Another cliché I’ve been contemplating lately, apart from ‘the past is a foreign country’, is ‘wherever you go, there you are’. Mainly in the context that our children make life hectic, frustrating and messy in Finland the same they did in the UK. Either I’m already looking at the past with rose-tinted glasses, or their behaviour had changed since we arrived, but they have been doing their best to drive me nuts. I’m chalking it up to the big life change. I just don’t understand why you have to react to big life changes with whining, screaming and disobedience – why not sit in front of the window quietly and contemplate your new circumstances? Just an idea…
Here’s an exchange I overheard and recorded for posterity. Cal had been rushing home from nursery, partly carrying the smaller boy because he told him that he’d done a poo.
Cal: Now, 2yo, you have a poo so we’ll change your nappy.
3yo: Let’s check him. [goes to peer in 2yo’s trousers]
2yo: No! That my bum!
Cal: Leave him be, he doesn’t need checking. Could you get me a new nappy?
[3yo doesn’t. Cal goes to get it.]
3yo: No! I do it!
[Cal lays 2yo down on the changing mat and opens the nappy.]
Cal: There’s no poo here!
Cal: I don’t know why.
Finland is nice. The supermarkets are especially nice. There is one near us that is supposedly the low-end one, but it’s a gleaming oasis of pretentious teas and fruit I’ve heard of but never tasted. We did move to a rich-y area of Espoo – once we venture out more to Helsinki I’m sure we’ll see some more grotty bits. And hopefully some more grotty children, I’m getting anxiety about dressing my children in mainly mismatched second-hand clothes with the guiding principle that if there is enough fabric to cover most of the intended area, it is okay.
The parents here might be of the helicopter persuasion in general. I was in a shopping centre yesterday and there was a glass wall overlooking a central atrium. A mother was passing through with her two children, one of whom was interested in seeing what it looked like close up. The mother said, ‘Come away from there, you could fall.’