from a dark place

I am in a dark place.

I finished the book I was reading over the weekend and I have been bitter and sad ever since.

When I got it, I thought it was going to be some sort of mystery/thriller type of book; I just wanted a silly book to read on my journey to /from work.

The story was unimpressive, not particularly well written. In it, the author was trying to bring awareness on the struggles and dangers children and teenagers, from a variety of social backgrounds, face and how society deals with it, by shocking.

Somewhere after 2/3rds of the dull story, something happened and it felt like a blow to the stomach. I meant to just read a chapter before going to bed and ended up going to the living room to finish it. I couldn’t read whole paragraphs, I did not want to read the details of what she was describing. I skimmed through the pages, trying to retain the plot without going into the details; I found myself desperately looking for a glimpse of hope or resolution, a happy ending that never came.

Why did I continue reading? Because I needed her to save those children. I did not want to have that image that shocked me, lingering in my head. I wanted her to make it better.

I know that terrible things happen to children every day, and the thought of it causes a vertigo feeling and this feeling has multiplied since I have a child of my own.

Now,  every child real or invented, in a movie, in a story, in the news feels like my own child. My heart aches, I literally feel a pang of pain, when I hear or read anything that relates to mistreatment or abandonment of a child.

When I was in college I tried to do something about this feeling. I volunteered in a safe house for children, who were victim of mistreatment and/or were waiting for their parents to come out of jail. I was young and didn’t know what to do, all I could do for them was give attention and care.

I am a “hugger”, I have always been, it makes me feel safe and protected, it makes me feel loved. I spent most of my time back then hugging and caring for infants, with a huge knot in my throat. Knowing that I was not doing anything to help, that what i was giving was only temporary, was extremely painful. I spent all of that period submerged in guilt and sadness.

I couldn’t find a way to overcome this and cowardly I stopped going.

The book, stirred all that was buried inside me.  I still don’t know what to do.

I have spent this weekend’s nights crying and the days weepy, how can I explain it? It doesn’t make much sense. But I am hurting.

What can I do? I don’t seem to find an answer.

How can I help? how can i make a difference? I want to but I don’t know how. And the inability to find a way is burning.

I am not hurting for the characters of a book that don’t exist, I am hurting for all those children I can not protect.

Mommy Martydom

I am not going to makea habit of re-bloging but this “Queen of the Couch” post was practically written for me. Mommies, please Read !

Views from the Couch

Some friends and I were chatting and the the above meme card came up, which has been posted around Facebook, and we discovered that we were unanimously annoyed with the implied sentiment. Listen up ladies, this isn’t the 1950’s! Your goal in life no longer has to be landing a husband so you can spend the rest of your life finding shoes to compliment your newest apron or dedicate yourself solely to dispensing little humans out of your vagina like Pez. Supposedly, the sky is the limit–okay, well the glass ceiling is the limit (wink, wink). You can go to college, and not just for your M.R.S. degree. You can have a career. You can have an active social life and go out with friends. The world is your oyster! That is, until you have a child. At that point, you are only supposed to concern yourself with all things…

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Llollo and Daddy’s saturday

I’ll start this post with a disclaimer:  My husband is a wonderful father

My own dad and my father-in-law are old school. They pride themselves of never having to  change a nappy “back in the day”. They were both fantastic fathers, very involved in their children’s lives, just not so involved in the day-to-day during the baby stage.

My husband on the contrary, has been incredible from the start: I remember waking up at the hospital bed and to find my husband  filing our son’s nails. I don’t recall changing any nappies during the first week. He changed his work routine, so he could give him breakfast and drop him at nursery.

He plays rough with Llollo, and Llollo loves it. I brace myself every time I see Llollo mid air when playing with Hubby… But i also see the twinkles in llollo’s eyes when daddy comes back from home every evening. My husband is a great dad.

Now to my post for today.

Saturday, I had to fly to spain early morning and leave my two loves to take care of each other all day. When my husband picked me up saturday night, this is an excerpt of the conversation:

ME: and how was your day with Llollo?

Hubby: It was great. Well, he didn’t have much breakfast, so we started the day early running errands. I thought he would be happy sitting in the front with me, but got bored after a while.

ME: what do you mean by “in the front”?

Hubby; oh, I just brought the baby seat to the front passenger seat to be able to check on him.

ME: right, I don’t think that is legal (OR SAFE … )

Hubby: of course it is, I have seen it tons of times! . Well anyways it was a good thing, cause it was easier to clean up the vomit.

ME: Did he vomit !?

Hubby: yes, there might have been something off with his breakfast or he got dizzy riding in the front. But no worries, I used some paper to clean up the car, and then took him (all covered in vomit) to mothercare. He now owns 2 new t-shirts. (pride grin)

ME: right, did you ran out of baby wipes to clean him? I thought I had a back up pack on the  nappy bag.

Hubby: oh no, I didn’t bring the bag with me. We were not going to spend that much time away. My plan was to be back at home before lunch time, so no need really.

ME: did you give him anything after that (as in WATER ! )

Hubby: Of course I did ! (giving me “the look”) We went to the supermarket and I got him a pack of breadsticks, he had like 20 ! He really likes them.

ME: (… sigh … )

Hubby: but what he really loved was lunch. We had FABADA …

I’ll make a stop here and explain to you, in case you don’t know, what FABADA is. It is a rich spanish bean stew, hot and heavy, made with large white beans, bacon, black pudding and chorizo (thanks wikipedia) .

Hubby; … and he even had chorizo and black pudding !!! ( pride grin again )

ME: but he had vomited not long before that! (and he is a baby! )

Hubby: yeah… but the bread sticks settled his stomach , so he was fine. He loved the fabada!

ME: (…sigh…) how were his naps?

Hubby: non-existent . But at 6 when I took him the his room to change his nappy, he was literally throwing himself into the cot; so i couldn’t bathe him. He is been sleeping since then.

When we got home at midnight, my 16 month old toddler was peacefully asleep in jeans and t-shirt, surely going in his dreams through the best parts of the day… He woke up as usual and had all his porridge and fruit with no problems… when my husband walked into the kitchen, they locked eyes and I could hear his mind screaming “What are we going to do today Daddy?” with a big grin on his beautiful face, just like daddy’s.

Basic manners

I live in central London, and as most of the population here, I take the underground train to work (aka “the tube”). In each carriage there are on average 4-6 priority seat for the elderly, handicapped, pregnant women, etc.

A few days ago, I was reading the “text messages & thank yous” sectionin a newspaper  ( one of my guilty pleasures ) and there was one that made me feel very angry and embarrassed.

It was from a canadian man, who came with his wife to london for the olympics. He thanked all the London women who take the underground for giving up their seat for him and his wife every time they ended up in a crowded carriage; he mentioned how impressed he was by the politeness and empathy of these women.

Thank you sir.

I felt angry because it is the same thought I had during the time I was pregnant and going to work. During this period I had a seat offered to me many, many, many times … but out of those times, only 3 times it was a man giving up his seat.

3 times!

The first one, this amazing man walked half way through the carriage and pulled my arm so I would seat. The second time, it was an old man, who really needed it more than I did. The last one, was a young man, who stood up right when he saw me.

That was it, all the other times were various women and girls who gave up their seat for me. I am sorry it took so long, but here it goes:

Thank you ladies

If you are going to come up with some ridiculous argument on how pregnant women wrongly assume they deserve more attention and consideration just because their condition then please, PLEASE, go ahead now and either click un-follow or hit the back button and read something else, because I DO think that a pregnant woman is definitely MORE tired than you are after the day is over no matter who you are.

It is a matter of respect and consideration. that bum of yours needs to get off a seat, not only the priority seat but ALL seats, for the elderly, pregnant women, handicapped or anybody that seems to need it more that you do!

I know why all those women give up their seats. I know why I give up my seat. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist, and you are a big-class idiot  if you really are happy telling yourself that you are too tired and deserve to be on that seat  reading or playing a video game. Just so you know, most probably you will be there in that same position one day hoping somebody will show you a little kindness. It is  very simple really, you do it, because you expect it. I give up my seat because I know how grateful I would be in the same situation.

Please, if you are going to mention that because you know that most probably your offer is going to be rejected, then you don’t ask … please go ahead and do the Un-follow/back button thing now as well. If you are going to use the “feminist” excuse … then you know what to do. Moron.

You always ask, always. If it gets rejected then happy days! you get to keep your seat.

I am sure there are a many different variables that converge and make this a normal occurrence in our society, but I’ll be damned if I am not going to try and do something about it. I felt embarrassed because It is up to us, moms and dads, to teach our little ones simple things like this. It doesn’t take any effort (it is definitely easier than feed them broccoli ), to teach them how to be considerate and look a little bit further than the tip of their nose.

The message is being sent, because girls are doing it, so what is wrong with the boys? what is it?

I am not implying that my son will be a little cassanova, permanently walking with a carnation, and a cheeky smile. But he will learn to give up his seat, to let people past first when opening a door, to move out of the way in high transited areas …

Being a doormat? No, being a respectful man with manners.

Kids and strangers

I read this post a few weeks ago and it made such an impact on me that I decided to re-blog it. It is written by Sarah Levy from her blog Checklistmommy, and it is about what to consider when talking to children about strangers.

“Right after Diddy was born, I was in the car listening to NPR and I heard a child safety educator say, “Stop telling your kids not to talk to strangers. They might need to talk to a stranger one day. Instead, teach them which sorts of strangers are safe. You know who’s safe? A mom with kids. Period. Your kid gets separated from you at the mall? Tell her to flag down the first mom with kids she sees.”

This was fantastic advice. I have shared it with everyone who will listen, ever since.

Last month, I finally got to meet the woman who’d said this brilliant thing, when I had the enormous good fortune of attending a kid’s safety seminar led by Pattie Fitzgerald of Safely Ever After. Safely Ever After offers seminars to adults and children on the subject of “keeping kids safe from child molesters and abuse.”

I didn’t seek Pattie out. I don’t spend every moment of the day worrying that my kids are going to end up in white slavery. But Diddy and Gaga’s preschool offers the material to parents of pre-K students as a preamble to teaching it to the pre-K kids, and Diddy’s a pre-K kid, so I went to hear what Pattie had to say. (And in light of all the Miramonte Elementary madness, I am thrilled I did.)

If it makes you uncomfortable to think about offering this sort of material to a 5 year-old, let me reassure you by saying our school offers an opt-out. But after spending a morning listening to Pattie’s presentation, I can honestly say I would have let her go teach my 3 year-old about “tricky people.” If the boys could understand it, I’d have her come over and talk to them, too.

And they’d like it. Really. I did.  Sitting around listening to all the horrible things that could happen to your kids might not sound like a good time — but oddly enough, with Pattie Fitzgerald, it is.

For one thing, Pattie knows her stuff, and I felt confident that her information was accurate and her advice studied and strong. For another, she’s pretty funny — so the material she presented never felt horribly gloom-and-doomy so much as matter-of-fact and manageable.

FOR INSTANCE:

  • It is unlikely your kid is going to be abused by a weirdo at the park (huge sigh of relief).
  • That said, if there is a weirdo at the park, he’s not going to fit the “stranger” model — so stop teaching your kid about strangers! He’s going to come up to your kid and introduce himself. Voila! He ain’t a stranger anymore.
  • Teach your kids about TRICKY PEOPLE, instead. TRICKY PEOPLE are grown-ups who ASK KIDS FOR HELP (no adult needs to ask a kid for help) or TELLS KIDS TO KEEP A SECRET FROM THEIR PARENTS (including, IT’S OKAY TO COME OVER HERE BEHIND THIS TREE WITHOUT ASKING MOM FIRST. Not asking Mom is tantamount to KEEPING A SECRET.)
  • Teach your kids not to DO ANYTHING, or GO ANYWHERE, with ANY ADULTS AT ALL, unless they can ask for your permission first.

See how I said ANY ADULTS AT ALL? That’s because:

  • It’s far more likely your kid is going to be abused by someone they have a relationship with, because most cases of abuse follow long periods of grooming — both of the kid and his or her family.
  • Bad guys groom you and your kids to gauge whether or not you’re paying attention to what they’re doing, and/or to lure you into dropping your guard. Don’t. Kids who bad guys think are flying under their parents’ radars, or kids who seem a little insecure or disconnected from their parents, are the kids who are most at risk.

SO:

  • Be suspicious of gifts that adults in positions of authority give your kids. There’s no reason your son should be coming back from Bar Mitzvah study with a cool new keychain or baseball hat.
  • Be suspicious of teachers who tell you your kid is so special they want to offer him more one-on-one time, or special outings. That teacher who says your kid is into Monet, he wants to take him to a museum next weekend? Say thanks, and take your kid to go see the exhibit yourself.
  • You know that weird adult cousin of yours who’s always out in the yard with the kids, never in the kitchen drinking with the grown-ups? Keep an eye on your kids when he’s around.
  • Oh, and that soccer coach who keeps offering to babysit for free, so you can get some time to yourself? NO ONE WANTS TO BABYSIT YOUR KIDS JUST TO BE NICE.

And, here’s another good reason to add to the PANTHEON of reasons to teach your children the anatomically correct names for their genitalia:

  • There isn’t a child molester on earth who’s going to talk to your daughter about her vagina. Really. But if she suddenly starts calling it a cupcake, you can ask her who taught her that.

*

Ultimately, after spending an hour with Pattie, I felt LESS worried, not more. That, to me, is the number one sign of a good book or seminar about parenting — it doesn’t stress you out.

And you know why Pattie Fitzgerald and  Safely Ever After won’t stress you out?

BECAUSE SHE’S CHOCKFUL OF CHECKLISTS!

She’s got a PREVENTION TIPS list, a RED FLAGS & WARNINGS list, and my personal favorite, a THE SUPER-10, PLAY IT SAFE FOR KIDS AND GROWN-UPS! list.

Check out Pattie’s site. Read her material, buy her kids book, organize a bunch of like-minded parents to take her seminars. I promise you’ll feel better after — and way safer — when you do. ”

 

 

Toddlers and meals

As any mum of a toddler, I am sure, I am worried sick about his eating … or more precisely about him NOT eating.

I spend many hours a week on the internet checking on recipes and meal ideas for Llollo. When he was a baby, introducing new flavors to him was relatively easy, I followed gina ford’s introduction to solids and he pretty much gave it a go on most dishes. But somewhere between then a now it all changed.

He doesn’t eat pasta, all kids love pasta! doesn’t he know? ; he won’t try chicken, fish or meat. I gave up trying to mix mashed potatoes with other stuff when I realized he didn’t actually eat mashed potatoes at all. Cubes of vegetables? no, fruit? no!

The weekends are “challenge time”; I wake up saturday mornings with new recipes to try on his meals… and so far success has been scarce.

It is not that he starves himself. We know that he will always eat: bread sticks, rice crackers, baked beans, mozarella cheese, cheerios (damn you cheerios!), heinz pasta hoops and bananas. But those were the items for our “emergency meals”, not to be served on a regular basis.

To bring things back on track I made a meal planner for his dinners during the week and all his meals during weekends, since he has lunch and tea at nurser. I included 1 veg and 1 fruit with all meals, I designates days for eggs, pasta and rice. My toddler is brilliant, he sits in that high chair and plays and smiles until I accept he just won’t eat it.

There is no forcing, no threatening, no crying. We both smile at each other, me knowing that he is hungry and he knowing … I don’t know what he knows, but he just won’t eat.

I am a working mother, yes. But I am not a clueless mum, I KNOW what is going on.

It is me who, every time picks him up at nursery, has to hear all about how he LOOOOOVES fishcakes with white sauce, pasta and veg and lamb and coucous…

Lamb and coucous!

Seriously, last time I had to endure this: “Oh, Llollo asked for second servings of tofu and veg, cheeky boy”

TO

FU

?!

Of course I thought that maybe those nursery portions were tiny or not really “lamb and couscous”, but after a few “surprise” visits at meal time I am convinced that they serve what they say they do.

To top it up, every time I take Llollo to the health visitor for a weight check I am told : “Well done mum! your toddler has been bang on the 75% percentile , keep feeding him as you do” … no help there then.

Well done nursery.

One weekend, Hubby was trying to feed him while I was doing other stuff in the kitchen; since llollo was not eating, he came to the kitchen to make himself a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel. He took the sandwich back to the table and … do you know what happened? …

Llollo ate half the bagel and all the salmon.

My toddler eats smoked salmon and tofu, but won’t eat pasta or mashed potatoes.

So I can’t really complain that I have a fussy eater, he just won’t eat MUM’s food … AAAARGH!!!!!