socialism with an authoritarian twist — toddler style

My two-and-three-quarters-year-old daughter called us together for a samling this morning.  She had a pile of Easter basket grass and wanted us to taste her imaginary pasta.

Now a samling is a nice Swedish word that means gathering more than meeting.  They have a samling every morning at her daycare; in America it would be song time, or something, but that does not have the power of this word.

Gathering has such a nice collectivist touch.  I thought I could participate in the making of the imaginary pasta.

I was wrong.

In reality, samling means that you gather and then one person runs the meeting.  In this case, the toddler ran the meeting.

As I sat quietly, waiting for permission to eat my imaginary pasta, I reflected that this samling is reflected in Swedish society.  There is socialism, yes, but there is also a streak of authoritarianism.  There is consensus, but it is more consensus on what politician or what bureaucracy or what toddler is going to run your life.

I lived for more than a year in a grassroots peace project in post-war Croatia.  It was consensus run, for real.  This meant hour upon hour of meeting, of arguing, of people finally breaking down just to escape the smoke-filled room of endless talk.

I am glad I lived that.  And my complaining aside, I am a fan of modified consensus now.

So I want to like the samling.  But I can’t.  It carries too much of an Eastern Bloc touch.

And I am hungry.  I never got to eat my imaginary pasta.

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4 thoughts on “socialism with an authoritarian twist — toddler style

  1. Hi Nathan,
    I discovered your blog recently while doing research for an upcoming month long house swap trip to Sweden I’ll be doing with my partner and our 3 year old son beginning June 16th. We live in Portland, Oregon but have friends in Stockholm and will be swapping houses with them. They live in the “suburb” of Olovlund. We are obviously not familiar with the area and won’t know any young kids while we are there – but if you live in that area we would be glad to meet you and your 3 year old (and baby) at a park sometime.
    Also – can you recommend a cell phone system that we can use while we are there for that month that will work throughout Europe. We would like one that my partner and I could use just to communicate with each other when we happen to be separated. Thanks for any advice you might be able to give. I was thinking it would just be a pre-paid cell phone with a certain amount of minutes on it.
    Keep up the blog. It gets read.

    Scott

  2. Has it occurred to you that your child realizes that you need structure and that she simply is giving you the guidance that you need? Left to your own, of course you would have just eaten the imaginary pasta. You’re a glutton. Kudos to her for keeping you in check.

  3. Scott, you will be staying a fairly short bus ride from us, so we would love to have a play date sometime in June! As far as mobile phones go, all of Europe is on the same system (GSM), so any operator should work across the continent. Sadly, I do not know the best deal at the moment.

  4. You are right. I am out of control. I take seconds before NK gets anything. I make her push me on the swings. I insist on watching my favorite Sesame Street DVDs, not hers.

    Now she has her revenge. Damnit, I want that pasta!

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