Category Archives: Growing Up

Ideas – The Making of an Idealist

Photo by maxime-le-conte-des-floris

Rina Baraz Nehdar was born in a bad idea. Actually, the idea was probably a good idea when it transformed from thought to words but because of a lot of human blunderings, in the way of greed and discrimination, it was already a bad idea by the time she arrived. Her parents realized what a mess it was and decided to spare Rina the pain of having to live through the headaches and inconveniences bad ideas often produce, so they pulled roots and moved to a better idea.

Photo by Rina Baraz Nehdar

It’s hard living in a good idea, not even a perfect one, just a good one. The neighbors can get jealous and want to steal the idea (which is okay because there’s no end to the supply of love in good ideas) but what happens more often is that the neighbors want to destroy the good idea to make their own ideas, which may actually be bad, look better. Sometimes, people are even willing to kill and die for their ideas. This got a little worrisome for Rina’s parents as reports often surfaced of kids Rina’s age being blown up by bombs disguised as teddy bears. So, they up and moved again to an idea that was being heralded worldwide as a very strong and workable idea.

Statue of Liberty stands murky
Photo by Tom Coe

As Rina grew up, she realized that a lot of the fairy tales she had grown up hearing weren’t actually applicable to real life. This was true even living in a good, strong idea. After taking many self-destructive detours to combat the pain of awareness, she resolved to use her position of strength, supported by the resources the good idea offered, to help people whose voices were weakened or even strangled by the multitude of conflicting interests battling to be heard.

Kaleb the Sailor Man!

Today Kaleb is 14 weeks old. (that’s 3 months and six days for the laypeople)

And he is changing and growing. Fast. Too fast (see previous entry….).

When I first met him I thought he looked like a little Asian boy. Then he started to look like an Eskimo. I thought, who has Eskimo in their family? Then he started to fill in and started to look more Slavic . Which actually made sense since I am Russian and Howard has Polish in him. The outer edges of Kaleb’s beautiful, cobalt blue eyes have that Slavic upturned swing – like a dancing, drunk Russian.

Which is a little funny since I always think after he finishes eating at my breast, that he resembles a drunken sailor. When he’s rolling around on my lap with that drool barely hanging onto his lip, I’ll often sing to him a song they taught us in Elementary School music class:

What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor?
What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor?
What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor Early in the Morning?

(which also begs the question: why are they having little kids sing about drunken sailors? who makes these decisions?)

At his three month check-up, the doctor told us he was 24 inches long (I think they say “long” until he can actually stand up – at which point he becomes “tall”). He was 14 lbs. and 8 oz. which puts him into the 75th percentile, down from the 85th percentile of last month. (85%! I couldn’t believe it when the doctor told me – and then the dr. called him chubby and said something about cellulite on his tushy – WHAT! – I wasn’t sure if he was kidding or not – aren’t babies supposed to be chubby? at least they are in my family!). And his small head is still in the 35th percentile. He gets that from his daddy.

He laughs and giggles all the time now. At least in the morning. Or after he’s had a nap.

He talks up a storm. He says Ma-ma (or at least he puts those sounds together and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt).

He sings with me when I sing to him – or when the iPod is playing he’ll sing along. (maybe I’ll video-tape this for next time).

He rolled over from his tummy to his back two days ago. Twice. (Or maybe he was just trying to get out of tummy-time).

He grabs at his hanging stuffed animals and sometimes swats at them when they’re not responding to his opinions the way he likes.

He’ll hold onto a stuffed bear now and will suck the fibers out of any blanket.

And sometimes when he’s giggling and cooing at me, he starts to get shy and tries to hide his head. If he starts to giggle after he eats, which he frequently does, because who doesn’t feel great after getting to eat your favorite food yet again (boob milk, my favorite, how did you know?) he’ll be giggling, get shy…and then try to hide his head beneath my booby. He’ll not know the irony of this for some time.

But at night (or even some afternoons) he still sometimes acts like he’s auditioning for the next Freddy Kruger flick. (How is he able to scream that loud and that long and not lose his voice? There may be future for him in Rock n Roll.)

And the beautiful thing is when I say he only sometimes uses his vocal chords as claws on a chalkboard, I do mean sometimes.

Some may call this “colic” – that mysterious ailment that had doctors previously giving drugs (anti-depressants and anti-spasmotics) to infants (!) to cure. But I read an article recently that said colic can start at two weeks, peak at 8 weeks and decline until it completely disappears at 12. I guess that must be a statistical average.

But why does it seem like some babies have it worse than others? I think I know. Or, I have a theory anyway.

I think when babies come into this world, they’ve just left G-d. They’re closer to that World than the one in which they find themselves. They stare intensly into “empty” air for lengthy periods of time and laugh at things no one else can see (angels? fairies?). And at times, they all experience a type of separation anxiety. It must be shocking to realize that they’re no longer there and instead find themselves with these strangers. Sure, they may be nice but when they’re that new, they must also have a clear memory of their most recent bond and connection to their Love and Creator. I believe “colic” is a spiritual malady.

I also think some babies just feel things on a much deeper level than others. It’s the emotional seedlings of the people they will become and some carry the echo of this mysterious loss into their adult lives (you know who you are). But when these babies first arrive into this world, they must have an insatiable yearning to return to that Love. It must literally feel like they’re going to die without that Love and they wail their frustration at having been abandoned, screaming out the injustice of it all. Then, they (we) start to forget (or the lucky ones anyway). And slowly – they start to also notice the new love being showered upon them by their new guardians: their parents. And eventually they calm down because they like it.

But – then again, it’s not like we can ask.

Please Don’t Grow

The first time I met my son I immediately fell in love.

Well, not immediately, if truth be told. Immediately I thought – “Who’s that?” after they laid his slippery body on my stomach and his face shot up to within inches of mine – and we looked at each other with mutual fear and surprise.

But later, as the pain became something I would gladly endure again and again to receive such an amazing reward (mostly because it was now a memory), I gazed on his sleeping form on the eve of our first night together and thought I’d never loved anyone so shamelessly and completely.

And I could tell he was an old soul – not just because he came with male-pattern baldness and a comb-over.

For the first time in my life, I didn’t want TIME to hurry up and get somewhere else.

All I wanted was to hold him and love him and have him in my arms. I wanted TIME to stop so he wouldn’t grow up and leave.

Other mothers have said in consolation that TIME brings new joys with children and that it just keeps getting better. Two months into Kaleb’s life (10 weeks and three days) – I believe them – but am happy to just enjoy what I have. Although….I have to admit I am really enjoying the awareness that TIME is bringing into my son’s life.

Last week, we were hanging out in Kaleb’s room, my iPod playing in the background, me putting away his laundry – him lounging on his changing pad. Suddenly, I heard coos and aahhs join the chorus to Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’ Yeah! I yelled and grabbed him up to dance with me. And we rocked out together.

For a few weeks now I’ve had a couple cute, stuffed animals hanging off the handrail atop Kaleb’s car seat. Mostly, they were for me. They looked adorable but he was completely unaware of them. A handful of days ago, he started engaging the black and white cow and the pink teething pig in an emphatic conversation. I’m pretty sure he’s convinced them to see things his way.

And on occasion, my soothing voice actually cuts through his senseless fussiness. And by fussiness I mean: brain shattering, throat ripping, heart piercing wails for which I’ve been given no translation guide. (That part hasn’t been as much fun). But kisses will sometimes now turn his heartaches into smiles. It’s the best.

Right now he’s mine. Or ours. Our little guy. And my worry is: when he gets older, I have to give him up. And of course I do. That’s my job: to raise him to be a self-sufficient adult and a kind and happy man. But that also means I’ll need to let him go. And I am already dreading this.

I’m already seeing it happen with my 10 year old step-son, Kyle and his father, my husband Howard. Just a couple short months ago, Kyle would turn his head away in disgust when he’d witness people kissing on television. “Ewwwwww,” he’d plead if it was us showing the affection.

But last Wednesday, he graduated from Elementary School. He’ll be attending Lindero Middle School next year. And before they sent them off, they gave them a 5th grade graduation dance. And he asked a girl to be his date. A girl….with no ewwws in the vicinity.

Howard suggested Kyle ask her if she’d like for them to pick her up beforehand. And Kyle almost immediately picked up the phone to call and ask her! With no hesitation. Wow. I was really impressed with his temerity.

Before talking to him, she made sure when she answered his call, that it was really him by quizzing him about things only he’d know (like his last name). Apparently, some not as mature 5th graders had been plaguing her with crank calls pretending to be him. After ascertaining that it was indeed her date, she informed him that she planned on going with her friends and she’d just meet him there.

Then Howard suggested he bring her flowers. “OK,” he said and went across the street to a vacant neighbor’s house in search of the perfect rose to clip off their bushes. Just like that. Again, I didn’t remember being so fearless with the opposite sex when I was his age…..or even when I was 30.

He went to the dance and we got to peek in and see him jumping up and down with the girl and their friends and later we heard there was a slow song that he danced to with his date. Again, wow. I couldn’t believe this was the same boy I had met four years ago, age 6!, now a budding pre-teen.

I am happy for Kyle because he seems more relaxed in his new awareness. But I am watching my husband’s pain as he grapples with the reality that next year they won’t be walking to school together every morning – as they have done since Kyle entered Kindergarden.

And now I understand.

Most Photos are provided by our photographer friend, Suzy Shearer (that’s why I’m in them). Thanks Suzy! ( for more info)

Binky and Bottles.

Kaleb still lives in the Valley of Firsts.

Everyday (almost) it seems he is experiencing something within his world for the first time. I doubt he’s as aware of the implications of this as much as we are. I doubt he cares – when he bobs his head up and smiles at us – but we are overjoyed, ecstatic with glee. “Did you see that?” We point at his toothless grin, “He loves me!” Further proof of his genius.

Everyday it seems he is becoming more cognizant of his surroundings. He makes eye contact and holds his gaze evenly until his attention becomes focused elsewhere.

He is three weeks and five days old now. Oh, they grow up so fast!

I had certain plans for how I was going to raise our son – at least in the beginning: Breastfeeding, cloth diapers, no pacifiers, lots of hugs and kisses.

Even though I had planned on breasfeeding, I bought a pump so I could express milk and have other people join in the feeding fun. Well, when the recommended three week milestone to start to introduce the bottle came, I discovered, to my dismay, he didn’t like the bottle.

He cried and threw distress at me with his blotchy, red, contorted face, that, really, he wasn’t very interested in this plastic nipple thing and would much rather prefer the real thing. OK. No problem. I am patient and I could work on it with time.

So, he fed on my tit. Relentlessly.

I complained to Kaleb’s doctor about my sore (and now damaged) nipples and he told me to give him a pacifier in between what should have been the time between feedings. He should have been eating every two hours but at times, he would give me a bathroom break (maybe) and ask for more. Sometimes for hours at at time. In the middle of the night. I was hallucinating patterns on my baby’s face. That didn’t seem good.

At this point, I felt I had no choice. The doctor said he wasn’t really eating for all those hours and my boobs really needed the break.

So, with a cocktail of feelings mixed with guilt, shame and hope, I gave him a pacifier. And he hated it. Secretly, I felt a little relief. My boy was above that. He didn’t need any false stimulation to address a burgeoning oral fixation. I didn’t need to hang that on him.

But the bottle, I was determined to work on. I had a plan. Maybe if I started with the boob and then switched over to the bottle, he might not notice.

It worked.

Yay! My boy would eat with other people. Yay! I could go and do things for more than 1/2 an hour outside the home and know my son would not starve or be uncomfortable!

Then he started to cry. And I thought to myself: maybe now that he took the rubber nipple, he might be coaxed to take the pacifier too. I tried. And again, it worked.

I put him in his stroller and we walked into the park where I treaded on a path of guilt. How could I encourage such false dependence, based solely on my comfort? How could I sell out my own son, so quickly, because I needed a break?

This was the day that he first ate from the bottle and he first took a pacifier.

I wasn’t so sure I was happy with either.