Tag Archive | Parenting

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

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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

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.)

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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

Letter to my children

Dear Kids:

If, in the next year…

… we have to spend a sleepless night, may we enjoy the rare opportunity to watch the sun rising.

…we have to deal with a health problem, may we learn to understand our body signs.

…we cry, may the tears come like the rain that fertilizes dreams.

… we get angry, may we comprehend the immense creative power of that energy, when channeled.

… we are forced to stop, may we know how to wait, like the seed that is never late and is never early to germinate.

… we find obstacles, may we take pride in feeling like students doing a test for an advanced level.

… we have a loss, may we discover strength in faith.

… we face unmannered people, may we remember Francis of Assisi and be instruments of Peace.

… we are instruments of Peace, may dreams, health, happiness, friendship, creativity, patience, victory, earnings and harmony come in addition.

… and may the year be good.

hand with an hourglass

Image: Desktop Nexus

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You can also see:

The origami angel

This post in Portuguese: Carta a meus filhos

Things that only those who have three (or more) kids know

Only those who have three (or more) kids…

… brush, at least, 32 (yours) + 20 + 20 + 20 (92!) teeth, three times a day;

… cut 80 nails every week;

… hold the hands of two kids to cross the street and ask one of them to hold the hand of the third kid – something that they never accept;

… have to take two taxicabs to carry the whole family;

… buy weekly, at the supermarket, what the others buy monthly;

… realize, as unviable, any carpooling – unless both you and your neighbor have a minibus;

… need two sofas for watching TV;

… in travels, must book two rooms at the hotel, after the youngest kid is 3. And thank God when the hotel has combined rooms;

… have to plan a big logistic operation when traveling with them. And, if it is a trip only for mom and dad, have to leave a big logistic operation for the heroes who will stay with the kids;

… ought to manage three homeworks, three schedules, three exams each bimester, three school supplies, three report cards. And still have to attend three parent teacher meetings at the school. However, also deserve a little discount on the school payments of the youngest kid;

… realize that they are the masters of confusion, in endless combinations: the oldest one x the youngest ones; the youngest one x the oldest ones; the oldest one + the youngest one x the middle one; boys x girls; all x all…

…earn three cute gifts, made by them, and watch three shows for Mother’s Day every year (and cry in all of them);

… find out that 3 is the minimum ideal number for any play: hide-and-seek, tag, games, etc!

… find out that, now, they are the majority at home…

… hear: “Are you a mother of three? You are…” (complete the phrase):

(   ) in high spirit

(   ) encouraged

(   ) busy

(   ) determined

(   ) inconsequent

(   ) a warrior

(   ) mature

(   ) lucky

(   ) a ninja

(   ) admirable

(   ) happy

(   ) crazy

(   ) all of the above

And still there are those who ask: “When does the fourth kid come????”

The truth is: people are wrong when they think of applying economies of scale techniques when the matter is children. It’s impossible. Kids need (and we do, too) individual real time. Chronological time.

People are wrong when they think of a mere multiplication by three. I believe that we have to raise it to the third power:

  • Challenges cubed;
  • Responsibilities cubed;
  • Opportunities for growth cubed;
  • Love cubed – this is really good!!!

drawing with a father, a mother and three children

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You can also see:

Are your kids as mine?

Is your baby as mine?

School Lunch

It was so cute when they… yet I miss…

This post in Portuguese: Coisas que só quem tem três filhos (ou mais) sabe o que são

School Lunch

jack and the beanstalk

Len Ebert / Picturebook

I was picking my three children up at school. Then, they started having the following conversation, on the back seat of the car:

1. “When I grow up, I wanna be a restaurant.”

2. “You cannot be a restaurant. A restaurant is not a living thing. Living things are people, animals, plants…”

1. “Ok, then I wanna be a tree.”

2. “You look like a bean, that’s it!”

1. “So, I’m gonna grow up to the sky!”

3. “The bean plant cannot reach the sky.”

1. “Yes, it does! The bean plant of Jack and the Beanstalk did!”

3. “It’s a made-up story by the Europeans. They like that kind of tale.”

2. “Things like giant kingdoms don’t exist. The sky is something sacred, Mommy told me.”

1. “You mean, did Jack of the Beanstalk meet God?”

And me driving the car and thinking to myself: what did they put in these kids’ food at school????

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You can also see:

Are your kids as mine?

The Tooth Fairy

It was so cute when they…yet I miss…

This post in Portuguese: Merenda

It was so cute when they… yet I miss…

It was so cute when they…

… yet I miss…

… started grabbing their little pillows, saying good night and going to bed by themselves… … seeing them with “combed” squeezed eyes until sleeping in my arms.
… learned how to take a bath by themselves… …wrapping them with a towel, all perfumed and fresh.
… learned how to read… … when they would invent the stories only by looking the images.
… started to wake up and play, waiting for us to get up… … when they would go tiptoeing to call us in our bedroom.
… were promoted to the advanced swimming class… … when they did the baby swimming class and we would go with them in the pool.
… started using the first little underclothes… … (A LOT!!!) the diapers when they sprinkle the whole bathroom except the toilet (boys), or when we are out and they ask to poop, and the public WC is the dreaded mess of the eeew of the yuck.

You can also see:

Are your kids as mine?

Is your baby as mine?

This post in Portuguese: Achei lindo quando… mas sinto falta de…

Juggling mother? No, thanks

juggling mother

Image: Journal Times – Tim Ludwig / The Wichita Eagle / MCT)

The term “the juggled life” suggests an existence characterized by ceaseless activity, awareness, and concentration, in which the real “trick” lies in maintaining the illusion of effortlessness.

[…] The consequences for successful juggling are even worse than the consequences of doing it poorly. The better at it you are, the harder and longer you will work. The more accomplished your performance, the more invisible your efforts become.

(MAUSHART, Susan. “The Mask of Motherhood – how becoming a mother changes our lives and why we never talk about it.” Penguin Books)

I work at the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil (House of Representatives), in the Social Communication sector. On March 31st, 2011, as part of the celebration for International Women’s Month, the talk show “Woman and her plurality of roles” was presented. The image for publicity was a sequence of illustrations with the same woman in several situations: as a manager, a mother, an athlete, a housewife and so on.

At that time, I had posted on Facebook my discomfort about that image: “not due to the plurality itself, because it can be enriching, but due to the insisting concept that presents the multitasking and perfect woman in all roles. It’s even said it’s an innate feminine brain attribute, meant as natural, with no question. To me, that “pedestal” just leads to a fragmented, exhausting and frustrating life.”

Woman and her plurality of rolesThe comments were nice! From the idea that everybody can be manifold, both men and women; the verification that we can assume a tiring madness even when we are aware we don’t need it. And the will of being only “me”, without any role…

My friend Vera Morgado, the event presenter, suggested me to open that reflection in the debate.

My question to the debaters was:

“So much is said about the juggling woman. But the juggler has the plates in the air. She doesn’t appropriate the plates. She doesn’t prioritize any of them in order to avoid them to drop. When a plate falls down, it’s she who breaks. And when she handles the plates, the show is over and nobody pays attention anymore. How can we get rid of this metaphor?”

The answers were very interesting!

The actress Elisa Lucinda talked about the danger for us, when we confound our personality with the tasks we do. She also asked us to not suffer with the dropped plate: “after all, there’s the saying ‘The rings go away, the fingers stay’ (in English, the saying is “Better lose the saddle than the horse.”). I say: ‘the breastpins go away, the breasts stay’.”

The psychologist Carmita Abdo said that we should take advantage of our feminine multitasking features in our own benefit, aggregating, pacifying, for our personal progress.

And the deputy (representative) Janete Pietá summarized, in just one phrase, everything that now I’m looking for:

“Better than being a juggler is being the circus owner.

It’s being the CEO of ourselves.”

white mug

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You can also see:

Only mothers are happy – Marusia speaks

Mothers in animated feature films, TV series and cartoons 3: why do we identify ourselves with them and see them as references?

This post in Portuguese: Mãe Malabarista? Não, obrigada

The World’s best play

Do you remember when you un-learned to play? And now, as a parent with children, what to do? This post is about that.

I can consider myself a lucky person because I played a lot. Not only with typical “girl things”, like dolls, role-playing house or school, but also riding a bike, playing soccer, marbles and all kind of games: hide-and-seek, tag, cops and robbers, capture-the-flag, dodgeball and so on.

When I was home, I would create “movies” with dolls. My brothers would start playing and suddenly there they were, hypnotized, watching me playing. Sometimes, the stories took days, with many “chapters”, in enchanted kingdoms, lost forests, parallel worlds or the Mushroom Family’s quotidian.

brazilian toy happy world

When I was 15, I already had a boyfriend. Although I still kept playing with dolls. I would promote Suzi (the Brazilian version of Barbie) fashion contests, those were very competitive among brothers and neighbors. Hilarious recordings with special sound effects (sea waves using the out of air TV; horse trotting on shoe boxes). Or theater plays with cousins. I meant rest for the mothers, mesmerizing all kids, for hours. People used to say: “how good she is with children!”

brazilian doll susi

When I would go to my cousin’s home, who was 1 year older than me, I’d notice she would tidy up the doll house with all furniture, but after that she wouldn’t be in the mood for playing. Later, it happened to me: I loved to organize the scenarios, the characters, but the “movies” didn’t flow anymore.

Time went by. My children were born. I have even been trying to recreate the old plays, but it was in vain. I struggled to find where and when I lost my original spontaneity and enthusiasm. Perhaps it’s because now the stories have been happening in reality: my real home, my profession, my family. I wasn’t “good with children”. Actually, I WAS a child. Now, I’ve been playing being a grown-up, and the act of fantasizing lost its fun a little.

I found out other things. If I want to play with my kids, I choose toy blocks, Lego or wood building bricks, because of my sense of organization. Or table games like domino or memory, to enjoy together and not to only guide the play.

There’s a play, however, which is invincible in my preference: hair-dresser. I divide hair locks equally among the interested kids, spread dozens of hair elastic bands, clips and ribbons, combs and hair brushes and let them invent the coiffure they want. Justice be made, this idea wasn’t mine. They love it. Me too. I deal with a pull here, a stuck ribbon there, but I keep quiet, just enjoying the pampering, sometimes I even have a nap.

It’s also useful during boring-waiting-situations, like at the airport or the doctor’s office. I become a big toy and, even without the ribbons, they spend hours combing, curling, braiding and separating the locks, entertained. I even saw children from other families wanting to play, too.

You can call me a non-imaginative, lazy person, who is misleading my innocent children. I propose a challenge, though. Just try it. Afterwards, those who don’t like those rapid little fingers massaging your head and combing your hair, cast the first hair brush! hahaha

Marusia smiling

Creation by my little hair-stylists!

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You can also see:

The Tooth Fairy

Only mothers are happy – Marusia speaks

This post in Portuguese: A brincadeira mais gostosa do mundo

Advice I love

girls dressed as fairies

By Anne Guedes

Pregnant women and first-time mothers (and even the third-time mothers like me) are target for rains of advice. Sometimes, many interventions, from many sources and such varied contents can really cause confusion. But now I want to talk about “winning” advice, the ones that made and keep making the difference to me and I wish to share: advice I love.

From my sister Maria: “Don’t wait for your belly to grow to rub moisturizer.”

The skin must be previously prepared and hydrated, already in the beginning of the pregnancy, when the belly still hasn’t grown yet. So, you prevent sensibility and weakness that origin strias and stains on the skin. Actually, moisturizing is always important, for pregnant and non-pregnant women; we deserve this daily ritual.

From my friend Luciana: “The baby sucks with craving even in the first nursing.”

I had some idea about the difficulties of breastfeeding, mainly in the beginning, but I thought they were due to the nursing frequency, and not because of the suction intensity or the baby’s latch. Luciana’s statement was great and helped me not to be surprised.

From my sister Maria: “Everything goes away.”

In the post-partum, when we feel in the middle of a hurricane, with thousands of hormones under our skin, new incumbencies and never seen before emotions, we can be inclined to doubt that truth. However, if we allow ourselves to accept it, it makes us free. Everything goes away. And goes away fast.

From my friend Daniela, when I was expecting my second child: “When the baby is born, your oldest son will look very big.”

It is correct and valuable. My oldest son was only 2 years old when my daughter was born, but he looked like a giant in comparison to the new-born. The danger, wisely warned by Daniela, is acting as if he were grown-up and mature. The advice was great, to not demand postures and behaviors above his age. After all, he was a baby too, with needs, facing the absolutely new circumstance of his sister’s arrival, with whom he would have to share his parents’ attention.

From my brother Junior: “Children have happiness expiration times.”

Being aware of this wise tip avoids a lot of annoyances. When the “happiness expiration time” is up, it means it’s time to go home and rest. Insisting on doing anything else leads to suffering the consequences of an angry child, who will do everything to drive us crazy, and then the tour loses its purpose. It’s important to remember that, when you take kids to a “grown-up people event”, without activities that include or entertain them, their expiration time is shorter. It partially explains the fits in supermarkets and shopping centers.

From my kids’ pediatrician (who was my own pediatrician, too): “Hug your children.”

Shantala, massage during the bath, the need of being held in the lap, skin-to-skin contact: these things are largely recommended for babies. However, the fondling becomes rare as soon as the child begins to get big. Touching is not only for babies! 8, 9 year-old children, teenagers, even adults need a hug, being taken in the parents’ arms. This is therapeutic, prophylactic. Healing.

From my mother: “If you want to, you can keep your activities, you can work. But it’s very important staying home on your kids’ sleeping time.”

Sleeping time is sacred and has different representations in children’s minds – representations of tenderness, affection, shelter. It’s worth trying it.

And you? Do you have a “winning” advice?

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This post in Portuguese: “Conselhos que amei”

The origami angel

origami angel inside a plastic case

Do you know about those bad-hair days? I remember once upon a time… I got some health problems; things were annoying at work; and, to get it worse, I was felling a cramp strong enough to make one bend down. In moments like those, we aren’t so tolerant. The only thing I really wanted was: “may the day end fast.”

Noon, everybody seated to have lunch. Then my daughter, at that time 4 years old, found my hand. I felt a little impatience: “oh, my, I’m not in the mood for anything, not even for these child needs…” In my mind, everything and everybody were demanding from me in a moment when I couldn’t give anything at all… albeit I took out the rest of courage from the deep bottom of me, and reciprocated, holding her little hand. And I could observe that she, all the time, kept looking at her plate, eating normally; she was only taking my hand tightly.

I breathed deeply, closed my eyes and started feeling a special energy invading my body. As a empty bike tire being filled by air, I felt recovering, reinvigorating. I realized that the contact with that soft, warm small hand brought an immense physic and mental well-being to me.

Aside from the instantaneous relief for my stress, I felt ashamed to have thought, in the beginning, she had been demanding attention unnecessarily. Actually, she hadn’t been asking anything; plus, she shared her energy with me. Some people attribute this kind of gesture to one of typical features of the “indigo children”. About them I don’t know much. They can help other people, even not knowing how or why to do it, they just do it, instinctively. Exactly as she did, not realizing anything.

Recently, my daughter gave me another spontaneous and wonderful gift. She was organizing her drawings in a paper case, when she found an origami angel, made at school one year before. Out of nowhere, she left the angel on my bed table. When I saw it, I asked her why she had taken out the little angel from the case. I asked her to keep it, because the angel could get dirty or spoiled if it were exposed.

Later, I noticed the angel remained on the bed table, but now it was in a small, transparent plastic case. It was, she looked for something in order to protect it, but she made a point of leaving it beside my bed. I got very intrigued, and fortunately I managed to decipher the subtle language behind all of these things.

For a year, I was suffering from disconcerting nightmares. The matter is: I couldn’t ever remember the details, only they were very real and tense. I’m very attached to dreams, having already done a lot of researches on the theme, and that lack of definition was driving me worried. Thus, that paper angel reminded of me the importance of trusting in a superior Truth, in the sureness of a permanent care, as long as we connect to it.

I have been concentrated on these thoughts before sleeping, and my sleep has been getting calmer day by day. Of course my daughter couldn’t know anything about it. She wasn’t aware of what she did. She just did. I thank God a lot for having given me an angel in flesh and bone, with my other two angels and all the equally angelical presences He has been putting in my way.

origami angel

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You can also see:

From daughter to mother

This post in Portuguese: O anjo de origami

A short and bald guy – Marusia speaks

You had never imagined that the greatest love of your life would be a short and bald guy.” I didn’t like this wordplay. It’s not because I don’t have a “sense of humor”. I just think the ad is not funny.

I am not talking about “politically correct” things, that are, by the way, hypocrisy or, at least, a bore, to me. I’m talking about the perpetuating of some prejudices only to not “miss an opportunity to joke”.

To avoid somebody saying I’m grumpy, I’m going to transcribe a tweet I saw, also about babies and baldness – that’s really good:

Isabelly (5 years old), with her vast and curly hair,  observed the photos taken when she was a baby, virtually bald, and shoot: “Mom, was I born man?”

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You can also see:

Love is…

This post in Portuguese: Baixinho e careca – Marusia fala

My son needs glasses

Today, I found out my 8 year-old son must wear glasses. I wear them, my husband wears them, that’s a family thing. It’s so predictable that, since he was 4, we had been doing his eye examinations, which were up to now normal. This year, I have already been suspecting of a little difficulty for him to see well. Now, it is confirmed. Those beautiful and expressive eyes, which are his registered mark, are behind lenses. Just a little myopia; he can even dispense the glasses to play soccer. But suddenly a lot of worries came to my mind!

I wear glasses since I was 6. For a long time, I was the only one in my classroom. As a short, thin, introspective and nerdy girl, I was the perfect target for jokes. As my mom was. Although, just until a little while ago, that kind of joke was considered only a “child thing”, nobody took it seriously, nobody cared much.

Alvin and the Chipmunks - SimonAt least at home everybody would have to deal with the same troubles. And also with funny situations. When we would go to the beach, for instance, walking out from the sea was complicated. We were dislocated by the waves and simply couldn’t find the family’s parasol on the sand. Meanwhile, the others would be observing from afar, laughing a lot, the “Mister Magoo” brother, lost, tightening the eyes and approaching each and every beach umbrella, looking for a known face!

When I was 12, my mother gave me a pair of contact lenses. It was such a big revolution to me that I ended up abusing them. The result: a keratoconus has formed in my eyes, a problem in my corneas that contraindicates surgery and the use of soft contact lenses.

So, those memories overwhelmed me like in the day my son left the kindergarten to go to a “big school”. I thought to myself: “Oh my, he is going to live so many things there… experiences for his entire life. The first exam, the first date, the gang… The first low test score, the first disappointment… And now, he is going to deal with all of these things wearing glasses…

Associating a person wearing glasses with the “intellectual” is unavoidable. It discourages, in the beginning, the “flirters”. A Brazilian rock band, called “Paralamas do Sucesso”, has the song “Óculos” (“Glasses”). The vocalist, Herbert Vianna, sings about his bad luck with girls: “Por que você não olha pra mim? Atrás dessa lente também bate um coração. Atrás dessa lente tem um cara legal.” (“Why don’t you look at me? Behind these lenses, there’s also a heart that beats. Behind these lenses there’s a cool guy.”). I identify myself instantaneously with this song! All of a tribe, which had also identified themselves, felt betrayed when Vianna finally did the corrective eye surgery.

Thank God the day when I met my husband I had my glasses on! Nobody can say it was misleading propaganda hahaha!

Harry Potter with his owl EdvwigesSeveral things tranquilize me, though. Nowadays, parents and teachers are more aware, and many kids in my son’s school wear glasses, too (he is not the only different boy). Nowadays, the humiliation, formerly considered as a “child thing”, has already received a name: Bullying. Many studies, books and even law projects treat this subject, and the schools are concerned about banning this practice for good –  even though I know how kids can be cruel sometimes.

Afterwards, I hope he can do the surgery (and a cool technology can be invented in order to resolve my problem, too). Until then, my role as a mother (and an authority on this theme, who lives with it day by day), is to provide my son with such an invincible self-esteem that his glasses become just a mere detail; a useful object to improve his vision sharpness and that’s it.

I came to the following conclusion:

We cannot prevent our children from living some experiences, even the most difficult ones. Better, WE DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT OF preventing them from living some situations which can yield them to grow up.

Everything just depends on the way we prepare them.

Everything just depends on our points of view.

“Behind these lenses there’s a cool guy”, a pretty cool guy, who has a beautiful future ahead.

superman wearing glasses

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You can also see:

The Tooth Fairy

From daughter to mother

This post in Portuguese: “Meu filho vai usar óculos”, originally published on March 11th, 2011.

Love is…

Visited site: http://fansofkimcasali.multiply.com/photos

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Who said that the models of perfection are only related to mothers? Fathers also have to carry them…

love is birth

Love is… staying beside her while the baby is being born. (Kim Casali)

 
Love is newborn

Love is… holding the new-born carefully. (Kim Casali)

 
  
love is newborn and father

Love is… believing that the first son takes after the father. (Kim Casali)

 
love is crying

Love is… getting up when the baby cries. (Kim Casali)

 
love is pride

Love is… being proud of your child. (Kim Casali)

 
love is playing

Love is… letting the kid play and jump on your belly early in the morning. (Kim Casali)

 
love is happiness

Love is… sharing the happiness that the baby brings. (Kim Casali)

 
love is diapers

Love is… changing diapers and… washing them. (Kim Casali)

 
love is difficulty

Love is… saying “our kid”, even when he/she is too difficult. (Kim Casali)

 
love is... jealousy

Love is… not being jealous when she pays attention to the children. (Kim Casali)

 
love is breakfast

Love is… making breakfast while she prepares the children to go out.

 
love is rest

Love is… tidying up the house for mommy to rest. (Kim Casali)

 
love is beauty

Love is… saying she is beautiful even when she is a mess. (Kim Casali)

 
love is flirting

Love is… flirting with your wife even after the sixth child. (Kim Casali)

 
Free translation of the texts from the “Amar é…” sticker album, published in 1980 in Brazil.

In 1980, Abril Publishing (Brazil) launched the first version of the “Amar é…” sticker album (Love is… – copyright: United Feature Syndicate). It was a huge success.

The naked couple was created by the New Zealander artist Kim Grove Casali. They illustrated the love notes Kim sent to her boyfriend (later her husband) Robert Casali, in the Sixties. In the Seventies, the drawings got a permanent space in the Los Angeles Time newspaper and conquered the world, shown in cartoons, cards and stickers.

I collected the stickers of the “Love is…” album. I was 8. I couldn’t complete it, but I have kept it.

Today, I found a curious thing. When children appear on the stickers, in most cases the message is addressed to the father: changing (and washing) diapers, getting up at night, playing… If we consider that the cards are from the 1960’s, Kim was a revolutionary woman!!! At the same time, a realist one: the father in the cartoons doesn’t deny he is annoyed with some of the new chores! hahaha

HOW CUTE!!!!

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You can also see:

Are your kids as mine?

This post in Portuguese: Amar é…