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Update on the 3 munchkins

While 7 month old Inge has made the occasional sound, some of which sound more intentional than most, today is the first time I noticed her play a game (almost intentionally) with me.

It started innocently enough. I was trying to feed her some smushy food and demonstrated, opening my mouth saying aaaah. She ignored me. I exaggerated the sound, and she, rascal inscrutable infant that she was, started giggling. So I filmed her.

Afterwards, when I focused on my own food, she would say ‘aah!’ to gain my attention. I consider this a step up from crying, or staring at you avidly until you notice. So thumbs up Inge for another step on the path to communicating with us big ‘uns!

Moving on to my backlog of notes over September to now. I would like to continue with the kids throughout our vacation and after … though it will be less detailed as I’d like it to be, I suggest if you do not care for minutiae of other people’s children you might stop reading now : )

I bought a hand drill for the kids this time in the States. Knox can use it independently. Quit needs help as her hand is smaller.

We went to Harbe’s Farm for the end of summer corn and kid activities. I have always loved bouncy castles growing up. So it was a sweet feeling when I watched Quin, being the slow warmer-upper that she is, finally found out how fun it was too.

What with this and jumping on hotel beds, she has become quite the bouncier girl upon our return.

A few incidences popped up during our vacation which involved administrative work. At one point, Mike had to make some calls regarding our flight tickets in the hotel room. A hotel room is not generally a child-friendly place, so besides jumping from bed-to-bed (which would have been too rambunctious), the kids put their hands on the hotel phone. I immediately unplugged it and decided to play an impromptu phone game (I may have been nursing Inge at the time, so was not mobile). I had noticed that the children were not completely aware how to carry on a phone conversation. So here are the characters I played:

– the laundry man.
– the hotel person.
– the police.
– your grandmother.

it appeared the children were much more vocal when they felt it to be a game I was playing with them. When I felt their loquaciousness had reached a cheerful level, I called my mother-in-law (immediate application). It was so lovely to see how their confidence carried over into what seemed more like an actual conversation than usual.

And oh, how I enjoyed the kids enjoying the playgrounds in New York City. We went to Hippo Park, Pier 25 playground, and we went twice to Heckscher Playground (Central Park). A part of Heckscher was swings and sandpit and rope jungle-gym and stone slide (of a demure incline), but the kids were drawn to the ‘risky’ stuff – the long long slide, the tire swing that goes all around and your sister sit in it too and you stand on it! And the castles with small passageways and staircases and little barely-there steps on the sides of the walls that you can scale which are very non-adult friendly. But the crowning glory were the boulders! Miniature hills cunningly designed to appear precarious. The kids tried them again and again. We sat on one and had a take-out picnic lunch. The last thing they were doing before we called them away was walking all over those rocks!

Am I gushing? Yes. Because I remember what a drive it was as a child to climb and walk and hop over high rocks. I have even dreamed about it (because the opportunities were so few).

Upon our return to Taiwan, Knox (4 years, 9 months) reminded me of things I needed to prepare so he would be able to bring it to school. I feel immensely grateful that he is such a responsible human, for truly I am that parent who forgets to bring stuff (Mike rarely is).

Knox also asked a few new questions. He asked why there is war. And (I think a few days later?) he asked what is a god. He referred here to the character Thor that some child had told him of. Mike explained how some people believe that there is a god. I believe we also gave him a brief narrative about war, but I don’t recall the whole precisely.

The Sydney opera house is in one of our books featuring buildings. So one day Quin told me she would like to go to Sydney tomorrow.

Me: But it’s a very long way away. We may not be going there anytime soon!

Quin: That’s okay. I can just sit in the stroller.

 


Overheard Mike quote this week: Helping means doing the things that need to be done, not just whatever you feel like doing.

Explaining things

At dinner time today Knox told me he noticed that young men like to play the fighting monsters on their phones. “You mean video games?” “No, the fighting monsters on their phones… it’s called video games?” “I think so… where did you see this?” “In the MRT. I secretly looked at what they were doing on their phones.”
 
“Yes, those are called video games. It’s very attractive to young men, you noticed. You have been observing!”
 
“Yes I have!”
 
I then talked a little about the idea that we used to be hunters & gatherers (some controversy here, I know, but it’s one explanation he can start from and debunk in future if opportunity arises), and that is why little girls, even when they are babies, are very drawn to pretty patterns, particularly red that might be food they can gather to eat. “And I did too!” Knox said, and I said no, you didn’t do that when you were a baby, but both Quin and Inge really liked my (flower pattern) bag and would want to touch it. and I showed my bag. Knox nodded. Yes he was really not interested in my bag.
 
“And little boys, they are often drawn to things that move, particularly animals they can hunt and eat. So that is why many little boys like cars, because their eyes like to track things that move.” (the tracking thing is proven)
 
And then I said: That’s why many boys and men like video games. Because it satisfies something in them. But you know, if they satisfy this too much, they won’t have time to do anything else. Like meet girls, and take care of babies. If your daddy were playing video games all the time he wouldn’t be taking care of you and your sisters!
 
“And I want to get married and take care of my children too! So I won’t play video games.”
 
“Oh I’m not saying that video games are bad. They can be satisfying in some ways. I’m just saying that you need to make sure you have time to do all the other things you want to do too.”
—————————————————————–
So many things that I felt while having this conversation with him: Is it comprehensible? Would he understand? (he seemed to) Am I trying to control him or offer him a tool? I am happy that he appears interested in this story and was able to listen.
 
But predominantly I feel grateful that there has been so much discovered about our world, that I can tell him interesting nonfiction stories that might help him make sense of his life and how he may want to live it. I truly feel that it is important to know your options. Mike occasionally explains things to Knox when he asks, and I can really see Knox’s comprehension from this patient talk of his father’s come out through the things he says – concepts building upon concepts, which only makes it easier for us to explain increasingly complex concepts.
 
Afterwards we watched a documentary about birds building nests. I was touched by how the narrator said “and all things leads to this – the next generation.” incidentally reinforcing the message about the purpose of our lives. So life continues. And it is precious.
 
We had previously talked about how hurt people are more likely to hurt other people. And how someone who seems angry might actually be hurting… and so many other interesting things, many of which I had only learnt in the past few years. 
 
Other thing I hope to eventually cover as opportunity arises:
– reproductive costs for human females vs males

It was surprising to me that video games would come up now. At this rate I’m gonna soon run out of interesting factoids for them!
 
*sorry about the hetero-central theme here!

A cog in the machine

I discovered this journal entry in one of the notebooks I was hoping to repurpose today.

This was a written back when I was considering putting 1 year old Knox into nursery during my postpartum month, and later to continue my education. I was also learning a lot about Montessori at the same time, but felt that surely the standard nursery education should have come a long way and would adequate. Alas, after exploring the options, I decided to continue as a SAHM.

note: The 3 schools I visited where those that were closest to the place we were living at the time. They are an extremely small sampling and is in no way representative of the general quality of nursery schools in Qatar.

2013/6/12

Visting 3 nurseries about here today. Am very worried. You could say the space was colorful, varied, and lively – but what I saw was chaotic, bedazzling, and distracting. I feel that it would be irresponsible to put Knox into such spaces, where there is no rhyme or reason to the decor. Yes they have child level furniture, yes they have toys that fascinate him – but are they what would help him form into a person who can take mastery of his environment? I fear it merely offers a holding space for him, to hold him alive, healthy, and fairly content during this age of immature capacity and maximum inconvenience to adults.

I am sure much thought is put into some activities, but is the effect to seemingly instruct and/or entertain – or is it to put education at the higher level – to allow the children to create for themselves, to allow the children to be capable of taking care of themselves and contribute to the community, to build their capacities in this way, using means/language that is theirs?

That they may seem occupied by a performance may not mean that they are truly learning. Man’s highest understanding comes from going the journey. I recall many activities that were presented to me in the foggiest of manners – that were presented so well as a product could be made at the end of a 45 minute session – a painting, a fabric doll – but no understanding of what had taken place was established. Perhaps it is, as they say, planting a seed. But I would have dearly loved to have learnt how to create my very own rag dolls, rather than be given patterns for construct without understanding I would have preferred to attempt something sub par … had that space been given. Instructorship in that manner only proves the superiority of the instructor, not to the growth of the pupil. I was taught to acquire the skills of craft, but only at the level of a cog in the machine.

 

 

A few things about newborns

  1. Infants are obligate nasal breathers: So they can breath and eat at the same time, yo!
  2. Infants have unconscious attention – that is, they cannot help having their attention drawn to certain forms of stimuli. This explains their ‘interest’ in:
    • contrasting colors
    • Any sort of video
    • Sound. Particularly the proclivity of adults to use higher pitched, repetitive noises when speaking to infants – because they pay most attention and are most responsive to such.
  3. Infants do not start out in life imitating adults. They only become gradually aware of their own behavior when adults imitate them. (ex: Notice that infants pause after you imitate them.) Meaning response from adults appears to be key to a baby’s budding communication wiring:
    • Babies are very aware of the non-verbal cues provided by adults through facial expression. They appear to control the pace of conversation by maintaining eye contact or by dropping their gaze. Either babies or adults may initiate the conversation; however, when babies react to the gaze of an adult and fail to receive a response they lapse into silence. Babies and toddlers need to be able to get adults’ attention. – Macleod-Brudenell, Advanced Early Years

 

The fact that most of what we are influenced by starts out subconsciously (and perhaps even after we are grown), tells me that it is particularly important the we prepare the young child’s environment with care. For example, if we hope to improve the aesthetic taste of our next generation, it would be nice to choose items that at least fulfill our adults standards of beauty. I recently finally got down to making the Munari Mobile prescribed by Dr. Montessori. It is fairly simple to make, but when finished I was quite impressed with the entire aspect of the item.

If you google Munari you come up with a plethora of his beautiful artwork, which are exemplified by simplicity and grace.

On another note, I really like the maternal/infant care videos by Global Health Media. I find them amazingly practical, clear, and informative. Below is a video about initiating breastfeeding, with the ‘infant crawl’. To see it is to believe it!

Little things

 

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A daddy longlegs was walking across the glass. It froze when we noticed it, stopping with one leg poised on a book, as though it were in its way. Knox brushed everything off the glass top so it would have space to walk.

 

 

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Small planes nursing off big plane, and a flying dinosaur. A few days later Knox found feathers and added them to the planes as well.

 

 

Things I do not want to forget. So many small and lovely things.

Day before last Mike made Inge gurgle with laughter while playing with her after work at the dinner table. First time she laughed.
——-
Quin: When we grow up you can give us coffee? 我們長大可以給我們喝咖啡嗎?
Me: When you grow up you can make your own! 長大可以自己泡喔!
Quin: When you and daddy grow small I will take you to the park. 你跟爸爸變小的時候我會帶你們去公園。

If only life were such a circular blessing my love!

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混血兒父母希望你知道的事

在國外,碰到朋友孩子金髮碧眼,我先生常常開玩笑說若朋友帶孩子來台灣玩,會像明星一樣受歡迎。

明星一樣受歡迎,感覺是很美好,其實對正常人來說都是一種困擾。因為你沒有被當作人看待,而是被物化,當作一個公共財:別人占用你的時間,探尋你的隱私,評斷你的行為穿著,問一些用屁股想都會覺得沒有禮貌的問題,都被當作理所當然。

不巧今天帶孩子去一趟醫院,全都給我遇到了。

先是在候診室,我們剛坐下,坐我們旁邊一位年紀大一點的女人突然從口袋裡掏了兩顆糖,馬上遞給我的孩子。我說不要,她嘴上說:『不給孩子吃糖喔?沒關係這沒有很甜。』手還是一直伸出來。兒子動作很快就拿了一個,女兒看看我,拒絕了。後來我轉過頭沒有理那人,她自顧自的說:『你看我也吃糖。糖很安全。』我都沒有再搭理她,更不用說道謝或叫孩子說謝謝。這種事情常常發生:在路上牽著女兒,她很累邊走邊哭,突然一個阿伯跑出來送她一個熊。我拒絕,他堅持拿到女兒手上。

我們每個家長都有自己不同的理由,不讓孩子拿別人的禮物。我知道你是善意的,但跟年幼的孩子交易前有先問過照顧者嗎?你認識這個孩子的需求嗎?你有負責孩子生病照護營養教養金錢觀嗎?你知道這孩子等下要吃飯,可能有過敏,血糖問題,媽媽已經說好一天一顆糖,現在需要學會忍耐,回到家玩具太多亂丟的問題…等等,而你是他的誰?或許你是好人,但你覺得陌生人給糖孩子都應該欣然接受嗎?對別人的孩子,這是你有權利做的教養決定嗎?

女人看診出來,我女兒現在坐到她離開的位子上,她要等單子,後面有其它的位子,她屁股直接坐到女兒坐的位子上,把女兒擠一邊。我覺得她生氣了。

很對不起,我沒有用心跟妳明說,為什麼妳給我孩子糖我會不想理妳。我太懶了,想說妳年紀比我大,應該比我見過世面,這種事情應該了解。想想,或許我們社會,許多人上了年紀,就沒有人再花心思跟他們溝通,所以他們反而像寵壞的孩子,看不到自己的樣子,越來越難與人相處。我 “顧你的面子”,不跟你明說,這樣似乎是害了你。妳覺得妳是善意,是單純。但對我來說,真正的善意,和滿足自己一時興起的“善舉”是有所差別的。

後來我們看完診找了個空的桌子吃便當,ㄧ個志工阿姨靠過來問了以下的問題:

『他們是雙胞胎嗎?』

『都是女生噢?』

『怎麼會自己吃飯?』

『大的是男生!怎麼長得那麼像女生!』

『好可愛,好秀氣!』(N次)

『你是女生嗎?』(問我兒子)

『先生是哪裡人?在這裡工作喔?』

『做什麼工作?』(我裝作沒聽到)

『那是什麼湯匙?』(我裝作沒聽到)

『怎麼會說中文?』(後面N次我裝作沒聽到)

『你們都是女生嗎?』(媽媽OS:不是剛剛說一個是男生了。)

『會自己吃飯喔!』(N次)

『妳自己帶出來沒有人幫妳喔?』(妳要幫我嗎?)

『怎麼不吃了?這樣長不大噢!』(因為妳在旁邊一直對著他們說話…,過程中還拉了另一個志工阿姨一起來評論+問問題。)

這過程中我回答很簡略,降低眼神接觸(我以前表明沒有錢,事實上就是沒有錢,但還是會被推銷的纏很久,後來發現:因為我會一直微笑的眼神接觸,所以漸漸不敢了。),也擺明在認真吃飯。整個質詢過程我只有問一個問題:

『妳們沒有要吃午餐喔?』

請問妳是誰?為什麼我在這裡專心吃飯要被質詢?你知道嗎:如果你問候了一下,發現我沒有要開始跟你分享我的生命故事的意願(我知道,有些人真的在等待有人可以傾吐,但那不是現在在吃快要冷掉的便當,且趕著讓孩子回家睡午覺的我),你簡單說一句:『好你們慢慢吃噢!』然後優雅地走開,我心中仍會保有你身為一個值得讓我尊重的陌生人的美好形象。你若想表達心中看到孩子的喜悅,一句:『看到這麼小的孩子真是讓人開心。』是相當得體的。或許以後我們有緣再見面,你我那時很閒,我們都可以再聊聊。現在,我只會覺得避之唯恐不及。

因為你知道嗎?不只是混血兒的父母,現在越來越多父母不希望自己的孩子因為長相而被人有不同的對待。而且這樣的“質詢”方式,或許你覺得你在表達善意,但事實上一直問別人家家庭的事情,評判你所看到東西表象,完全忽略那人的肢體語言所表達出的接受度,並不是一種友善的溝通方式。

最後,坐公車回家的路上,有好心的女人讓座,我抱著女兒,一個男子一直盯著她看。女兒就衝著他給了一個笑容,我看看那男的臉,還是面無表情的看她,讓我當媽都覺得毛骨悚然。在公共場合,你不會沒有理由盯著一個陌生人吧?孩子有什麼不一樣?

這裡,我整理出幾點讓外籍或混血兒父母往往表現出 ”不友善,冷淡,高傲“ 的作為:

  1. 一直提到孩子的長相 (有一點意識的父母都不希望自己孩子還沒有成熟前就被自己的外貌定義。大多數有自信的孩子反而會對只會評斷自己長相的大人反感。)
  2. 不經同意就擅自給孩子禮物,摸孩子。(兒童是有監護人的人類,不是寵物。話說,你也不會未經允許的餵別人的寵物吧?)
  3. 不經同意就擅自給孩子拍照(孩子不是公仔。那些拍廣告的兒童通常都是有賺錢的。連我身為父母分享孩子的照片都仔細考量的。)
  4. 一劈頭就質詢別人身家問題。(對,我是台灣人,但我沒有義務講個有趣的故事來讓你娛樂。那些上節目很健談的外籍人士和配偶是有酬勞的。)

不過只說不該做的事有點不公平。我相信有些人是真正的友善,好奇,但不知道如何正確表達,所以說一下一些我們覺得比較正常的互動模式:

  1. 同樣身為父母的交流(『我也有兩個孩子,他們現在都大了。小時候他們個性完全不同blah blah blah…』)
  2. 起碼有一點關聯的交流(『現在在跟我男朋友考慮要結婚生小孩,但怕負擔不起。你們生兩個會覺得很累嗎?blah blah blah…』『我姊姊最近認識一個美國人,但他說只想dating,那是什麼意思?不是交男朋友嗎?blah blah blah』)—> 這種也要有點用心的開頭,看看人家的反應,不是直接切入。
  3. 『看到你的孩子快樂的樣子很美好。』(這類的話純抒發自己的感受,沒有去評斷別人。)
  4. 『需要幫忙嗎?』(父母焦頭爛額忙孩子時,實質幫助比沒有意義的描述情形還有幫助,但願意/想要介入還是要先問!)
  5. 陌生孩子很無聊跟孩子玩/對話 – 可以友善的微笑,年幼的可以扮鬼臉,可以聊在玩的東西但不是主導談話的聊。通常不摸小孩。

說來說去,這其實跟是不是混血兒沒有關係。只是正常與有孩子陌生家庭的交流。有些家長也覺得”混血兒“這詞相當刺耳 – 同樣都是人類,沒有雜種這種事情啊!這只是因為我們的孩子有時候長得比較顯眼,似乎比較常引起一些人一時之間理智斷線,對待人正常的禮儀都突然不見了。我寫這個,因為我相信許多人會想知道自己“無心”的作為其實讓人覺得困擾,不受尊重,反感,甚至俱威脅性。

另外我要提:並不是所有混血兒都是帥哥美女,也並不是所有家庭都幸福美滿。異國夫妻也有溝通不良,家暴,家長沒有家庭觀,單親, 家裡經濟其實很不好…等等。每個人所得到的“地位”,都是你內心投影出來的:權力,不管是崇拜還是默認,都是我們自願給別人的。因為這樣, 更沒有必要憤恨,不平衡。如果希望我們的社會更美好公正,就把所有的孩子都看作是未來成人的苗吧。

生產前與醫生的溝通 – 三點要求增進媽媽寶寶福祉

跟先生慎重討論後決定嘗試第三胎,因為有了前兩胎自然產的經驗,這次對於生產過程已經精簡到只有三點要求,希望醫生可幫忙,也當然希望老公可以幫忙提醒啊!

  1. 不要剪會陰:

會陰是陰道與肛門間的那個空間,產前上一個加拿大助產士的課,她就說,在台灣醫生有些會認為亞洲女性陰道小,生產沒有剪會陰一定會撕裂傷,縫撕裂傷又比縫一個乾淨的傷口麻煩,也或許醫生相信這樣剪生比較快。她說女人身體是設計來生孩子的,大多數女性的陰道在生產過程是有辦法開到可以讓孩子出來的大小。非有必要才會需要人工介入,不然通常是不需要的。

因為這樣,我第一胎產檢有請醫生不要剪,結果到生產那天勒,醫生好像忘記了!一進來就很順其自然的剪了會陰。至今我老公還是感到相當自責,說他看到的時候已經來不及了,非常不爽自己沒有阻止他。還說他看到當下真想揍醫師一拳!當然我生產不希望身邊這麼戲劇化的事情發生,但他有心這麼說也讓我很欣慰。希望他這次可以真的提醒醫生。(不是揍醫生!)

第二胎在卡達生,醫生有聽到我的要求,沒有剪。結果第一胎傷口復原反而比較痛,比較久,我走路比較不舒服。第二胎雖然有自然的撕裂傷,但我當天生完晚上就起來到走廊散步了。雖然我個人的數據只有兩個,但我寧可自然的撕裂傷也不願意一個剪得很“乾淨”癒合更久更不舒服的傷口。

2. 延後剪臍帶的時間:

助產士有說,因為孩子剛出生臍帶還會有一些養分輸入到嬰兒身體,所以等個兩分鐘,都可以讓嬰兒有更多養份。這同時也是有研究證實,降低胎兒貧血,提升體內鐵質的方法。也有台灣的醫生推薦這麼做

這點,我兩胎都沒有做到!真的是醫護人員太順手了,一生出來馬上就剪。虧我第二胎到醫院時還交代先生要提醒產房人員。結果要生的時候他整個就是盤手讓人擺佈。我可憐的女兒又因為媽媽不知道為什麼被卡達醫護人員很“程序上的”被打了點滴,還說不打點滴就不讓我進產房,結果水腫影響出奶,奶到了第四天才下,Q妹整整餓了四天!

3. 不要搓洗寶寶:

我個人的理由主要是剛出生的寶寶有美好的香味,媽媽我聞得相當舒服。Q妹一出生被抓去洗了一個小時才回來,結果回來只剩下肥皂的味道!身上的初生小皮都被搓洗掉了!

後來我看到一個醫生的文章,大致上是說,初生嬰兒最好48小時之後再洗。有幾個原因:

  • 因為初生兒身上還有他在羊水裡長出來的皮,叫做vernix,這個可以形成一個自然屏障,降低感染率。洗掉可惜。vernix也可以自然地幫肌膚保水,不需要用乳液。
  • 嬰兒剛出生被洗會哭,體內壓力素上昇,血糖因此下降,血糖下降的嬰兒會想睡覺,就不會馬上想要吸允(吃奶),體內血糖因此更下降。
  • 嬰兒在母體內享受著約攝氏37C的溫度,一到外面馬上變成乾淨冷氣房的21C,洗澡讓初生兒需要花費更多能量產生熱能維持體溫。
  • 一出生的時間是要跟父母皮膚對皮膚親近的,不是被抓去洗澡。
  • 嬰兒一出生的前半小時或一小時可以趴在皮膚上練習吸允的,通常吸奶能力較好。因為在羊水中胎兒是不斷的吸允羊水,一到空氣中就中斷了這樣的動作。越早讓孩子練習吸允越好。
  • 父母可以參與孩子的第一個澡。根據我在youtube上看到的baby’s first bath影片們,這是很美好的事。

完整的世界衛生組織建議可以在這裡找到(英文)。

另外這是阿諾出生小Q出生的記錄(英文)。