Monthly Archives: August 2014

A philosophical question by a three-and-a-half-years old

Yesterday Niklas was glad to discover that I was working on my computer in the guest room, next to his bedroom, when he woke up.

He decided that he wanted to sleep on the guest sofa a little and allowed me to continue my work. He didn’t sleep as announced. He laid comfortably on his back, head on his palms and scanned the ceiling and the room.

“Mama, do I steer my eyes?”

The question startled me and I turned to Niklas to find out more.

He continued. “Do people steer their eyes, or do the eyes steer themselves?”

He has put this question in German pronouncing the word “eyes” as “Óigen” instead of “Augen”.

I was amazed at this question. “Wow! This is a very good question”, I said.

Niklas beamed.

I started to contemplate aloud about a possible answer. He listened to me attentively without interrupting.

Then I said, “I think it is both, sweetie. At times, when we want to see something, we direct our eyes to the thing we want to see. And sometimes we see something, what we don’t expect, but what surprises us and draws our interest.”

Niklas thought for a second, smiled, nodded and said, “Now you can look again at your computer.”

Phew! Exam passed.

Picture: Close your eyes and make a wish.


Taken care of by a small child – Part 2

The title of this blog post is incorrect. My son, Niklas insists that he is a big boy. He is almost four, but he says he is three and half years old. And he can take care of others. He does it every day. In his own wonderful way.

Recently, he made one of my wishes come true.

Shortly after Easter we found out that our family of three will become a family of four by the end of the year.

We are awaiting a girl.

Niklas was very disappointed when we found this out, because he wanted a little brother, whose name would be Gilbert, after one of his best friends at the kindergarten.

I started searching in the internet for popular girl names. I read through the list to Michael, my husband, and Niklas. Michael said he liked all names on the list.

After several days, my favorite name became Emma. I realized it when I talked to my niece and a girlfriend of mine about Jane Austen and also about her books from other authors based on Austen’s books. “Emma” by Alexander McCall Smith comes out end of this year. And Emma has been always my favorite from Austen’s characters.

When I considered why, I was surprised. It was not because she was perfect. On the contrary, she had flaws, was a little arrogant and at times a bit ignorant to wishes of others. She thought she knew what was good for others. But I like her because she was willing to learn. And she was kind, sweet and quirky. With time she became even more kind, attentive, humble without losing her sweetness or quirkiness.

As I thought of this, I realized that someday I want to give this book to my daughter. I would like her to know that I don’t expect her to be perfect. I just want her to find her way and be healthy and happy along this way. And to live long. These are the three wishes I have for my children, my husband and all people I hold dear to my heart. That they are healthy, happy and live long. For me, these three include everything else. For example, one of the character features I value the most, the ability and wish to learn and be curious, is on my opinion a component of being happy.

But Niklas had of course another idea. He wanted his sister to be named Gitte Marie. I argued that we need only one name, because so far in our family every one of us has only one given name. Niklas claimed that Gitte Marie was only one word, one name. He pronounced it in one breath. GitteMarie.

Niklas talks a lot about the new baby at the kindergarten and that he will be a big brother soon. The educators put many warm and interested questions to me about the pregnancy and how I feel and how we talk about it in the family.

I told them about GitteMarie and their answer was: “How sweet! But he probably means Ida Marie. This is the girl we have here and this is the only name coming close to what Niklas says.”

On the same day on the way home, I told Niklas about his friend Ida Marie at the kindergarten and her name. I completely forgot to think or to talk about my preferences. I only mentioned that we need to have one name. Not two.

Suddenly, Niklas asked me: “What name do you prefer?”

“Emma”, I said.

“So be it. Let her be Emma.”

This was a big surprise for me. “Are you sure?”


“Ok, but we will need to ask your Dad if he agrees.”

The first thing Niklas did when we entered our apartment was running to his Dad and asking, “Papa, do you have anything against my baby sister being called Emma?”

Michael looked surprised and answered with a smile, “Nothing at all.”

Niklas looked triumphantly at me and said, “So it is decided. She will be Emma.”

Since then, I started calling my daughter by her first name when I talk about her or to her. And every time I say “Emma”, Niklas’ face brightens up as if remembering, “Ah yes, this is my baby sister!”

This sweet story will always remain in my memory. Niklas didn’t only make one of my wishes come true but he did also something else: he embraced this idea as his own and was very proud of it. I am very proud of my son and thankful to him that he reminded me how wonderful it is to say yes to what is coming our way, also when we take a little time to say yes.

Picture: Niklas and I and a swing.


What is “it” in “Worth it”?

Isn’t it amazing how many different fears we have? One of my fears was and sometimes is to do something which is not worth it.

But what exactly should this something be worth? I couldn’t answer this question immediately after it appeared. But one was clear, this “it” was in the future.

Was this the reason, why I couldn’t answer what “it” was? Of course! If I think of the present, then I know what “it” is. Every activity should bring at least an ounce of fun. Any activity should be worth having fun.

And how is this achieved? By being here, of course! And not comparing the current moment or activity to anything else. Either in the past or in the future.

You think, we can’t compare to the future? We sure can. We do it all the time. Because we define our future by our expectations. Whether good or bad.

So, here we go again. Don’t expect and you’ll be surprised.

Pictures: last weekend was definitely worth it. Celebrating birthday of my best friend and niece Mihaela, together with the family and our loved ones. The day was full of surprises. Here are two of them, both related to the Gamle By (Old City) in the middle of Århus. A modern building “photo-bombing” the view of the old city, and me posing with the founder of the same city. Earlier I thought I would be too serious or too old for this kind of “silly” fun. Today I more and more often think that having fun is very clever in itself.

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What do I have to do to be bored?

Yesterday on a train ride from Århus to Aalborg, together with my son, I saw a boy and his younger sister, both in the beginning of their teens. They set at the opposite side of the aisle. Both were pretty rough with each other. Slapped and pushed each other, but laughed at the same time.

Niklas was watching fascinated. I concluded to him and to me, “They are just bored and can’t find an occupation, which can interest them here in the train.”

But were they really bored? It might have been also my interpretation. Niklas revealed my resistance against their behavior by saying, “They just make jokes and fun.”

Although I still disapproved the way the two children treated each other, I had to admit that I was afraid that my son would copy them and be as rough to his sibling coming in December or his friends.

So after recognizing that my reaction was dictated by this fear, I stopped resisting, which I had to do several times because the fear was coming back, and read in a magazine or looked outside of the window and enjoyed the changing view of fields and villages we were passing by.

Something interesting happened a little bit later. The lack of my attention to them, which I paid by glaring at them at the beginning, led to two occurrences. Niklas stopped watching them and started playing with my hand as if it were a robot’s hand. We both enjoy this game. Second, the two children changed seats farther from us and closer to the exit.

Today something else happened which made me think about boredom. I read two e-mails from a new member of the meet-up group I have initialized in Aalborg. The man wrote that he moved to Aalborg in February and claimed the city to be boring so far. He also suspected the fact that only three people were planning to meet coming Friday, promised the meeting to be boring as well.

These e-mails became a puzzle to me, which I was eager to solve in the first minutes after reading the mails. I noticed that I became a bit too involved and thought of defending of what our meet-up is about.

But when I tried to understand what boredom was, I could look at these messages remotely and calmly.

I found the following synonyms to boring: dull, repetitive, or tedious.

It is interesting that the word boring is sometimes understood in an absolute way, but the other three words do sound as labels. And as soon as we hear a person using an obvious label, we know that his or her opinion is very subjective. This led me to another thought: boredom is not objective. It never can be.

So, what do I have to do to be bored? I just have to complain that where I am or what I am doing is not where I want to be or to do.

And this is what this young man joining our meet-up didn’t recognize yet. His resistance and complaint about coming to Aalborg prevents him enjoying life here and discovering wonderful people and beautiful surroundings.

It was interesting for me to discover that boredom goes hand in hand with complaint.

In train I didn’t have this recognition yet. But by doing what I liked I could forget my complaint and leave those seemingly dull and tedious things behind me.

Picture: I will never get tired of books. If I start complaining about one in my head, I know I can always find another which will fascinate me. This big book in Astrid Lindgren’s World in Vimmerby fascinated me as soon as I saw it.