Wednesday, March 9, 2011

You remember the show "Perfect Strangers"? Well here I am Balcy Bartokomous. The foreign stranger trying to make the best of a debacle. I'm staring down the barrel of a page of cooking directions, in what could be Egyptian hyroglyphs, and looking into the faces of three little hungry people who I am pretty sure know this is not going well and I assume that dinner is going to take a while. It looks pretty straight forward, potatoes and fish with sauce. Sure, given those ingredients I could make something of my own, but that is not the plan. Here they have a delivery system that delivers the ingredients and instructions for a meal for everyday of the week. It is a great system that makes it easy to prepare healthy and quick meals for an expectant family. Easy...well not so much for me. At least on the first night. Luckily I have a little help and I cut the fish toss it into the oven and start the potatoes. Now I learn something that really stings. Potatoes here are very small and we do not receive fresh potatoes until close to may. If you know me you know that I love potatoes with all that I am. So this news really hit hard. Anyway I cook the potatoes and mash them down. Without butter and salt, which I was not used to. Being from the south mashed potatoes are only legit with butter and milk and salt. We sit down to the dinner table and everyone seems suffeciently satisfied with the taste and I enjoy everything as well. I watch as the youngest one puts more food away than anything of that size should. "Mer fisk, Mer fisk" she asks again and again. The next night is curry chicken and rice. This goes a bit easier with the help of google translator and the fact I somewhat know how to cook. I am loving these trying times at dinner. It is really forcing me to learn the language and find a way to communicate.

Bedtime for any is no picnic. I wouldn't say it is terrible or even that bad but it is sometimes a challenge. Aside from the regular not wanting to sleep and wanting to watch a little more t.v. we now have the added difficulty of me trying to read them a story in Swedish. Or better yet me tell a story in English. I am trying but I cannot read the children's books yet. I tried to console the eldest the other day reaching out and letting her know that I needed her help. That she is my big help with the others. This seemed to work and so I tried to tell her a bedtime story. This seemed not to work. I tried speaking slowly, as if that would help. It of course did not. My feeble attempts at hand language was laughable at best. Still, she seemed to enjoy the story and the responsibility of being my helper. It is rewarding to see the development that is happening so far with their language and mine. This experience could be something really fantastic.

So far I am three nights in the bag with my new experience. Three nights of pick ups after school and meeting many new teachers and after school program leaders. I have learned a lot about the children and what my role in their day to day life is going to be. This will be focused on this and being comfortable taking care of them on my own. It is a terrifying thing to be responsible for another life. I have three in my hands. Three that speak a different language and will begin to find that dreadfully frustrating. I do not take this lightly and will put all my power into making it a great and rewarding time for us all.

I will be having many more discussions this week about Swedish politics. I will be learning about European unemployment and poverty and will try to compare and contrast to ours back home. I will also be venturing out into the town and back into the city in search of a job and person unique to Sweden and I will interview and try to get hands on with their jobs. This hopefully will be a knowledge filled and very fun week.


  1. This is awesome Michael! I'm happy I get to read about what's going on in your life! Take care!

  2. I pray for those children, since the one in charge of their lives was once convinced that a ride home in the trunk of my sister's toyota was a GREAT idea. Glad we only made it to the other side of the parking lot. Man I miss those days.