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While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about - Angela Schwindt

>> 22 January 2008

Francoise Dolto had a very singular vision of the child. She was a paediatrician and psychoanalyst. She thought that word, explanation and communication was very important in the construction of an individual.

I am currently reading a few books by her which regroup a series of questions and answers she gave during dedicated radio broadcasts. Parents would write letters with their educational questions about their children, and Dolto would answer them during the radio show. This took place in the 70ies but still now I find her explanations and advice valid and useful.
Her thoughts were quite revolutionary at a time when it was thought that infants cannot understand nor suffer from what happens in reality. But she also addressed mothers, distressed parents who want to read and understand the symptoms of their children.
Of course a baby cannot talk yet, but Dolto anticipates that he can listen, understand and be pacified by a true voice if targeted at the child directly. She says 'children have a language before they speak a language'.

Children always understand.

Indeed, she contends that they understand in the womb. They need to be spoken to, to have things explained to them. They need to be listened to; their views need to be respected.

Dolto insists that no matter how painful, children must receive an authentic response to any question.
Although I do not agree with everything she says, I do agree with the fact that one should explain things to children and that, contrary to what we think, they understand a lot at a real young age. Our oldest son, now 20 months, has changed his behaviour slightly after the arrival of his brother one month ago. Of course he presents the normal and healthy jealousy traits, but sometimes he tends to cry out instead of talk to me. One day I was trying to get him to eat his soup as he had told me he was hungry. Immediately after the first spoonful he wanted to get out of his chair and refused to eat. Once out of the chair he said 'eat' again. Once in his chair I decided that he was going to stay there. He started to cry out - now this is a crying without tears, just a kind of discontented shouting for something I could not understand. At the same time his little brother was crying in the next room. You can understand that this situation was slowly getting on my nerves. After trying to discipline the eldest to no avail, it hit me. He was trying to communicate the same way his baby brother was, by crying. Once I understood that I tried to talk to him saying that his baby brother cries because he cannot talk yet. That his only way to tell me what he wants is by crying. But that he, the older brother, can talk and can therefore TELL me what he needs or wants. He does not need to cry. He looked at me with a frown like he was thinking very hard. Then he smiled and said 'eat'. He did not cry out anymore and finished he soup in no time.

I had my proof that talking to my child, explaining things to him even though I might think he is too little to understand helps.

The other day the oldest was staying over at my parents for two days (including one night). When he got back home he did not fall asleep as usual that night and we had to get him out with some milk and talk until finally, later on he fell asleep. We figured that staying over at his grandparents probably wasn't such a good idea with the new baby around for he might think that he is being pushed aside. The next time he went to his grandparents, I explained to him hat I would come pick him up that afternoon and that he would sleep at home. That he was going to his grandparents because I needed some time to do grownup things and take care of the baby but that this did not mean that I did not love him or tried to get rid of him. When he left with my father he turned around and said 'Mama pick up' meaning that he had very well understood me and knew I was coming to get him. Since then he presents no more sleeping problems.
I guess the above two examples are in line with what Dolto preached. I probably would have reacted in such a way even without having read any of her advice. I am a talkative mother and wherever I am with my children I constantly babble away at them telling them what I or we are doing. I guess Dolto just pointed a finger at something I unconsciously knew but probably was afraid of doing thinking my kids were too young for adult explanations.
At the moment my oldest starts pointing at his penis, saying 'zizi' and 'papa' and 'mama'. So I guess I have to prepare myself on explaining to him that mama does not have a zizi... I will hurry and read up on the subject :-)



Do one thing every day that scares you - Eleanor Roosevelt

>> 16 January 2008

Remember the 'Sunscreen song'?

It has Eleanor Roosevelt's quote 'Do one thing every day that scares you' in it - besides other good advice.

It is not easy to do something that scares you - let alone doing such a thing every day. That is why Jessie started the Be Brave project. Making such a commitment is already a brave thing.
What if you're at home and there is nothing really brave to do? Where does she get the inspiration for her brave actions? I will ask her and let you know.


We find a delight in the beauty and happiness of children, that makes the heart too big for the body - Ralph Waldo Emerson

>> 8 January 2008

Today I just want to share a wonderful list of

posted by Christine Kane which I found very inspiring. I love and totally agree with number 24: The way little kids hold their hands in the air as they walk. Number 54: Making Art, is another one. Since our extension is finished we are caught up in the never-ending finishing touches such as wallpapering, painting, adding and fixing window sills, curtains, lamps etc. But the list is getting smaller and ticking off the things that are done (most by hardworking other half) brings great satisfaction (to him :-).

We have bought new cupboards and shelves for our new office/"paiting and crafting atelier" where we intend to seriously take up on our painting again very soon. The storing of the painting supplies alone gave me a big rush. Finding the bulk of inspiring images torn out of magazines made me want to mix colours and get my hands dirty once more.
However, and related to my post from yesterday, I have not found anywhere that lack of sleep gives any sort of inspiration... haha.

So here are a few of my ways to be delighted nowadays...(in no particular order):
  1. Taking a quite shower while baby is asleep.
  2. Watching the night outside at 3 am while breastfeeding.
  3. The luxury of napping in the middle of the afternoon.
  4. Not having to go to work just yet.
  5. The pleasure of making chocolate cake.
  6. The smell of our newborn.
  7. Giving our sons a bath.
  8. Finding a little time to read a book.
  9. Finding a little time to post on this blog.
  10. The loving look my other half gives our baby.
  11. Decorating our new rooms.
  12. Taking pictures of our kids.
  13. Observing our first son when he is unaware I am.
  14. Receiving cards from people you only hear from at Christmas.
  15. Watching the sun break through the clouds.
  16. Going for a walk when it's really windy.
  17. Touching a tree.
  18. Lathering on lots of moisturizing body lotion after a shower.
  19. Eating chocolate.
  20. Being able to sleep on my stomach again :-)
  21. The changing eye color of our newborn.
  22. Getting a foot massage from my man.
  23. The feeling, the realization of being a parent.

So, feel free to start your own list and link it in your comment.


People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one - Leo J. Burke

>> 4 January 2008

Oh how I would like to write a thoughtprovoking, meaningful post on a political or psychological topic!

But on 19 December 2007 our second son joined our family and I have since been suffering from chronic sleep deprivation which does not allow for deep thoughts and elaboration of any topic other than sleep.

Believe me, if I were a dictator and had to torture someone, I would deprive him of sleep. It is worse than suffering hunger or thirst. Lack of sleep increases death, it has an influence on your metabolism, your brain activity, your blood pressure. And for me it obviously has an impact on the people around me. I am irritable and a little mishap such as a broken cup can be the end of the world.

Things weren't that bad when I had number one. I would sleep when he was sleeping. But number one now wants attention when number two is asleep. And number two still does not know the difference between day and night.

Luckily I have a very thoughtful, helpful and patient man who takes number one to the DIY store for a typical male exploration of the tools section. He cooks and does all the works that still need to be done with the extension of the house. And we have a cleaning lady.

Read this interesting article.

So bear with me while I catch up on my sleep and sanity and marvel at the little miracle in my arms.


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