“You’re not like other mums, you’re scary” my darling son said to me, aged about 9 at the time, whilst comparing me to British mums. Whereas I possibly should have been offended by his off the wall comment, I took it as a huge compliment. After all, it meant I was doing a good job being a Finnish mum!
So what makes a Finnish mum scary? Let me explain to you.
- Finnish mums sound very scary. Even though your expat mum might have spent decades in the UK, she will still occasionally swear in Finnish. Although nobody knows the real meaning of the word PERKELE, everybody knows they are in great trouble when she angrily shouts out that particular word.
- Finnish mums make their children dress for the weather. This means that you WILL wear a hat and gloves if it is cold, and she honestly couldn’t care less if all your other classmates are wearing shorts to school. If the weather requires winter clothing, she will find you some, even if it means getting long johns (fi pitkät kalsarit) sent over from Finland.
- Finnish mums don’t allow fussy eaters. There will be one dinner served, and that is it. Your choice is to eat or not to eat, and she firmly believes no child will starve to death voluntarily. So if you are the child of a Finnish mum, you will probably have tasted both elk and reindeer before your 5th birthday and happily enjoyed both. We actually served reindeer sandwiches at son’s 4th birthday party, which was enjoyed by several of our guests, although admittedly many of them did not tell their children they were eating Rudolph!
- Finnish mums believe in healthy eating and you will only occasionally be allowed in a fast food restaurant or allowed to eat sweets. When visiting McDonalds, she will insist on ordering milk for you instead of a fizzy drink, and if you are given a tube of Smarties sweets, she will confiscate the blue ones because she doesn’t agree with artificial colourings and E numbers, claiming they are unhealthy and give you a sugar rush. (Instead, she will secretly eat them herself and giggle hysterically when the sugar rush hits her!)
- Finnish mums do not tolerate rudeness and will have no qualms about telling you off in front of other people. Also, do remember that if you are a male child, your Finnish mum holds a trump card over you for years to come. Any rudeness, especially in teenage years, will be met with the threat that she will make you do your military service in the Finnish Army!
- And lastly, Finnish mums will happily take on the British education system if required. If she is not happy with something at her child’s school, she will more than eloquently make her view of point heard. She believes in a good education, and if she thinks her child is not getting one, she will not be afraid of voicing her opinion. I still feel sorry for my son’s Secondary School headmaster, who when son’s Spanish lessons were withdrawn, happened to make the mistake of telling me to my face that the reason for them being withdrawn was that “most people in Britain don’t see the advantage of learning another language”. That was like a red rag to a bilingual Finnish mum and I found myself pointing out to him, that luckily that was not the attitude in Finland, because if it had been, we would not be having this conversation now, as I would not have been fluent in English! (And guess what, the Spanish lessons were put back on!)
So what do we learn from this? That Finnish mums run a tight ship and never underestimate a Finnish woman, especially a mum!
Love and peace to everyone!