Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Sweden is Babyland.

Yeah, people are, arguably, babied a bit by the government, which many Swedes will readily tell you (a big controversy at the moment are the high numbers of people on, er, "disability" - sjukskriven they call it - because their doctors have written them notes to bring to their bosses saying they have a tummyache and it's going to last two months so they have to stay home and drink flat gingerale. Or something like that.)

But I was thinking of Sweden as Babyland more because there seems to be a baby boom going on. The government encourages babying on many levels, apparently. For instance, parents get some $100 per month per child from the government to cover the cost of raising a child. Parents also get nearly a year and a half of parental leave when a child is born, to be divided as they wish, much of that time at 80 percent pay. There is special sick leave when a parent must stay home to take care of a child, and there is universal daycare. The country is a veritable Parentopia.

I want to have a child.

(I think the fact that all my friends are having babies is having an effect on me. After all, who could resist the charms of, say, Hannes Pakarinen, who on New Year's played the part of The Perfect Baby - those cheeks! that nose! those little rabbit booties!)

Am I crazy?

The Swedish phrase for the day is vad har hänt? It means what has happened?

by Francis S.

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