Sunday, January 30, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Every Thursday from now on I will be visiting a Vuggestue in Copenhagen, or a day care center for infants-3 year olds. Did you know I’m studying child development here in Denmark? Well now you do!
Day care centers are so different here. In fact, the way the child is viewed here is so different. This is what I grew up around:
Picture Mother and her one year old boy Charlie walking down the shore of some lovely beach. Charlie picks up a rock.
Mother: What is it, Charlie? What did you find? Did Charlie find a rock? Is that a rock, Charlie?
Mother: Yes! A ROCK, Charlie! Is it gray? Is it a gray rock?
Mother: Honey! You’re so smart. Are you hungry, honey? Oh, be careful, Charlie! Don’t get too close or you might fall in! But don’t worry too much, because Mommy will catch you!
End scene. So, growing up with that around me, it has been somewhat of a shock learning about the ways children are treated and viewed here. You mean one year olds can actually drink out of a glass without a sippy cup or top? And two year olds can put on and zipper up their cute winter coats by themselves? Can’t I just do it for them? No, I’ve learned, I shouldn’t. Instead, I should step back and let them accomplish it on their own, even if it takes 10 minutes. Because here in Denmark they believe in the competent child. And guess what? Surprise! Children are so competent!
When I got to my Vuggestue, it was nap time. Nap time is from noon until whenever they want to wake up. One small girl in a flowery jumper was already awake, and over the period of the next two hours, little blond, blue eyed children emerged from the napping area, wide eyed and sleepy, ready for their buttered Smørrebrød and apple slices. They could sleep for four hours if they wanted to. It was up to them! Snack time involved real glass cups, and the kids (and we’re talking kids who just learned how to walk), were pouring themselves milk.
The women who run the day care center are there to provide support and affection. They don’t hover or micromanage anything. They sit back and watch the children play, and they read to them, rub their backs, and sing songs. After being there for two hours I felt like splaying out on the comfy rug and making baby noises. Everything is so laid back and comfortable, and it makes so much sense! There is no stress surrounding the child, no huge clouds of anxiety hovering over them. No sleep or poop or eating or burping schedules. They are just kids, growing up and learning.
So I’ve decided, I’ll have my kids here. Or I’ll start a Danish inspired Vuggestue in New York City. Would you guys enroll your children there?
Monday, January 24, 2011
I told myself to go. I said, “Joy, no choice. Go.” I only whined a little:
“But can’t I just stay home and watch the Bachelor…?”
“But if I go that means I have to take the train for an hour into the city, and then an hour back. And I already did that today.”
I convinced myself to go. On the way to the train, I said to myself, “Stop thinking. Just go.” Why was I thinking so much anyway? My theory is that I was at my limit of uncomfortable-ness. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most stressed and 1 being at incredible ease, navigating the train system was about a 6, finding my classrooms and going to class was also about a 6, the fear of getting lost and losing my passport and my shoes and my head was about an 8. So going to this party and having all those things in addition was pushing me to a 9.
“Don’t give up.” I told myself. “I’ll just go to the party by myself. Two hours early. No big deal.” And then an image of me wandering into a club, squinting at fellow students and passing time reading the graffiti on the bathroom stall doors popped into my head.
I sunk into my seat and wallowed in self-pity. I got to the city at about 7:15 and sat on a bench to contemplate what to do. I tried listening to Rihanna to pump myself up,
but I kept picturing my host family, cuddled together in a candle lit room, drinking tea and watching a Danish movie. I looked at my train schedule. 1 hour until the next train going back into my town.
10, 20, 30 minutes passed. I counted 23 women with Hunter rain boots. I counted 37 bikes, 11 babies.
40 minutes, 50 minutes, 1 hour. Train! But this train looked different, was called something different, and therefore, I watched it pull out of the station. Then I looked at the screen, and realized it was an express version of the train I usually take. Express? I didn’t even know that existed. Next train: 57 minutes.
Enter: strange man with pointy black shoes. He sat down next to me on the bench and started speaking to me in Italian, and then Danish, and then French.
I couldn’t understand a word he was saying, but he kept talking.
I tried having an imaginary prolonged phone conversation so that he would leave me alone.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
One night years ago when I was especially bored, I opened my journal and decided to create an “Opposite Joy” character sketch. Since naming her Miserable or Depressed wasn’t an option, I chose Holly, a name I had always liked. Holly is fair, with blond, curly hair and blue eyes. She’s extraordinarily timid and submissive. She loves asparagus and smelly sponges, as well as six mile runs and roller coasters …you get the point.
Holly is also adventurous. She lives for plane rides, the thrill of lifting off the ground and the rush of clouds around her. She dreams of month long trips around the world in ships and trains and boats and colorfully painted vans. Since Holly happens to live inside me (exact location is not specified in journal), you can imagine she is somewhat sick of my opposite-ness of her. She especially has a problem with my fear of anything that isn’t my room-my-bed-my-same-exact-pillow-and-sheets-I’ve-had-since-I-was-six-attitude. These are just a few fears of mine that she deals with on the regular:
1. Anything that lifts off the ground and remains off the ground. Roller coasters, airplanes, elevators, cranes…GET OUT OF HERE. I’d rather eat a live worm. I’d rather hug a cactus.
2. Traveling away from home aka safe place to be not at home aka not safe place.
3. Having to sleep in a sleeping bag. With a bunched up sweatshirt as a pillow.
4. Unpredictable toilets.
You definitely get the point. I am the least adventurous person ever. But since Holly doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon and has even convinced me that asparagus (plus butter&lemon&salt) is not all that bad, I decided to amuse her just a little as well. By going to Denmark. For four months. On Saturday night. I have 14 some hours of off-the-ground loveliness ahead of me. Yikes! Wish me luck, and see you in Copenhagen!