I don’t want to feel better.

Pet peeve of the day. Consolation.

Maybe I’m being a bit ridiculous, but I genuinely dont want to be made to feel better. At least not the way you think.

There is a verse which says “Do not comfort your friend while his dead lie before him.” The point being, it doesnt help. No one wants to be made to feel better when an event or situation is still current or raw. A good friend will not actively try to comfort, but rather just listen and be sympathetic, which in my opinion makes a much more substantial difference to how you’re feeling.

One of the most grating sentences ever uttered is, “may that be the worst thing that ever happens to u!” This tends to be said when you’re particularly upset over an event which may not be in truth, earth shatteringly important. No one has died, no great financial loss has been incurred. But do you know what? I’m still upset.
What is basically belittling my sadness and telling me the equivalent of ‘worse things happen,’ is not only ridiculous (because yes, of course worse things happen than missing my bus / losing my oyster card / waiting half an hour for a tardy friend [can you tell I don’t drive?]) but frankly unhelpful. Did you think I was going to jump out of my misery, exclaiming “wow, I forgot about all those starving kids in Africa, I’ll cheer up now”?
Aside from the uselessness of that comment, it is also extremely condecsending. It suggests that nothing more important has ever happened in your life that could compete with your trauma of the day. Which is obviously not true. You dont need a degree in sociology to be aware that it’s the little things which throw us into a tailspin of moodiness, wheras real life crisis normally summons strength and composure we didnt know we possessed.

It seems to be obvious and so easy to me that when someone is upset, they genuinely just want to hear, “I’m so sorry, that must be so hard for you.” Whether a big life event or a trivial occurence, if someone is in a bad mood, that’s the way it is! Why should we have to be ‘talked out’ of it?

I’ve found that a lot more men are guilty of this than women. I think this theory heads back to caveman times. Men, as ‘Hunter-Gatherer-Provider’ types, have an inbuilt desire to ‘fix’ problems. Even when there is nothing to fix. Most of the time, when us poor ‘Frail Weak’ woman types have a problem, all we really want is a shoulder to cry on. Someone to tell us that we look pretty and offer to punch whoever/whatever was mean to us. (Calm down feminists, I’m hyperbolising, but you get my point.) When men cant fix, they get jittery at being asked to use their more emotional side to -Gasp- listen to us and be sympathetic.. so they tend to keep trying to fix, long after it’s clear they can’t unburn the lasagne for you, and you just need a good wail.

I’m sure I dont speak for all people-kind. I suppose there are folks out there who hate even the smallest amount of wallowing, and would prefer to be snapped out of their bad moods immediately upon occurence, and if a solution is out there, they want everyone in their lives on ‘fixing mode’ until it’s sorted.

I will have to apologize to you for my generalisation via this blog, as I wouldnt want to meet with that much good-naturedness face to face.

I’m not a baby…Not yet a toddler..

-Sung to the tune of the Britney Spears classic, ‘I’m not a girl not yet a woman’-

While Britney was whining about her inner turmoil at being trapped between a million dollar recording contract and her desire to be with multiple movie and pop stars simultaneously, I feel my one year old has a far more serious axe to grind.

At each juncture in the day, you can see the scales shift between babydom and toddlerhood. This means that while I am certainly enjoying the pros of both, I am also saddled with the painful cons.

This appears to be true in every aspect of his life. Eg: Food. My toddler now eats anything and everything. I don’t have to avoid certain foods, I can relax on the salt and sugar content in what I feed him, (as much as we ever should) and he is striving for independence in eating and feeding himself.
However, my baby cannot tell me what meal he fancies that day, or why he is throwing pieces of lunch from his highchair with anger. He has no words to let me know when he wants a break, or a drink, or even that he’s had enough. While my toddler is desperate to hold and use the fork, my baby has very little clue how to get the food onto it in the first place, or keep it there once it’s loaded.

Sleep. My baby is no longer such a baby that he wakes in the night. But he is enough of a toddler that he has dropped to one (sometimes painfully short) sleep during the day. Enough of a baby that he wont go to sleep if he is 10 minutes too tired for his nap, and will fall asleep if I accidently push him too long in the buggy. Enough of a toddler that he wont automatically fall asleep in the buggy just because it’s the right time / I’m shaking it up and down.

Playing. My baby cant roll a ball towards me, he cant play kitchen with me, he cant build a tower which is more than 3 blocks tall (an impressive feat nonetheless). He wont sit still for a whole story, and he has no idea where the jigsaw pieces go, other than his mouth. However, my toddler is not interested in shiny lights and soft music, he wont sit happily in a bouncy chair or any kind of stationary toy, and he isnt entertained endlessly by silly faces or strange noises.

I could go on, but you get the point. I suppose this stage is different for every baby, and every mother probably deals with it differently. For me, I find it hard not to find the transition kind of sad. I’m not necessarily enjoying the new stages, because they come so slowly and are frustrating until they are complete, at which point they are no longer a novelty. And at the same time, it’s hard saying goodbye to each part of your child that made him a baby, and therefore that much more dependent on you. I am missing my baby, and yet at the same time hoping for a more competent and interactive toddler.

But as she so often does, Britney has the right answer. 😉 “All I need is time … while I’m in between.” It wont last forever.  I should enjoy all these stages, the frustrating in between ones just as much, because before I can blink, let alone a toddler, I’ll be wondering how my newborn baby became a teenager.

Dont forget to give thanks for Target.

Seasons greetings. Thanksgiving is not something I really understand the reasons for, but it gives me ample opportunity to blog American content, so I’m going to embrace it.

I do have one issue with it though..

  • Why is the official thanksgiving food turkey? You’re about 3 weeks away from having a giant turkey on Christmas! Surely it’s like how if you eat doughnuts too close to Chanukah you spoil the excitement? Besides which, turkey is the worst of the meats. I’m not sure why ANY festive day would involve a meat which manages to be both dry and greasy simultaneously, let alone two in the space of a month. Get a new food Thanksgiving, I reccomend Lamb.

Most people, when talking about American vs English, will immediately jump into a debate on different words and pronounciations, as well as meanings which have been confused on their way across the ocean sea. Not me. Being a huge fan of America, American shopping, American TV, Hollywood, Broadway, and my very own husband, I have learned to accept and love most things loud and in your face. (The opposite of him actually.) I have however, compiled a list of interesting things I’ve noticed in conversation with our friends the yanks, and list them here, with obviously no offence meant!

  • Want to see an interesting mix of emotions cross an americans face? Tell them you play Bingo. Whereas here, it has become semi-cool for us youngsters to habit a bingo hall on a weekday evening, sharing the floor with the pensioners and white trash, in the states, from what i can tell, Bingo is strictly confined to church halls and early bird dinners. Try it now american friends, thank me later.
  • Hi there USA, ‘Burglarize’ is not a word. Well what else is it called when you’ve been burglarized by evil burglars? Robbed. It’s called Robbed.
  • UK folks.. Imagine being Kosher in the states. Walking around your supermarket, picking things up, scanning the label, and then just putting it in your trolley. No wistful sighs, no reminding yourself to look it up when you get home, and no texting a friend to see if they can product search it for you online. Incredible. I think moving to the states must be like getting a free pass from God to start eating anything you like. Or like stopping being Lubavitch and having your first Pesach free from grinding your own almonds. (True slavery to freedom.)
  • This one is not confirmed, please help if you can, but I have heard a rumour that Americans do not know what the word Curry means. I actually think that says a lot about the difference in society… Then again, I know what Sombrero means.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The usual suspects

I don’t know how many of you have had the misfortune to take your kids to hospital appointments. My guess would be most. Whether its routine check ups, short term problems, or something more serious, we all find ourselves sitting in doctors waiting rooms from time to time.

With R’s nystagmus, we have settled into a twice yearly bundle of appointments which last about one month. Tiring and stress inducing, yes. But also lots of time for people watching.

I give you, The usual suspects of the paediatric clinic.

1. The attention seeking child.
He decides you are the most likely people in the waiting room to appreciate his genius humour, and therefore spends the waiting time trying out jokes, funny faces, stories and limitless attention grabbing poses. Although annoying, and certainly not funny, he alone generally doesnt take up too much of your time before he is removed, unless he is disasterously paired with #2.

2. The overly doting mother.
An exaggerated version of most mothers, this mum doesnt only think her kid is adorable, (which we all are guilty of) but she is certain that the rest of the world must think it also. Generally brought on by whatever reason they are also at the child clinic, I cant blame her for her doting attention on her child, but I can blame her for inflicting it on the rest of us. When paired with the kid above, you have no hope of the child being removed from your immediate vicinity, as why wouldnt we want to listen to a 2 hour stand up performance from her little angel? Why, we should be thanking her for the entertainment. Isn’t he just precious? Isn’t he just hysterical? Cue tight forced smiles until your name has been called.

3. The germy kid.
Unlike in a regular doctors office, where you always take your life in your own hands to see a GP, in a specialist clinic, you shouldnt generally need to come armed with hand gel and face masks. However, (and I really do feel for the parents, as one day no doubt it will be my turn) we all wait up to a year for some of these appointments, and no gosh darn cough or cold is going to make us miss it. So I see you bundle the child in question up, take them to the appointment anyway, and try to ignore the other mothers evil stares while your spluttering wheezing child fingers all the books and toys and coughs on any unsuspecting kid in their vicinity. I presume you know they should be in bed, so I dont judge you, only pity you. Because on behalf of all the other mothers in that waiting room, we all hate you.

4. The uncomfortable dad.
I can see it written all over your face. You shouldn’t be here. You should be in your important job attending an important meeting about important stuff. Due to some crazy twist of the natural order, your wife actually had something more important than you to do today, (is that even possible?) and so you have taken over chaperone duty. You dont know where you should be going, you don’t know where to hand this form into, your kid is coaching you on the names of the doctors, and you have a list of questions in your wife’s handwriting that you keep fingering nervously in your pocket. The sooner this whole thing is over, the better.

5. The Jew that is making us all look bad.
Do they keep a chassidish man with no social skills in the closet at every hospital to take out when an ordinary modern orthodox couple come along to make us feel like we want to die? He barely speaks a language that isnt yiddish, (I would imagine the secretary doesnt really understand your ‘nu’ing.) he brings with about 7 books to learn, all of which are giant, (ever heard of a pocket mishnayot?) he entirely ignores the child he has come with, having to be shaken to attention by the kid when her name is called, and talks loudly and unintelligibly on his phone for the duration of his visit. (then why bring the books?) And the very worst thing? He keeps looking at us. Stop it, it’s going to make people think we associate with you. Oh no wait, it’s so obvious you’re glaring at us, people will probably think we’re mortal enemies. Much better.

Feel free to add yours to the list, I’m off to another of November’s people watching sessions. I suppose I’m fairly earning the tag of ‘The eavesdropping starer’.

Ever eaten an entire packet of biscuits in one sitting?

Eat to live, or live to eat? A fun question that is posed regarding food. Do we eat simply to gain energy and get through the day, or do we love food so much that it becomes something to look forward to and revel in.

I love food. I love to cook, present, adapt and eat. I complain about the limited kinds (rather than amount) of kosher restaurants, I sigh with jealousy at the volume of hechshered american products.

I find myself so strongly on the ‘live to eat’ side of the argument, that I cant really see where the other side are even coming from. What, so you suddenly notice you’re hungry at random intervals in the day and find yourself a meal? You don’t use herbs or seasonings because it doesnt matter what things taste like? You dont have favourite meals that you get excited for?

I try and make sure that R has a varied and fun (as well as healthier than mine has ever been in my life) mix of foods. He has three big meals a day, and up to two snacks, and from what I can tell so far, with a few exceptions, he has joined his parents in the ‘live to eat’ camp. Perhaps more so than us, as I don’t remember a time that I needed tears to express just how much a fruit cup meant to me.

But I want him not just to have a healthy diet, but also a healthy attitude to food. And this I find harder to teach. As much as I’m so glad he enjoys to eat, and want to encourage his wide variety of tastes, I want to make sure that when he is ready to choose his own food, he makes sensible choices. Because really, neither ‘eat to live’ or ‘live to eat’ could be called a sensible choice. And one of the struggles I’ve inherited from my own gene pool, is maintaining a balance of not loving food too much.

There were many things that C and I discussed while I was pregnant, things we wanted to teach our son, things we wanted to begin or stop before he was born, so that he would never know any different. Having a child forces you not just to look at what you want from your marriage, but what you want from your family, and more importantly, what you want your own kids to want from their family. Making sure that your important values are imbibed in them from a young age, makes it so much more likely that what you care about is a no-brainer for them one day, and especially that your struggles are not the same for your children.

So I’m surprised it took me this long to realise that our unhealthy attitude to mealtimes and eating would one day rub off on him. It’s natural. If we are constantly grazing and snacking, and we cant watch a TV program without a bowl of something to nibble on, how can we expect him to keep his eating to breakfast, lunch and dinner. If we dont have the patience for cooking, and so grab a chunk of cake to tide us over, that will only be seen as normal for him when he is able to make his own choices about food. Putting a healthy mix of foods on his highchair every day is not enough, it’s learning by example that matters in the long run.

And so, a new eating plan commences. Food? Yes. And lots of delicious things included. But at mealtimes, and not late at night.. Healthy for us, Healthy for R, and Healthy for our future.

Wish me luck!