little boy,  and I’ve been reading a lot about Highly Sensitive People (I am one, myself);  he really does fit the criteria for that,  too.  So,  his time at school is not as easy his boisterous younger brother.  He has one best friend,  and doesn’t seem very interesting in making any others.  Some of the kids seem a bit mean in his class,  but I can’t determine whether that is just a mix of him being very sensitive,  and them being nine year olds,  or something more.  But, generally,  he seems very happy,  which makes us very happy!

There just isn’t the same feeling of stress here.   Yes, it is confusing to know whether they need indoor our outdoor PE shoes (yes, the have two separate pairs),  and some things are simply done differently,  but on the whole,  everything feels a lot calmer and relaxed.  I am sat in my garden as I type,  and all I can hear are chirping birds.  It’s bliss!

I am also on a health kick – detoxing today, as I write!  Man,  it’s tough,  but I feel it’s a necessary evil.  The first time I did it (a few months ago), I went from eating a full-fat,  crap diet to a complete detox.  I nearly killed myself!  I have never felt so ill in my life!  This time around,  my diet is so much better:  I make my own bread;  rarely eat anything processed (instead, preferring to cook all meals from scratch),  and have kicked all the junk food (which has become surprisingly easy over time).   I have even got into the spirit of all things Swedish, and started running.  They all do it here,  so if you can’t beat them….This I would never,  not in a million years,  have done in the UK.  I am nearer to 50 than 40,  and I think people in England would have found the sight of me puffing down the street beyond hilarious!

So, that’s a little update from me!  I guess you could say I am happy,  and so is my family.  And that’s all we wish for, isn’t it?

An Odd Phenomenon….

An odd phenomenon is gaining momentum in the village we live in. It’s one that I am not keen on, but seems to be spreading like wild-fire.

Joint birthday parties.

Okay. What’s wrong with that, you may be asking?

There have been a couple of joint parties this year, where two kids have got together for their birthday celebrations. The school allows private parties in the hall for free, IF all children in the class are invited. Bear in mind that it is actually two separate Montessori years that work very closely together, so a total of around 40 children. I never gave it a great deal of thought, thinking that perhaps the kids or parents were friends, and they just found it easier to combine parties.

That was until I received an email from the father of a child who has recently had a joint party with another boy. He was bemoaning the fact that the party generated too many presents. I know. How horrible. Evil parents of party-going children, you should be ashamed of yourselves!

His email declared his intention to wage a one-man campaign against joint parties involving only two participants. He wanted there to be one joint party every season; so we’re talking about celebrations for 10 children per go. This made us scratch our head a bit. Surely, ten children generate MORE presents, and not fewer? Each child would still get one present from every guest. Wouldn’t they? So, the logistics would be horrific. Yes, admittedly, one party a season might be easier to organise if you all pitched in – but could you imagine turning up with (and paying for) ten presents? You’d need a wheelbarrow to transport them all!

Anyway, we dismissed the whole thing as faintly ridiculous, had a little laugh about Swedish people, sent a thanks, but no thanks, email, and then forgot about it.

Until the next email arrived. This time from someone asking if anyone would like to have a joint party with their daughter.

And then another one, this time, more specific – they asked, as my son’s birthday is in May, would we like to join in with their child. How do they know my son’s birthday is in May? He has only been in the school since August, so he has not had any other birthdays. Where have they got his personal information from? Granted, them having his date of birth is not going to crumble national security, but even so; it’s not something I feel particularly comfortable with.

So, the whole thing has moved from being ridiculous to rather annoying.

Firstly, what kind of party we have is up to my son. He doesn’t want a big party full of kids he doesn’t particularly like. He wants a small party at home, with some of his best friends. And you know what, I have to agree with him. When your six, you deserve to have a special day, where the emphasis is on you, and not shared with several other children. So, he will have his little party, and I am sure he will enjoy it.

I have replied to two of the emails, explaining my take on things, but received no response. I guess if your face (or party etiquette) doesn’t fit, you’re not deemed worthy of a reply!

This got me thinking about Swedish mentality. They remind me of sheep. They follow anyone they perceive to be a leader – and in this case, the guy brazen enough to send a circular email with his views to 40 other parents. There is a real feeling of one-up-man-ship here. Or, it would be more accurate to say that it is all about keeping up with, although not necessarily better than, the Joneses (or Johanssons). There is a tangible need to fit in, to be on the same level as everyone else; it doesn’t seem okay to stand out of a crowd, figuratively speaking, or be different. They can also be incredibly anal, everything is done to the letter, correct and in its place.

As a token Brit, I am determined to fight it, stand up for myself, walk my own path, and be who I am (strains of Land of Hope and Glory heard in the background).

Seriously though, this shouldn’t actually be life or death. It’s parties, for goodness sake! Come on Swedes – throw caution to the wind, and throw your child their OWN party!

http://theswedishlife.yuku.com/