I was warned this day would come, but I didn't think it would be quite so soon. I had quite an "American" moment when he first asked, but Anders and I talked about it, and we figure it's fine...this time. In a year or so, it won't be appropriate, but for now, they're just kids. He and Ebba have been a special "couple" since they were in daycare together. Apart from a period in 2nd grade when they got teased too much by some older kids and "broke up" they've been steady since they were 2 years old.
While Out Walking:
Martin was asking me about birthdays and how old he and his sister and his cousins all are in relation to each other. His oldest cousin, Anders' niece, turns 14 next week. She is nearly twice as old as Karin. Her little brother Henrik is 11 months older than Martin. My sister's daughter is exactly 1 year and 5 days younger than he is; she's 8 months older than Karin and HER little brother just turned 5. Martin and I worked all this out, and I said, "Wait, HOW old are you?" He gave me that long-suffering kid look. "9, going on 10," he said. "Oh my god, TEN! How can you be almost 10!? That's DOUBLE DIGITS! Pretty soon you'll be a sullen, grumpy, sarcastic teenager rolling your eyes and saying whatever, mom to me...oh wait, you do that already." I crack myself up. Martin rolls his eyes. A few minutes later he informs that when it is Karin's birthday, in July, he will be "halv-tio"*...this makes me laugh again. "You're 9:30?" I ask, and now he is laughing, too.
Somewhat later, both in the walk and the conversation, I say something that makes him roll his eyes and exclaim, "Whatever, mom." HA! I point at him. "See?! I was right!"
We walk on, enjoying the sunshine and the chill air, and listening to the sudden flurries of birdsong which have busted out all over this week. Yesterday Karin and I heard a couple of blackbird serenades and some red finches. Today, a complete chorus breaks out above our heads as we are reaching the top of Tulpanvägen. Martin and I stop and look up and locate the source: an entire flock of yellow finches perched high up in the still bare branches of a white birch tree. I lament my lack of foresight in bringing my camera along. We round the last corner toward home and have to fight against the sudden blast of wind that has been at our backs most of the way.
As the evening begins to descend, Martin has been delivered to Ebba's house and Anders has left for a hockey dinner in town. I ask Karin what she wants to eat for dinner. I have promised her a special mys evening, just the two of us. Without surprise, I hear her answer: SUSHI! "Okay," I say, "Let's go!" We jump into the car and drive into town to enjoy a yummy sushi dinner together. As she's finishing her sushi and polishing off the rest of her miso soup she gets a pensive look on her face. "What's wrong?" I ask her. "I'm already longing for the next time we have sushi," she says wistfully.
In the car on the way home, the sky is a rich cobalt blue. The stars aren't out yet but we can see bright satellites twinkling down low in several places. The windmills are all doing double-time, it's been super-windy all day and last night as well. As we start down the hill from Lund, I realize Karin has been awfully quiet for the entire drive. "Are you sleeping?" I ask her. "No," she says. "What are you doing?" A pause, then, "I was praying to God." This astounds me. "What? What were you praying for?" Offhandedly, she replies, "Oh, just something about sushi."
*Half past the hour in Swedish is stated as halfway to the next. So, our half-past-nine would be, in literal translation from Swedish, halfway-to-ten