Monday, September 22, 2014

The Reflective Swedish Child

Kids like me. For whatever reason, kids like me. They smile at me. They reach for me. They start conversations with me in the laundry room and tell me how they prefer spending time at their mom’s house, even though when they’re at their dad’s house they get to eat a lot of potato chips and did I know that they could spin around on this chair, watch. Sometimes they awkwardly call me dad, when I am, without a doubt, not their dad. And I say awkward, because in fact their actual father is standing right next to them.

There should probably be a transition sentence somewhere in here. Oh well. Just stay with me. The paragraph above and the paragraph below are related. Kind of.

I substitute taught for a semester. Everything from third grade to AP Calculus. It was a strange experience. And it was one that made me very much appreciate the lives of elementary school teachers. Because those things are exhausting. Groups of small children, I mean.

Even after substitute teaching, I like kids. Mostly. I’m just not so sure I’d want to have any of my own. I like kids because I can give them back. Plus, I’m a selfish asshole, something that I’m sure a small child would eventually realize.

But knowing how exhausting small children can be and knowing how exhausting teaching can be, I couldn’t help but shake my head in admiration the other day on my way to the archives. I was sitting quietly listening to my morning podcast when suddenly a small band of roaming children stepped onto the bus wearing yellow reflective vests. Maybe 15 of them? Maybe 20? Maybe 372? I don’t know. They’re so small and flighty. It makes counting hard. And then, out of nowhere, three women climbed on. And they did the impossible. They herded cats. And by cats I mean 372 small children on the bus. They got everyone a seat. They got everyone settled down. They got everyone where they needed to be. And then, they got everyone off the bus several stops later. Nothing of note happened. At all. Which, in my opinion, is noteworthy.

Just a day or two later, I spotted another roaming band of children. This one a bit smaller. Maybe only 236 children. The reflective vests are disorienting. Like the reflective mirroring of schools of herring. Again, teachers were there, herding, cajoling, encouraging, teaching even. It was an impressive sight. And so I took a picture. Because, let’s be honest, it’s pretty damn cute seeing a bunch of small kids walking around dressed like miniature construction workers.

Don't be confused, Swedish construction companies do not rely on child labor.
Welcome to Sweden. And reflective children. Literally.


  1. Hahaha! You always make me laugh, Hairy :)
    I also enjoyed the herring simile - you are truly Swedish.