Recently Lavin and I went on a short trip to North Carolina. While there we settled in for an impromptu picnic at a brewery. As we sat down I laid out a blanket so Lavin didn’t get dirty, then carefully set him in the middle of the blanket. I placed a teether toy in front of him, kicked off my shoes and sipped a cider. Lavin started pulling at the blanket under him so I carefully placed it back, a perfect rectangle patch on a fresh spring green. Read more
“Bonjour, Bébé!” A stranger was reaching out stroking Lavin’s arm. She looked at us and started saying something else in French. We were shopping and Lavin was attached to me, facing out, in a baby carrier.
“Bonjour! English?,” we said wishing we’d brushed up on our French. We were on vacation, the island was a Dutch and French territory so we expected a language barrier. The woman quickly turned to find her friend, then motioned for us to wait there.
The two women come back chattering excitedly. The woman told a story to her friend, who said, “She see you on beach… were you at beach? Umm, Happy Bay?”
I said, “Oui, yes, we were there!”
The woman exclaimed again to her friend, who translated, “She saw baby there, she thinks he is sweet! Fun to see a baby.”
Then the woman bent over, took Lavin’s little face in her hands, and lovingly spoke to him in French. This went on for a few minutes. We only understood a few words, mostly “oui” and “bébé.” She smiled and said something to us in French before happily walking away.
At first the stranger’s touching our baby made me uncomfortable but the more I thought about it the more I appreciated it. More strangers touched our baby that week than they had his whole life. On this trip here was a sense of love and care for our baby, an admiration from complete strangers. They weren’t worrying about germs, the exact words to say or if we were anxious about other people getting too close. They were simply excited to see a fresh-faced baby, grateful to interact with him with a genuine interest in seeing his face light up with a smile. This experience, and so many others, is why I want to keep traveling with Lavin.
In America, there are so many hidden rules behind babies. We worry about germs, how close people are to us, and stranger danger. There is an underlying sense of fear around outsiders taking an interest in our children. In St. Maarten it was different. People noticed our baby and weren’t nervous to approach us. They wanted to talk with him and see his smile. They wanted us to know it was exciting for them to see a baby on the beach, in the shop and at the market. They weren’t worried about the last time they washed their hands or even that we didn’t understand their language. They only wanted to share their love and interest.
I want our baby to experience more of this kind of world. The world where people notice and say hello. This is why travel is so dear to me and why we make a huge effort to get out of our comfort zone. Immersing in other cultures and having Lavin experience the languages of the world is important to me. Our interaction with the woman at the store confirmed for me that the language we can all understand is love. I have taken her lead and am overcoming my self absorption to go out of my way to say hi and smile at those around me. Whether it’s smiling and saying, “you’re a good mom” when I saw a mom stand firm with a crying toddler, I made eye contact with the barista and said hello before rattling off my order, and I was the last to stop waving at the 3-year-old neighbor. I have surprised myself with the joy these little connections can bring.
Building a library in your home is important for your child’s literacy development. The research in literacy development indicates that the number books in a household directly impacts a child’s vocabulary development and even greatly impacts a child’s success in school in the later years. Early and frequent reading is an important part of childhood. So, what does it mean to have a “library” in your home? Fortunately, this does not mean shelves and shelves of books lining every wall. When I write about a child’s library I am talking about a curated set of many books that are high quality, interesting to your child, and accessible to your child. Read more
This week was bursting at the seams with activities and late night events. On Monday, I had a haircut until 7:30pm, Tuesday was a school carnival that ended my work day at 10:45pm, conferences late on Thursday and Friday. Every day of the week continued with long stretches of work and my husband was headed out of town for an annual fishing trip that weekend. It was only Wednesday and I was already exhausted. Read more
“This is the wheel. It spins the clay so mommy can pull the clay up to make a mug,” Lavin looks up at me from a blanket on the floor, my hands are caked in mud as I pull up the clay. Earlier he was strapped to me in a baby carrier as I chattered, “I cut the clay and make even squares. I weigh them to check if they are equal.” He is laughing and reaching out, thrilled to be a part of the action. “Now we are wedging the clay, this gets it ready to throw on the wheel.” Lavin squeals in delight. I form a ball as he grabs at it, delighted to be a part of my hobby. He squishes his tiny fingerprints into the fresh clay.
When my son was one month old I realized I had not introduced him to any toys. We had spent the first few weeks of his life with simple skin to skin, talking to him and with lots of snuggling. It wasn’t until another mom mentioned how much her child enjoyed their activity center that I felt my first pang of mother wrong doing. I had only placed our baby on a blanket and talked to him with his stuffed lion, that is the only toy I can recall playing with during the first month. When I was home that evening I introduced him to his activity center. His activity center was a bright blanket with arches around it and a shining star in the middle that flashed to the tune of the music it played. Read more