Lagom is a very useful Swedish word. It means something like “just right” – not too much, not too little, actually not too anything, simply lagom. When my wife asked me tonight how much rice I want, I said lagom. When my wife asks me how big piece of birthday cake I want, I say lagom. When she cuts my hair – lagom. How much to fry the eggs – lagom. My wife’s bewilderment and frustration by my (over)use of the word has made it a standing joke in our family (hence my overuse). And lagom can indeed be a truly frustrating word even for me, since it is often impossible to know what is lagom for someone else.
Having a baby means a lot of carrying. Having a baby that is bigger that average, means a lot of extra strain on arms and knees and wrists and muscles and you name it. Being past the peak of youth (though imagining the peak has not yet come) means the body struggles more than it would have done ten years ago. To make a long story short – I got pain in my knee last autumn. Hoping it would recover, wanting to avoid visiting the doctor in times of corona, I struggled on with my hurting knee for six months before finally capitulating to the pain and visiting a close by orthopedic clinic.
While anticipating a rehabilitation regime as I previously had gone through for my back pain, I was surprised when the doctor only wrote a prescription for an anti-inflammatory cream to apply to the knee twice a day. While I am getting better at understanding what people are saying, the conversation in a doctors office is one of those times when I most feel lacking in comprehension. Fortunately my wife went with me, so she heard all about the explanations and the instructions for the anti-inflammatory cream. Or so I thought.
We went to the pharmacy, got the cream, came home just in time for dinner, bath and nightly preparations for our son. When it became my turn to go to sleep I remembered the anti-inflammatory cream, so I sat on the bed and started to put cream on my knee just to realize I had no idea what amount to use. I whispered to my wife, asking how much cream I should use; darling, what did the doctor say? My wife looked up at me – lagom of course, she said like it was the most natural thing in the world. And I felt that wow, she has become more Swedish than I am. That night I fell asleep frustrated but massively impressed, with probably either too little or too much cream on my knee.
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