Friday, September 9, 2011

Wasn't Sweden supposed to be a kid-friendly place?

Often, when abroad (e.g. in Italy), we are questioned about how it is to have a kid, a baby, even better, in this Nordic country.
We are quite proud of saying that here things are quite relax, that we are supported in having a little baby, not only by the state in form of a quite flexible parental leave, but also by having a lot of "thinking" done for kids (just think about IKEA and their kids-friendly environment).
However, lately I am starting to raise my eyebrows and be astonished over some of this "kids-friendly" behaviour we have to experience.
And if I reflect about the matter a bit better, I realize that this is often just not the core of how things are.
Just a small example, kids are not always welcome to parties.
Weddings, for making an example? No way, they might disturb the peace&quiet of parents who want to enjoy themselves (without part of the family? what are you going to do that you can't do with your kids?).
Of course, one is not fully relax and has to keep an eye on the kid, but then it is up to the parents to decide if the kid is supposed to be there or not. Otherwise, which is this big disturbance?

Two weeks ago, I discovered that our daughter is not welcomed in church. Please, note that according to the gospel (just for putting the dots over the "i"), it is well stated that one should take good care of the little ones.
We were in church, Isabella was actually quite quiet (thanks to the pacifier and a lot of rocking) and there was another small baby whining a bit. After the mass was over, an old lady (hag) reached us to wonder if Isabella was crying. And when I stated that she did cry a little bit she ranted over the fact that I should have felt "compassion" for her and everyone else inside the church that had to stand the screaming kid for 50 minutes and that I should take my daughter out for a walk.
I wonder, if she was so disturbed, why didn't she take this famous walk? Isn't my right to be at the mass with my own kid? Isn't my kid supposed to be in church as well?
Of course, if she would have been screaming to death I would have been bringin' her out, but she was not (and she was not even the baby that she was referring too).
And what is the big problem if that baby was whining? Hasn't she had ever kids?

But the cherry on the pie happened yesterday.
According to some fancy dude, Socialstyrelsen (national board for health and welfare) decides with a law, if we are allowed to bring our daughter or not to a concert, hence if we are supposed to go out at all all together or if we need to find a babysitter every time we want to do some "adult" activity.
We bought tickets to one of the last The Ark concerts ever and we noticed that there was an age limit, stated to be 13 years old. Usually though, this is applicable for kids but not for infants: what I mean is, usually the infant doesn't take "space" and you can carry her/him around in places and that is not a problem.
We were happily (Isabella was indeed very joyful in her carrier) in queue when we reached the ticket office and the "dude" there with a sharp tone stated that we were not allowed to enter with the kid. We had a face as a question mark and he pointed out the note on the ticket.
Come on, for a 4 months old kid? Yes.
We stood out of the queue and I started to ask what could we do, if we could get our money back, if they could not make an exception, anything. The guy was as helpful as a piece of rock on a deserted beach.
He suggested us to go out and try to sell the tickets (yes, because the show was sold out and since this is London you can imagine people out begging somebody to sell tickets to them...right?).
Then, the "responsible" for the event (or the tickets, or god-knows-what) appeared and with a SHARP tone stated that BY LAW he was responsible to MAKE SURE no kids below 13 would go in and that otherwise he would have had to pay a substantial fine (and who cares, I wonder).

Thank God, we have good friends who had to stand-up hearing Isabella crying for one hour and half before I could let her be with them for going to the concert (Isabella was clearly disappointed she was not welcomed) and I really hope that those two guys will have hell of a life when/if they get kids.
This morning, I checked briefly on the internet & not and found out that:
1) I am the ultimate responsible for my kid. If I want to bring her to a concert, I just do it and if I do it without thinking about her hears, after all, it is just my issue (note, we had proper ears protections for her).
2) Socialstyrelsen should not dictate how many slices of bread I am supposed to eat during a day and it does NOT state if my kid is allowed in a concert or not.
3) Socialstyrelsen binds the event organizers to make sure that a certain dB level is used during the event. Below 13 years old, a certain level shall be used and they have to make sure such level is used.
4) Of course the ticket stated that there was an age limit, but it was up to THEM and not to the LAW to make an exception since it was the location putting such an age limit.
I hope it is clear what I am trying to say: there is a slight different "accent" to the matter, if we want to be really picky and they could and should have been a bit more flexible (or at least helpful and kinder).

Conclusion: despite this being a child-friendly country, we are not allowed to participate in religious or musical events (= we are not allowed to enjoy ourselves as we wish), hence, we are not surprised people alienate at home once they get kids.

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