The Hubby here, and I want to share my reflection of my first 3 week Swedish Summer Break.
When I started working in Sweden 6 months ago, I was warned by my new coworkers about the ritual that the whole country seems to enjoy: taking 3-4 weeks during Summer out of work.
As July approaches, the build up of excitement shows. Some might argue, around here, Summer break is a bigger deal than Christmas break.
All schools are closed. All daycares are seemingly closed. Most people (except those in retail) take July off from work and flee the city. Everyone working in Sweden is entitled to 25 days of paid vacation per year (that is 5 work weeks), so I can see why they make the most of it. As a cherry on top, in Sweden, if you take vacation days, as part of collective bargaining, you might actually get paid a bit more than your regular salary. They really want you to take those vacation days.
Taking long vacations from work is not something that we, as Americans, consider commonplace. So for this Summer break, I set two personal goals for myself: disconnect from work and bond with my son.
The first goal turned out to be surprisingly easy. I mean, it does make things a bit easier when most of the people in your office are also on vacation. Synchronised vacation has both pros and cons, but as far as helping me reach my personal goal: it’s a plus. I didn’t feel the urge to compulsively check my email on my phone like I always do when I was on vacation back in the States.
As for the other goal…
My relationship with my son has always been pretty good. But I always knew that I am no substitute for mommy – and there are areas where our son would not budge. Getting him to bed is one. He would get royally pissed off if mom is not in the room when he wakes up in the middle of the night, for instance. “I want mommy!” was a common plea.
One day I asked him:
“Do you love me?”
“Yes. But just a little bit”
“How about mommy?”
I don’t blame him. I was like that when I was his age, always looking for my mom. Not very many people know this, but one of the main reasons we left the States is because I worked too much – to the point of not spending enough time to bond with our newborn. Things were much better in England, but I feel that I hit a stride after moving to Gothenburg.
I’ve always been envious of all the dads out there on Facebook who manage to take a toddler for few nights on their own while the moms are having weekend trips. This was not my reality.
This summer, here are some of the awesome things the boy and I did together:
– Took a bus to Borås Zoo and Science Centre. The boy got some more dinosaur names to augment his dictionary, such as Apatosaurus
– Caught, hatched, and evolved lots and lots of Pokémon
– Slowly catching up with Pokémon Season One on YouTube (2 episodes per day only, I still remember the seizure concerns back in the days)
– Invented and acted out various made up Pokémon roles.
“Today I am Doggy, a high level Pokemon!” he yelled. “Hit Evolve button, Dad!” “How do you spell Evolve?” “E-V-O-L-V-E” I hit an imaginary button. Random dramatic noises. “I am Ultra! I have my Stomp and Stinky Balls! (don’t ask)”
– Recycled lots and lots of cans and bottles to save up for his coveted toy
– Using Pokémon Go evolution to teach him why saving up his hard earned money for a higher level, I mean, more expensive toy is better
– Took a speed boat to the Archipelago around Goteborg. “How fast?” “SO FAST!”
– Had him nap on me while we were on ferries and trams
– Saw him do his first forward roll, and the nine hundred rolls afterward (his patented Flip Fall, where he would pretend to fall then forward flip)
– Rode the back of a Triceratops
– Told him stories on trams. So many made up stories, involving our imaginary friends The Kraken, The Monster with One Thousand Eyes, Grabby the Toy Grabber, Terry the Pterodactyl, and hundreds more.
– Visited Copenhagen, took a nice tour boat ride on the canals
– Heard him say “Okay, here’s the game plan..”
I feel that finally, I bonded with my son. Like really bonded. He’s actually looking for me, and letting Wifey focus on being healthy for <Number Two>.
I feel confident now laying down with him for naps and at night. Instead of yelling for mommy, he actually gives me a grin when he wakes up.
I am very much looking forward to another awesome Summer Break next year, where we will get to do a lot more of these awesome things together.
And so, the time for the Litmus test..
“Do you love me?”
“But I love mommy more, though”
Until next time…