Archive for December, 2011


December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve always talked to my son a lot in both English and Serbian. From day one, talking to my son has been the most natural thing to do. Yes, in the back of my mind there was the thought that being talked to and sung to was good for him in so many ways (intellectually, emotionally, linguistically), but more than anything it was what I felt compelled to do. It was a way for me to express all the feelings bubbling in me, a way to connect to that very little person in my arms, a way to encourage him to “talk” back to me. Then, as he grew, talking to him became also a linguistic tool, and then I read a few articles about the intellectual benefits of talking to your kid. Over time, a new “chip” was somehow built into the back of my head continuously sending the  message Talk. Talk. Talk.

Of course, at times, I love to talk, but I also love silence. Both of my full-time jobs awarded me with generous chunks of silence in my day. I always shaped my life in a way that allowed enough silence. I need silence the way I need air and water. Silence allows me to see, formulate, construct, analyze. I enjoy it the way I enjoy music – each one at a different time.

A few months ago, I somehow reached a point where I started noticing these chunks of time I was spending with Andrei in silence. He plays with something, maybe in the living room while I am in the kitchen, and we are both silent. If he comes to ask a question, I respond. But that’s it. I don’t label objects (That is a potato masher. To je rukavica.), I don’t ask him any questions, I don’t tell him what I am doing and what I am about to do. No, once he is back to his toys, I am back to my silence. Read more…


Sleep, My Baby, Sleep

December 28, 2011 2 comments

So here you go! Someone who has a Ph.D. in Psychology finally said it clearly! “ [L]etting babies get distressed is a practice that can damage children and their relational capacities in many ways for the long term. We know now that leaving babies to cry is a good way to make a less intelligent, less healthy but more anxious, uncooperative and alienated person who can pass the same or worse traits on to the next generation. ” (Dangers of “Crying It Out”, an article written by Darcia Narvaez, an Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Collaborative for Ethical Education at the , and published in Psychology Today on December 11, 2011)

My husband and I heard about the “crying it out” method early on. If our son wasn’t such a bad sleeper, maybe we wouldn’t have heard about it from so many different people, but it was a common method in unsolicited advice we received.

Before Andrei came, I never had any doubts that I wanted to be the kind of mother who would instantly respond to every need of his to the best of my abilities. Yes, I bought a book on attachment parenting, but I never read it. I leafed through it and based on the chapters I skimmed, most of the recommendations simply made sense to me. They seemed instinctual and natural enough, so I decided to go back to reading fiction. To alleviate my anxiety and the feeling that I was not skilled enough to take care of a baby, I also bought (and this time read) a “how-to” type of book for new parents (covering topics such as diapering, bathing, etc.) But then again, I went back to the comfort of reading fiction. Read more…

Why Do I Switch from Serbian to English?

December 26, 2011 1 comment

I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while now. The question pertains to those situations where it feels like there is no reason to switch because I am talking exclusively to my son who understands Serbian as well as he understands English. So why do I switch when my goal is to get as much Serbian into my day with Andrei as I can? To answer this question, maybe I should start with the question, When do I switch?

* When Andrei and I are out and about, and he is on the down slope in the mood department.

* When he misbehaves, and I ask him to stop doing something and suggest he should do something else instead.

* When non-Serbian-speaking people are around, even those that are in no way related to us, just regular people around us.

What is the common thread here? The fact that I seem to need other people (known and unknown) to understand that:

* Here, I am comforting my unhappy son, I am trying to be a decent mother; Read more…

Winter: This New Place I Have Just Discovered

December 23, 2011 2 comments

I have always loved summers, the sea, the warmth. Baking in the sun (I have stopped indulging in this pleasure solely because of the dangers of the UV rays). The hot sand under my feet. The smell of hay during the summers I spent in my aunt’s village house. The warm, endless nights. The scents in the air. Everything about the summer.

The heat rarely bothers me. I even tolerate quite well the obscene humidity of Philadelphia. Because I just love the summer. It’s in my blood.

I was born at the peak of the summer. I got married in Las Vegas – in the desert – in the summer. My son was born in the summer.

I need the summer the way I need air. I couldn’t live without knowing that there always will be another summer.

What about the spring and autumn? I always enjoyed both. But they have always been second best. Simply because nothing in my world compares to the summer. Read more…

Say Please Say Thank you

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

So I somehow stumbled into this article: Do Manners Really Matter? Why I Hate Making My Daughter Say Please and Thank You. It reminded me of my own struggle with Please and Thank You that has started when I first came to the U.S.

Back in Serbia, in Serbian, I tended to use Please very much. When? When I was in the bank. In the store. In the library. In any public place. I always – always – added the kind Molim Vas (Please) to my requests. Please give me … whatever. Please take … whatever. Please make sure … whatever. In those years so many times I myself made a note of how polite I was and how good that Molim-Vas felt in my mouth. I almost felt like my Please-s were building a temporary connection with all those unknown people that the Please-s were directed to, and I enjoyed that connection. Read more…

The End of 2011 – Jambalaya in My Head

December 13, 2011 2 comments

This morning, once again, my son told me, in a very serious voice, that he had a bear sleeping in his bellybutton. A few days ago, he had a bear sleeping in his belly. A week before that he had a fly in his ear. When I asked what the fly was doing in his ear, he just repeated,  A fly in my ear, a fly in my ear, like there was no reason to ask any questions, For God’s sake, woman, can’t you understand, a fly is in my ear, isn’t that enough information? (OK, this was my interpretation of his refusal to offer more information). But when I asked if the fly was maybe dancing in his ear, he said, The fly is dancing, the fly is dancing (he loves to repeat things) and based on his intonation, it sounded like he allowed the possibility of the fly dancing in his ear, although he wasn’t totally convinced the fly was really dancing in his ear. But what he said was enough of an answer to my question. Read more…

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