Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Mother-of-One?

I picked up a parenting magazine today, and they had an article on a family who has no schedule. Their 2-year-old decides when he wants to eat, when he goes to bed, and when he gets up in the morning. He goes to restaurants with his parents, and apparently eats anything from Asian to Greek, though he prefers McDonalds. And the thought struck me - this is a family that has only one child.

In English we have the expressions "mother-of-two" or "mother-of-three" - you see it in articles. Gina, a mother-of-three, did thus and so... In Swedish, the same expressions exist. Två-barns-mama or tre-barns-mama, and even fyra-barns-mama, which would be the equivalent of sainthood in my book. But there are no expressions for a "mother-of-one" or an "ett-barns-mama".

Reading the above article caused me to remember a news segment I saw on Today or some such show when I was in the US on "Diaperless Parenting". Wow - you can avoid the whole discussion over cloth versus Pampers by just potty-training your three-month old. The segment had moms with their babies, who were in real undies from extremely young ages. The moms just put them on the little potties every five or so minutes so that they would figure out when to go. Several thoughts struck me on this one, number one being that these were families without wall-to-wall carpeting, or even rugs, for that matter! Also, that these were moms that had ample time to spend with their child - and of course, that these were moms with only one child. Can you imagine the chaos of trying to put the baby on the potty every 5 minutes while your 2-year-old is throwing a tantrum? And how could you ever leave the house?

Anyway, back to the mother-of-one... How wonderful it must be to have the time, freedom and flexibility to be a mother-of-one! How much quality time has Christopher missed as the youngest child of mother-of-three? (He might not be 3 1/4 and still in diapers...) Of course, being a mother-of-three lets me really appreciate the times that I get to be a mother-of-one...

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Swedish Election (by Annika)

Annika's class (first grade) has been discussing the upcoming Swedish election. Though she hardly understands what a democracy is, not to mention representative government, she was quite intrigued by the political symbols and campaign information.

In Sweden, each party builds a little house (valstuga) outside each of the major shopping centers so that anyone who is interested can come in and talk. Mörby Centrum looks like a little playground with houses for 4 of the 8 major parites. I was having trouble defining the differences between the parties, so we made the trek to Mörby to see if the volunteers in the cottages could do any better. Here is her view:

"The Vs" or Vänsterpartiet, the far left. According to one of Annika's friends, if the Vs win the election, we will all have to move out to our summer houses and live in the country. Since we don't personally possess a summer house, this would leave us rather homeless, so they don't get Annika's vote. They didn't actually have a house we could visit - I guess our neighborhood is not their highest potential area for votes.

"The Ms" or Moderaterna, as far right of left that you can get in Sweden. Everyone got a box of candy, which was a big hit with Benjamin and Christopher until they tasted it, and then we all agreed, along with the people in the cottage, that it was "adult" candy. They also won extra points with the boys because the volunteer (female) who spoke with us had a super cool Harley that Benjamin got to sit on. The volunteer's picture was also in one of the brochures, as was a picture of our neighbor, so they scored points with Annika, though not enough to put them over...

"The Rose" or the Social Democrats. They want to help people, so they are good. They also gave us a real red rose and a button that said "Alla ska med" (Everyone should belong). Annika was fairly predisposed to like the Rose party, just by virtue of the symbol. They also had nice "playing cards" with pictures of all the important people in the party (though she couldn't recognize Göran Persson) that were good for school. High points.

The Folkpartiet had the coolest symbol (the blue thing), though we really couldn't figure out what it was. They tried to differentiate themselves to Annika on education - "We want grades and exit exams" - grades which are meaningless to a 7-year-old who has no idea what they are, and exams, which sound like fun to her - some points, but nothing special to take back - no buttons, no pictures...

The Miljöpartiet and the Kristdemokraterna did not do well in our investigation, the greens because they didn't have any information Annika could take back to school, and the Christian Democrats because their cottage was closed.

To sum up, after recovering from her inital disappointment that 7-year-olds are not allowed to vote, nor are their parents allowed to vote for them, Annika still investigated the project thoroughly. In the end, she said, "You know, mama, maybe it's good that kids can't vote. I might vote when I'm 18... but maybe I'll wait until I'm 40, like you."