So having had my gripe in the last blog session, I’m delighted to announce that I’m back to being exceedingly grateful for what a great kid AAH is.

Truly. Consider: here in Iceland we have community recreation centres, run by the city in conjunction with education authorities. They are located in every community [more or less] and their main purpose is to provide adolescents with a meeting place, promote healthy activities and a healthy lifestyle, keep them off the streets and to prevent alcohol and drug use. These are staffed by hip young adults [university students or others around the same age] and also have elected student representatives from the school – one for each grade in junior high school, i.e. grades 8, 9 and 10. The students work closely with the staff to shape the programme for the year and also help out at the various functions, selling refreshments, etc.

Last year, AAH was elected one of the student reps and this year she’s doing it again. What’s particularly great about this work, apart from the fact that it puts her in a position of leadership and helps boost self-esteem, etc., is that these kids are treated to all kinds of perks. Last year, just after she started, she shipped out to Akureyri with the other reps to a nationwide meet of all the community centres. There they spent Friday night having a pool party, all day Saturday doing a variety of workshops they’d signed up for in advance, and Saturday night at a massive barbecue and then party replete with live band, etc. And this year they’re going to Finland for a community exchange. The cost is 75% covered by the City of Reykjavík (via the community centre), they’ll do fundraising for the rest, and they’ll be met by their counterparts in Helsinki who will show them around. Next year, the plan is to go to England.

The thing I find most fantastic about the community centre work is that they’re so proactive in promoting a drug- drink- smoke-free lifestyle, without being tragically unhip. In fact, they’re very much used by most teenagers. And from what I can see there is a massive need for that sort of thing. AAH’s friends, one by one, are starting to experiment. In fact, she went to a party on Friday night [while I sat here griping] at which she witnessed two of her best friends get piss drunk and make utter fools of themselves. AAH was appalled. And very upset to see her friends doing that to themselves. We have a pretty open dialogue in this household about the potential destructive effects of intoxicants and AAH is very aware on that front – and thankfully trusts me enough to be frank with me about it. She’s even made a promise – to herself! – that she won’t start drinking until she finishes her O-levels [standardized testing] at the end of the next school year.

I can’t say enough how grateful I am for her level-headedness, common sense, strength, and – yes – courage. And also how kind of amazed I am. She’s certainly a lot more together than I was at her age, which makes my relief and gratitude even more profound. I know how easy it is to go off the rails. And apparently I’m not the only one who’s amazed, because most of the kids in her school are really surprised, too. Why? Because she’s one of the cool kids. Because she’s in with the in crowd, because she’s popular. Yet has the strength of character to be herself.

So while it’s probably normal to get peeved occasionally, there’s a lot to be thankful for. Lest we forget, and all that.

Because it’s stormy and raining like gangbusters and I’m desperately in need of an endorphin fix and it’s not going to be much fun getting it. It’s set to stay like this all day, with heavy precipitation and winds from the southeast of around 15-20m/s. Could be worse though, I guess. Could be from the north. [Can you tell I’m in grateful mode today?] Temps are 8°C and sunrise 10.17, sunset 17.05.

Addendum: Almost forgot the dirt on poor old Mr Iceland! Personally I haven’t seen anything in the media yet [DV doesn’t publish until tomorrow] but I noticed that Angel got the lowdown and blogged about it. So you can check it out there. [Incidentally, what is it with these ‘Friendster’ blogs? You can’t leave comments unless you’re a member or something. Sheesh! Talk about discrimination…