They dumped a whole load of new sand into the sandbox across the street from our building. Huge mounds of silky, rock and twig-free sand. It is a sand builder’s dream, still damp under the dry surface. Suddenly, all of our sand toys work perfectly, even the stupid crab, whose little legs always get filled with stuck sand.
It is like I am one of those Tibetan monks who make elaborate sand mandalas.
Or not. I am more like an American dad who makes a series of sand frogs that look oddly like ancient religious idols, which are then smashed by his 17-month-old son.
Still, the lesson in impermanence is the same. I like my sand frogs, and they do not last.
I do have a serious point here though. The city of Solna replenishes the sand in this sand box every year. Talk about a commitment to the kids; there are many, many sand boxes in Solna. This is a subtle reason to love Daddyland.
The biggest Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, just ran a big series on how good it is for children to play outside. This seems self-evident to me. Do we really need research to prove that kids should be out in the forest and not inside on a summer day?
It appears so. But the research showed that kids that played in a preschool yard filled with uneven obstacles and mixed trees and rocks and playgrounds focused better than kids with a boring, flat playground.
And this is why we have stuck with NK’s preschool, even if we get grumpy about bigger class sizes and the way they handled her milk allergy. She has a forest for a yard. Literally. And now her younger brother will have a forest for a yard come this fall.
Now there are many boring, small yards at preschools in Solna. But there are also a fair amount of really cool ones – all at this amazing, subsidized price.
I do not want to even think what we would have to pay in the U.S. for a preschool setting like this.
So sand and pine trees and rocks. Pretty fundamental reasons why Sweden is paradise for families with small children.