Three things I dislike:

– Outside activities

– Gardening

– People

To be more specific:

Outside activities

Because I’m really not an outdoor person at all. Which is just wrong, if you’re a Finn. We have such an unique nature, we have clean forests and rivers and lakes, we have something that many people don’t have, and we enjoy it. Except if you don’t. But you have to. Fresh air is the cure for everything from headaches to depression. You need fresh air, you need to go outside, you need to be active. A child needs to be outside in any weather every day for at least two hours, in addition to the hours they need to spent sleeping outside, even during winter. It’s recommended for a small child to take their naps outside. And you need to be there too with them. Until they’re old enough to go outside alone. Depending on where you live, it’s anything ranging from 4 to 10. Usually.

I don’t like going outside. It’s always too cold, or too hot, too wet or too dry, too sunny and bright, or too dark and gloomy. I don’t enjoy a brisk wind punching me in the face, the mosquitos trying to kill me, constantly tripping over in the woods trying to pick lingonberries (which I hate), or splashing through the slush covering the roads for most of the winter months.

Gardening

This is why, after trying to live the dream of living in a house with an actual white picket fence, I moved into an apartment building. I thought I wanted what everyone should want, a house of our own, just outside the city, with a big yard and a garden to grow our own strawberries and potatoes in. But learning that everything I tried to plant and grow died very fast or didn’t even start to grow, and the things that shouldn’t grow, weeds and other things, were taking over my lovely half an acre of land. And I did not enjoy the work that went into the effort one bit. After a
while I realized it’s just not a life for me.

People

Well I like some people, and tolerate others, but I guess you’d call me an introvert. I like children, they are usually very much fun to talk to. Sometimes I like other people’s children more, since I can just rile them up with tickles and candy and fun and then leave them to their parents to take care of. With my own I have to be the mean one making them clean their rooms and brush their teeth.

I’m not good at small talk, and I feel uncomfortable being around people I don’t know or are attached to. I don’t feel the need to be surrounded by others, I like being alone, or with the very few I really like, a friend, a sister, a partner.

 

So why am I spending my Saturday raking leaves in the yard of our apartment complex with a bunch of people I have never seen before? Well, we just moved in to this new place, and we want to make a good impression. Want to fit in, I guess it’s in our nature? Luckily, we moved just in time to attend this apartment communities happening for everyone to help keep our living area neat and shiny and nice. It’s a common thing in Finland, called Talkoot.

Essentially Talkoot is voluntary work, a community thing, it’s where a group of people with a common interest, in this case the interest being that we all live in this small area of row houses, another common thing in Finland, gather together to make something happen. Like building a fence, or painting a fence, or cleaning the yard in the spring on the fall. Ours was of course for the raking of the leaves and cleaning to prepare for winter.

And for the people participating, there’s coffee and sausages and cookies and candy and soda for the kids. For free. Sometimes soup, if it’s a lot of work, like building a garage. And everyone pitches in, it builds our sense of togetherness. You get to know your neighbors, you belong. And you get free coffee, and I guess that could be a reason we went there too. Or the candy and cookies for kids. Except that we were way too late, going out at noon, when everyone else started way earlier, and there were no candy or cookies left. But there were coffee and sausages. I don’t like coffee or sausages either.

— Editors

The writer of this story is a member of the Mom of Finland community.


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