Paths

Stick man choosing a new path

(Ryotiras)
There will always be the moment when we have to decide which is the better way to go

During a research, I found the comic strip above. Beside the metaphor of creating our own alternative paths, I asked myself: when was the last time I walked on the grass?

Doing it with shoes doesn’t count. On high heels, not at all, because they insist on burying themselves, a complete mess. I’m talking about walking barefooted (and not worrying about the mess). I, who used to play marbles, go down ravines on cardboard boxes, climb trees, guide the bike on purpose to mud puddles, became “Miss Choosy”. This, in itself, would be an individual loss; the matter is extending the choosiness to my kids. I’ve already allowed them to walk barefooted, but with the wet wipes in the bag to clean them later…

It may be the reason why I love beaches, the only places in the universe where I sit down and lie on the sand, and touch mud. Maybe because, when dry, the sand falls off easily.

One day, I saw a saw a video about Aelita Andre, a 5-year-old girl, a precocious talent, considered a phenomenon by the art galleries. Her father set up an atelier, in order to give her creational liberty. Well, I live in an apartment, but, even if I had a garage, I would think twice before allowing such a big mess. Add my drama with wasting (see how she spills the paint from the cans!) and, if I were her mother, perhaps I have never revealed this little genius to the world… o_O

excuse the mess

I also saw a “welcome sign” with this disclaimer: “Excuse the mess… the children are making memories”. So, I haven’t been preventing my children from making tents with sheets, filling the whole window glass with stickers, extending the territories of the toys to the entire apartment. Then, when they want to work with gouache, why do I make a point of covering the floor with newspapers? I allow them to do it, but why am I uneasy when they don’t clean the brush before submerging it in another paint pot? Why am I afraid they get their clothes dirty?

Last week, during swimming class (yes, the 4 of us do classes at the same time, to optimize the day), suddenly the big sun gave place to a big rain. If it is raining with no lightning bolts, the teachers don’t interrupt the class. I think it was the first time, in decades, that I caught rain. I had forgotten how good it is… The curious thing is: this time might be the first also for my youngest kid (5).Maybe for the other two: the experience of staying in the rain for so much time (and not running from it).

There are 6 days ahead, but one of my New Year resolutions will be: taking the grass path. Preferentially, with rain.

I cried rains over this ad:

____________________

You can also see:

Only mothers are happy – Marusia speaks

Letter to my children

The World’s best play

This post in Portuguese: Caminhos

The World’s most interesting course

From 2003, I’ve been taking a long duration course, which I’ve wanted to do since I was a child. Childhood dream. Everybody says it is the best, and there is nothing similar. International scope.

people studying

Initially, I tried to apply in 2002, but unfortunately I wasn’t successful. I was so obstinate that in 2003 I finally got it. The system is really different. Frequently, everything I had learnt falls through during the classes.

The teachers don’t inform when the exams will occur. Sometimes, I still hadn’t comprehended a subject, and it was on a surprise-test. In order to be more exact, so far I haven’t seen one day without an exam.

woman reading with the hands on the head

The contents are hard. I have to conciliate it with my job, renounce a lot of things, spend nights and nights studying or undertaking a project. Even though, all of these are not a guarantee for passing. Often, I must do, redo and redo. Most of the times, I apply to the group work. It flows better.

There is bullying too. Some people say I’m doing it wrong, and I should do it in another way. However, the teachers, subjects, schedules and classrooms are different from the others; how can they want to compare anything? There’s no parameter.

The classes are everyday, including weekends and holidays. Some people prefer the distance learning module, but I think that it isn’t the same of the face-to-face course, far from it. This is unbeatable.

That’s the most transforming experience ever. The more you dedicate to it, the more it is richer and deeper. I bet: every second of it is worth it.

The world’s crazy and awesome course calls “Parenting”. I have the privilege of having three exigent and wonderful teachers.

It’s been two years since I began publishing my class notes on the internet. Second year “Mãe Perfeita” Blog anniversary.

My best wishes to all my schoolmates!

boy weating a teacher hat

________________________

You can also see:

The World’s best play

The little strategist

School lunch

The origami angel

This post in Portuguese:  O curso mais interessante do mundo

If men breastfed

Visited site:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_lactation

___________________________

My 3-year-old son asked me:

“Why can’t men breastfeed?”

“Well, because only women have breasts.”

“No. (Showing me his nipple): I have a breast, too.”

Of course, explaining to a little child about mammary glands and more was too much. I laughed but asked myself: why does the male human have nipples, after all?

For my surprise, it wasn’t just a “child’s doubt”. There are people doing serious researches and also publishing books about the theme. I found out, too, that it is actually more a matter of hormones than of mammary structures (fact: due to the maternal hormones during the gestation, boys can be born with milk inside their little breasts, and newborn girls can have a “pseudo-menstruation”).

I even found out cases of men who breastfed their kids. Have you ever thought about what could happen if it becomes commonplace?

Man breastfeeding his baby

If men breastfed…

… the care for the newborns could be shared. Father and mother would take turns nursing. With bigger intervals, the nipple fissures would have more time to recover.

… while one nurses, the other could take care of the oldest kids, attenuating the jealousy among brothers.

… the maternity leave would be for the couple. So, there would be no more discrimination on the labor market, since the conditions would be the same for men and women.

… the exclusive breastfeeding for twins and triplets (so common nowadays) would be easier.

… in case of impediments for the mother, this time would be calmer.

… the milk banks would have more donors.

… breastfeeding in public would be seen as natural, and not as “indecent exposure”. By the way, men usually take their shirts off.

… men would be able to feel more intimately the physical link with their children.

… children could indistinctly call “mom” and “dad”.

That last topic deserves reflection. We women always complain about the overweight and incomprehension from men. Would we mothers, however, be inclined to share that power? the power of being exclusive in the children’s preference?

More: would women approve a legion of such “maternal” men? A quick look at the photos with men breastfeeding automatically causes some discomfort.

Man breastfeeding his son

Since men don’t breastfeed…

… they literally don’t feel what it is and, because of that, in order to comprehend the dimension of the task, they need to be INCLUDED in the process.

Let’s remember that breastfeeding is a very recent thing in our postwar society. Men just don’t understand the importance of raising this flag. Before the immense disrespect to women, an angry reaction can be natural and the most probable. Although, as my mother says, “don’t worry about the chaos; put in it the missing element.”

Diminishing men, judging them as “Homers Simpsons”, selfish, weak before pain, rowdy, inept, rude or violent people DOES NOT HELP. At least, we stay at a nil-nil draw.

Only observing the current place of men and trying to equal them with truculence and meanness are not the best way for women to find their place. I have two boys and definitely it’s not the legacy I hope to give to this generation. If I keep attached to this imagery and harp on about the same distorted values of a sickly society, what can I expect from my kids? that they become “Homers Simpsons”?

That’s the reason why I believe in a mutual respect posture.

I end this post with the phrase I said to my 3 year-old son:

“You won’t be able to breastfeed, but you will be able to hug your little kid very tight, in order for him to hear your heart. In the same way your Daddy does with you.”

Baby sleeping on his father's chest

Nivea Baby ad: heart with heart

____________________

You can also see:

A short and bald guy

Love is…

Because we are mammals

This post in Portuguese: Se os homens amamentassem

On Ballet and bullying

black swan ballerina

Some years ago, my sister-in-law, a great ballerina, asked me if I intended to enroll my daughter in ballet classes. I answered I only would do it if it was the meaning of her life, if it was something that she wanted more than everything on the Earth, because my experience wasn’t good. I said that, differently from of my sister-in-law, I didn’t have talent, and faced very humiliating situations.

I started Ballet classes when I was 8. The first teacher was sweet. For the next four years, however, I got a new teacher, more rigid, who was obsessed with forming a corps de ballet.

I never had the pretension of being a soloist dancer. As I said, I was never a skilled ballerina. I was diligent, obedient and timid. And was excited with the end-of-year festivals.

Once, we performed “Sleeping Beauty”. My class was the “peasants”. It was when I began to feel the pressure. I rehearsed from Sunday to Sunday, but it wasn’t enough. A few days before the spectacle, the teacher took me off of two choreographs. During them, I would sit still in the back of the stage. In the only choreograph which I took part, I, who had more than 5 degrees of myopia, was forced to dance without my glasses, because “peasants didn’t wear glasses”.

In the next year, I was cut off from another choreograph. The allegation was I was very short. A colleague, who was less tall than me (but danced brilliantly), stood up and said: “If it were true, I wouldn’t be in the choreograph.” The teacher only flushed and didn’t say anything. But I understood everything.

In the last of the four years, my class finally was promoted to “corps de ballet”. Except me, who had to go back to the former degree.

In spite of being thin like a stick, I’ve always had a large torso, as well as a little “belly”. So, I always heard: “Contract your belly! Ballerinas do not have bellies! A dry sausage like you must not have a belly!”

I was 13. I wrote a letter to the teacher and left Ballet classes. Nowadays, that kind of approach would be considered as bullying. Curiously, the rivalry didn’t exist among the colleagues (as shown above, with my sweet defender). The bullying I suffered came from an adult, a teacher, an authority.

Frequently, my brothers and sisters and I meet and remember those situations laughing a lot. My mom gets crazy with those stories. “Why didn’t you tell me?” The answer is unanimous: “We didn’t want to bore you with those child’s things”.

We are used to saying that these reunions are a kind of collective catharsis, and we laugh (and cry) because, after all, these situations weren’t individual privileges for none of us: all of us dealt with them. Yet, my husband is not the least patient with what he considers “autocommiseration”. He does not agree with us and says that, since he was a boy, he has always tried to find the fields he was skilled in, and not the opposite.

It happened to my oldest son. He LOVES soccer. He decided to enter a soccer school. I thought it could be a way for him to improve. The teacher was respectful, but in the third championship my son said to me: “I want to leave. I spent most of the time sitting on the bench. I don’t think it is wrong, because I don’t want to trouble the team. So, I will find something that I am good at.” Eight years old.

Now, he does Karate. We did a rigorous investigation to find the adequate karate school, because we were afraid of my son entered the “Cobra Kai DoJo” (Karate Kid, do you remember?). You cannot be careful enough. We could find whom I consider as the “Brazilian Miyagi”. And I let myself be the owl of the owls: less than 1 year passed, he had been approved in four belt exams (white, blue, yellow and red). He is an orange belt. It seems he was born to do it. I get fluffy out of pride.

Jonh Kreese, Miyagi and Daniel

Karate Kid

Back to Ballet. Behold my daughter entered Ballet classes. It was part of recreation; in fact it was not a Ballet Academy. I thought that, like that, the atmosphere would be lighter. I didn’t want to contaminate the situation with my prejudices. I bought the uniform and the ballet shoes happily. A few months later, she asked me to leave: “It’s boring.”

ballet class

Her teacher told me that she “didn’t have the discipline required to do Ballet.” That, during the class, there was a kind of “tour” with foam objects to mark the stations, and she had just turned away, my daughter misplaced all of them. Secretly. With the most angelical face of all.

I thought:

People!!! My daughter is not like me AT ALL!

HOW WONDERFUL!!!

Four years old.

Moral lesson #1:

There are academies and academies. As parents, we must be aware. Children don’t always say us what happens during the classes.

Moral lesson #2: In one of our family “autocommiseration sessions”, my sister-in-law felt comfortable to tell us the nonsensical things she heard from her Ballet teacher. Notice: she was a soloist. Nowadays, she is in the adult classes and lives, for the first time, “Ballet with love” (when she was a child, she lived “Ballet with pain”.

Moral lesson #3: Let’s avoid to project, in our kids, our frustration. Or our dreams.

Moral lesson #4: We must keep in mind they are only children. Now, my daughter does karate too. And is having a lot of fun with the Brazilian Miyagi.

little girl practicing karate

Who had said that she didn’t have discipline, again?

children practicing karate

__________________

You can also see:

My son needs glasses

Letter to my children

Where’s the big belly? It’s disappeared

Where’s the big belly? Marusia speaks

This post in Portuguese: Sobre ballet e bullying

The little strategist

“Parents trying to elicit good behavior from children must become amateur strategists (the children are the pros).”

(DIXIT, Avinash K. & NALEBUFF, Barry J. “Thinking strategically”.)

The phrase above is in the preface of a technical book about Game Theory, which intends to teach the principles of strategy reasoning. The authors are wise when they are able to find, in children, the reasoning that we end losing and having to re-learn after being adults. Mainly when we become parents.

One day I went back home and received from my husband a so-so “good evening”. I soon asked what was going on, and he said to me, annoyed:

“I bought a new videogame. I spent a lot of time choosing. I was sure it would be a complete success among the kids, until I inserted the disc inside the device. Only 15 minutes past, and they were already screaming and fighting in the room. I didn’t preach, I didn’t do anything: I just turned off the device and prohibited them from playing for one week.”

In the blink of an eye, I mapped the “atmosphere” which had been installed. The sadness of a father who brings a present hoping for union and seeing the opposite. Adding to my delusion of… Gee, why can’t they play nice? In the room, the little three all blue. The oldest one, writing in a notebook, a kind of diary, feeling so wronged. The fight had begun because he was – under the pretext of teaching the youngest brother how to play – taking off the controller from his hand all the time; the youngest didn’t want to accept “interferences” and then TOOF!! beat the controller on his brother’s head. My daughter was even more frustrated, because she hadn’t taken part in the confusion and was being like so. And the youngest was letting the tears drop with no sound.

My husband said again:

“I didn’t do anything. I just turned off the game.”

This kind of silent action from the parents weighs more than a scolding, you know? It’s when the children realize that they provoked something more serious. I tried to pacify and also give to Caesar what was Caesar’s. With the father’s “OK”, I released the girl from the prohibition for one week. I praised the oldest boy because he just wanted to help, but also asked for patience. To the youngest son, I said that nothing could justify hurting anybody, much less if the person was his brother, even worse because he was trying to teach him. I saw he regretted it, but I couldn’t leave it be, even for the sake of justice.

Later, I saw that he was still shedding tears and, that time, he was dedicating himself to make a drawing (since he didn’t know how to write).

See the drawing:

crying stick figure

When I saw it, I couldn’t resist; I squeezed him in my arms and covered him with kisses. I covered all three with kisses. I asked the little boy to apologize to both his brother and sister, and his father too, what he did with a wet face, and also promised that it wouldn’t happen again (uh-huh).

Then, he brought me another drawing:

smiling stick figure

Comparing the two drawings, it’s possible to notice the spirit of each one; the first of them made in brown crayon, sad, and the second in orange, happy.

Some days later, the girl was playing in the computer, and the little boy began to annoy her, wanting to play too.

Aaaaaaah, the usual confusion…

“Spending my beauty” and all of the daily artifices, typical of a career in Law, to be a judge, a juror, a lawyer and a conciliator, I said to him he wasn’t right and must wait until she left.

It didn’t take 15 seconds, and the boy came to me with one more drawing of a crying-stick-figure. But, that time, it didn’t correspond to the funny and smart smile of who had drawn…

Three years old. Professional strategist.

_______________

You can also see:

The tooth fairy

School lunch

Are your kids as mine?

This post in Portuguese: O pequeno estrategista

Where’s my baby?

Visited site:

Before they grow up – Affonso Romano de Sant’Anna

________________

baby girl little shoes

Photo: Jynmeyer / stock xchng

The Affonso chronicle reached deep in my heart. Many truths, in such a short space of lines! Texts like that originate antagonistic feelings. At the beginning, something like: “I should enjoy the present moment, because everything goes away very fast.” Then, a look at my parents and grandparents, searching for the connection between who we were when children and our kids.

In other moments, it also brings anger. Remembering the past is done with rose-tinted glasses. Affonso didn’t say that we should face more fits, clean more vomit, spend more sleepless nights, lose our patience more times. It brings guilt, too: those lenses, coming from a voice filled with experience, ask us to forgive those boring facts in order to dedicate ourselves to nice facts. Off the record, day after day, sometimes it requires the posture of a Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Let me tell a story. When my daughter concluded kindergarten, the school organized a “PJ party”, i.e., she and the other children of her class would do dozens of activities and sleep at the school. On the next day, they would wake up and find messages from their families under their pillows.

(To the insecure moms, I say that two of my kids had PJ parties at school. Up until now, those nights still are, for them, one of the most fantastic things they’ve experienced.)

My family is immense, so I decided to compose the leaves, with all their messages, as a spiral bound notebook. I printed Hello Kitties, angels, fairies, flowers, ballerinas to decorate it. For my message, I wanted to do a retrospective since she was a baby, year by year. Looking at photography albums is frequent here at home, but that time it was different. It was an unequivocal proof that time had passed.

I looked at those photos and thought to myself: where’s this baby? And looked at my daughter trying to find some of her traces. But she had become a little lady, a smart, charming, independent and elegant girl.

It’s not necessary to say that a confused feeling appeared: joy because she became who she is, but also nostalgia, a lot of nostalgia, and perplexity. I had heard many mothers telling that the babies consume such an intense dedication, filling the whole day in each and every second, so the fatigue doesn’t allow them to “enjoy” the children. Thus, when they got aware, the kids had already grown up, and they just hadn’t notice.

Keeping it in mind, I did everything to focus on the present and enjoy each moment. My babies were “enjoyed” a lot. However, it didn’t prevent me from seeing the little clothes and shoes getting smaller and smaller, the diapers and bottles being abandoned, and to try, as in the movie “Mamma Mia”, holding their childhoods like sand slipping through my fingers.

And I wrote in tears my message for her.

At night, I had a dream that my daughter was a baby again. It seemed my guardian angel was giving me another opportunity just for old time’s sake. It was wonderful. Yet I woke up with the angel’s voice: “All right. Now, don’t wait for another six years to ask again: where is my little six year old girl?”

girl shoes

Photo: 38 parrots / stock xchng

__________________

You can also see:

The origami angel

From daughter to mother

This post in Portuguese: Onde está meu bebê?

Breastfeeding social campaigns: a serious and honest analysis

World Breastfeeding Week

Year – Brazilian godmother of the campaign Slogan
1999 – Luiza Brunet (top model)amamentação Luiza Brunet cartaz1999 Breastfeeding is educating for life. Let’s re-learn!
2000 – Glória Pires (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding. Good for the mother. Better for the baby.
2001 – Isabel Fillardis (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding. A very special way of communication.
2002 – Claudia Rodrigues (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding is giving your baby health in the form of love.
2003 – Luiza Thomé (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding. Health and peace for a better world.
2004 – Maria Paula (actress and writer)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Until your baby is six months old, the shift from the right breast to the left one must be the only change in his/her feeding.
2005 – Vera Viel e Maria Paula (actresses)Brazilian actresses breastfeeding Until your baby is six months old, he/she only needs breast milk. After this, offer other foods and keep breastfeeding.
2006 – Cássia Kiss (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding. Assuring this right is everybody’s responsibility.
2007 – Vanessa Lóes (with Thiago Lacerda) (actress and actor)Brazilian actress breastfeeding with her husband Breasfeeding in the first hour, protection without delay.
2008 – Dira Paes (and mother) – actressBrazilian actress breastfeeding Nothing is more natural than breastfeeding. Nothing is more important than supporting.
2009 – Claudia Leitte (singer)Brazilian singer breastfeeding Breastfeeding at all moments. More health, love and protection.
2010 – Wanessa Cristina and other mothersThree woman; two pregnant woman with another one breastfeeding Breastfeed. Give your child the best.

Social campaigns for donation of expressed breast milk – Ministry of Health Services – Brazilian Government

2008 – Camila Pitanga (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding and donating expressed milk Donate expressed milk, life thanks you.
2009 – Samara Fillipo (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Donate expressed breast milk, life thanks you.

Analysis

The posters aim:

  • Valuing (and even glamourizing) breastfeeding;
  • Enlightening the benefits for both mother and child;
  • Emphasizing the advantages of breast milk;
  • Expressly recommending exclusive breastfeeding until the baby is six months old;
  • Calling for the responsibility of all of the people involved: father, other relatives, employer.

Important, worthy, opportune, necessary, amazing, inspiring: all of those things were more than revered in those campaigns. However, there are other aspects beyond the UNQUESTIONABLE example of beautiful social marketing campaign, which deserve an analysis.

The poster in 2010 calls for attention because it is the first in a series, for 12 years, that shows mothers who are not celebrities. Also, there is a black person as the central figure. Images of breastfeeding are essentially “white”; the exception is Isabel Fillardis, in 2001.

Another new thing in 2010 is the presence of pregnant women, i.e., breastfeeding is an attitude to be embraced early in gestation.

The third different feature is the breastfeeding mother looking at the baby (even if in the smaller picture). Mostly, mothers are not looking at the babies, but at the spectator, reinforcing the appeal, when they act as spokespeople of the campaign (the exception is the poster with Vanessa Lóes and the ones for milk donation). This behavior also denotes an incisive pose for the photo, an artificial moment as well as the mother’s highlight, the hero who deserves be applauded and followed. Colors, environment, smiles, everything contributes to the atmosphere of serenity and delight, and leads to the understanding that breastfeeding is a natural fact/act since the beginning/always and has no difficulties – even when there are twins (Luiza Tomé) or big children (Maria Paula).

The mother who doesn’t see that atmosphere when she tries to breastfeed (she feels pain, sore nipples, breast engorgement, fissures, fatigue, lack of support, instead) thinks that something is wrong – with her.

Positive changes are a good beginning in the campaigns. Yet what really is absent in all posters is something beyond the phrase “for further information, please call…” with telephone numbers or websites. A crucial recommendation is not explicit on those posters: “In case of difficulties, please call…”

As in all good ads, nobody wants to talk about problems. This analysis intends to focus on the help, the support. The mothers may check the credibility of the campaign, when they cannot reproduce the perfect spirit in the pictures, and even give up, thinking that breastfeeding is only for celebrities (who enjoy a whole universe, which is not accessible for “mortal” women).

(Actually, that information is available, in the material for health professionals. It was not created for the public at large. Ministry of Health Services – Brazilian Government issued a great, honest and plural primer, with “people like us”; so different from the posters! It’s worth visiting it:   Cartilha de Amamentação –   in Portuguese.)

_________________

You can also see:

Because we are mammals – analysis

Because we are mammals – Marusia speaks

This post in Portuguese: Campanhas de amamentação – uma análise séria e franca