Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Carefree Swedish Kids

I noticed something since moving here when it comes to the wee ones. Not only are they everywhere it seems but judging by the number of pregnant bellies I saw at the local lake this past Saturday, there's another army on its way. This can likely be attributed to the amazing amount of maternity AND paternity leave parents get in this country...
So not only am I noticing the sheer number of kiddies but the lack of parental supervision of said kiddies.

We live in a very kid-friendly neighbourhood...perfect for the little guy. It's a semi-private community of "radhuses"/rowhouses/townhouses with little playgrounds in each block of housing, a larger playground nestled in trees and the whole thing backs onto a forest. We're surrounded by nature.

And the kids run free, run wild...And now that I think of it, kinda like we used to run the roads when we were their age. With our parents calling out after us, "Be home before dark." "Be home for lunch." "J O H N!!!!! S U PP ER!!!!!!!!!"
Remember those days? When words like "kidnapping", "sexual predator" and "stranger danger" were virtually unheard of?

Well that's what it's like here. Kids as young as 3 climbing trees without a parent in sight. GASP! And around dinnertime you hear names like "Rasmus, Johan, Jakob and Louisa" bouncing off the windows.

So it's freaking me out.

I keep wanting to run up to these "abandoned" children to ask them, "Where are your parents?" "Where do you live?" "Do they know you're having a tea party in the woods?" But then I might just be one of those strangers their parents may (or may not) have warned them about.
Yes, I realize some day my child will walk himself to playdates and run around the neighbourhood tearing up the pavement. He'll be 3 in a week and I cannot imagine the day when I won't be keeping a watchful eye out for him.

I'm going to be that Paranoid Parent, aren't I? The one all the Swedes mutter to themselves about, "Oh, she's from North America." The parent that embarrasses her kid on a daily basis: lurking in the bushes, peeking out the window, insisting on accompanying him to his buddy's house two doors down. "Mom, would you just go home already? I'm fine."
Is it really that safe here? Who's off their rocker? Me or them?


Mon said...

Ah yes, helicopter parenting -

Tough one. I'm a believer in free-range kids, and as a non-yank I can see how politicians over there have created a fear-based culture for their benefit. However, I'm also cynical about how safe it actually is compared to how we would like to believe it is.

Last night on our usial walk, a man started to follow me. And you know kids are all over the place over here, yet I've hear from reliable sources that pedeophiles are prolific.

But you tust people enough to have a nanny, whereas due to the experiences of myself and other people I know, I don't. So we all have different issues around fear and our kids.

I want to create a balance. Remain cynical but try not to let her know that. Instill in her confidence and little fear.

SwedishJenn said...

OMG! I don't want to be a helicopter parent but fear I'm already headed down that path. Shit. Thanks for the link, a bit of a rude (but much needed) awakening. I need to find some balance: walk the line between preserving my sanity, my child's and those responsible for his care while I'm not around.