As I approach my 1000th day of living in Denmark, I have been thinking about the "lessons" I have learned in my time here.
So on random days between now and my 1000th day, I thought I would share these "lessons"; both for your entertainment and for your "education" and to remind me how much I really have learned!!! This idea started HERE and now today's lesson is:
Day #874 of Living in Denmark
This is one of those "Big Ideas" that I have come to realize (and I am actually ok with...) You know all those prams/baby buggies you see outside houses and cafes? Yeah, the ones with BABIES sleeping inside them?? Well as I saw one the other day, I stopped to snap a pic with my phone not because it is a novelty anymore (because MAN, it used to shock the heck out of me when I first realized what I was seeing!!), but because it was a reminder of a really big lesson that I have learned these last 800+ days.
There are small (I am not talking about big immigration policy type stuff!) things, like the sleeping baby outdoors thing, that Danes do that I will never understand and that is ok. Being an immigrant does not require me to understand or accept some of their "special/unique/different" (see, I did not say weird!!) way of doing things! I just have to recognize that those things are important to their lives the same way that I have certain things that are important to me. I am sure there are plenty of foreigners living in Texas just shaking their heads when they see how we southern folk do certain things..... It's not our job to change them and in some cases, we really don't have to understand the WHY. We just have to accept them and move on.
I was surprised too in Sweden, but when I got my own kids, I let them sleep outside in the fresh air. And boy, did they sleep very very well!
Do you know about the Annette Sørensen case?
(Of course in many parts of the US, leaving a baby outside alone would be inviting the serious attention of the local wildlife.)
The first time I visited Norway my (soon-to-be at the time) niece was a newborn. It shocked the hell out of me that she was parked outside in her pram on Christmas Eve during dinner. Even after living here for two years, I still do an internal double take when I see prams outside a bakery in winter with the moms inside enjoying their coffees. Of course I the babies are warmer than I am, what with the sheepskins, sleeping bags, blankets, snow suits, hats and baby mittens....but still! Still! Babies outside!
Well it is kinda asking for trouble to leave an infant unattended in a pram. I prefer not to see it as a simple cultural difference, but rather as an act of foolishness.
I want to share an idea I have thought about for a few years. Prams are a small space and babies are usually bundled very very well or they would not sleep if they were cold. I am also thinking of the Navajo cradle board where children are bundled. I don't think babies can handle large spaces well. They master things at little tiny intervals. I have observed that babies who have a small comfortable space rather than a large one, develop better boundaries and act more secure. I used a bassinet when my children were young until they were 6 months. And then we went to a small playpen and crib. I have observed that non walking children who are just set on the floor and have lots of room actually have a low level anxiety over that many choices and have trouble focusing and playing independently. My children played for hours alone in a playpen happily. Their space was safe and clean, where the floor was not. People may disagree with me but these are just my own observations of many children over the past 50 years. I really support the idea of a big pram (not stroller) and being outside in the fresh air for hours.
There's plenty of research saying that babies prefer small snug spaces, but outside? Unattended? Nope, not for me (or my child, thankyouverymuch). I'll use a bassinet and play pen, but inside. When outside, my child will be supervised. There are cats and seagulls, both of which are not good at leaving a sleeping baby alone. If baby needs to be "aired" - why then, so do I! We'll take a walk or do something together. If it's a matter of fresh air, I have windows in my house and I'm not afraid to use them.
I have no problem with babies sleeping outside for a nap, but unattended babies? People go inside and leave their babies outside with no one watching them? Is there not a problem with kidnapping there? If not, that is a blessing. It is still shocking to think about leaving my baby anywhere by himself though.
I've never been clear what the issue here is, honestly. The Danes live in a nearly crime-free, high-trust society where no one is ever going to hurt your baby. Imagine the luxury of a safe place where you can trust. I know it seems shocking to Americans and Brits, but I don't know why. A high-trust society is really a different place, many things become possible. If you ask the Danes why they do it, you'll hear the usual answers: the babies like their little prams; the babies need their fresh air; the babies sleep better outdoors and don't get in the way of the housework; the vacuuming doesn't wake them up; etc. The Danes just aren't helicopter parents, and they don't have the "mommy guilt" American society thrives on. Since most American mothers do nothing but complain about the burden of "mommy guilt," why don't you lose it - and be joyful? :) Seriously. I wouldn't just "accept" this - I'd revel in it. Just my 2 ører.
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