I Finally Feel Very Understood

Blogger Z wisely writes:

I was wondering about the advice and doom mode, people do do that about pregnancy and children, I was wondering why … and then thought: they do it about other milestones for women as well. Everything is always going to be awful.

I never understood, after always doing well in school, why people thought more and more that I would fail the further I got. When I became a professor the doom and gloom factor from others got so high that I wanted to leave the profession just so they would stop terrorizing me.

I have just realized, they do it about everything.

Yes. Yes. Yes. This is exactly how it is. If I had a dollar for every apocalyptic prediction people gave me whenever anything whatsoever happened in my life, I’d be a very rich person now. I’ve had to stop talking to people at all about my progress towards tenure, because I can’t process that much negativity.

I think this comes from the remnants of the mentality where a woman should stay at home with a broken leg (an old Spanish proverb), or the end of the world will ensue.

What Makes Freaks Even Freakier

People seriously tend to turn into complete freakazoids when they get a chance to badger pregnant women. Just see this comment from a weird creature – who claims to be a woman, no less! – and on whose blog I never left a single disrespectful comment.

The funniest thing is that the attack of nastiness overcame her precisely in reaction to a post where I asked people to stop dumping their aggression on me. And I don’t doubt that she screeches a lot about being a feminist both at work and in her private life, seeing no contradiction between identifying this way and bullying a pregnant woman whose only crime is that a long time ago she dared to express on her own blog an opinion that Her Majesty did not approve.

This is very, very sad.

General Announcement

I’d been amply warned that people feel an enormous aggression towards pregnant women but I didn’t know it would be as true as it proved to be.

OK, folks, I adore you all but you have got to get a grip on your desire to make me a receptacle of your aggression. I don’t want any more comments about how my baby will be defective, diseased, dead, messed up, a neurotic, an invalid, or a future serial killer. I also don’t want to hear about how my life will be horrible, messed up, out of control, and filled with neurotics and future serial killers. Seriously, you are scaring me with the amount of negativity I’m getting here.

I will continue writing posts about my pregnancy and about my parenting philosophy. If this makes you angry, upset, emotional, enraged, pessimistic, etc., I kindly ask you to take these emotions someplace else.

I also thank people who have managed not to be negative about this development.

Transvaginal Probes and Genetic Testing

I have a new-found horror of the legislation that aims to force transvaginal probes into women because I have had a personal encounter with one. Of course, mine was applied with my consent as part of elective genetic testing. I will not put you through reading a graphic narrative of the unpleasant physiological details, so don’t worry. I will just say that when N. (who was there at the procedure) observed what was happening, he was completely terrified.

“I will buy you a ring!” he exclaimed. (I’m a huge fan of rings.) “With sapphires! And diamonds!”

I can’t wait to see what he will say when he witnesses the C-section. It looks like I’m on my way to making out like a bandit from this pregnancy. (Now is the time to turn on your sense of humor.)

The reason why we needed the genetic testing is very curious. I just found out about this, so I will share it because I’m not sure everybody knows. N. is 36, and that is considered an at-risk group for genetic defects. The longer we live, the more genetic mutations can happen in our bodies. Since men generate a lot more spermatozoa than women produce eggs, the statistical likelihood of a genetic mutation in sperm is a lot more likely than in an egg.

However, there is no need to see the words “genetic mutation” as uniformly negative. They can be both negative and positive. What this means is that children conceived by a man who is over 35 have a higher likelihood of both having genetic diseases and of being especially talented, brilliant, beautiful, gifted, etc. So a Down’s Syndrome child becomes more likely but a genius becomes more likely, too.

Feeding a Child

There are many issues around raising a child that I still have to figure out but feeding is among the things that are crystal-clear to me. I know from sad personal experience that it is not a good thing to develop a deeply emotional relationship with food. There are too many people (especially in this overfed culture) who have an extremely unhealthy body image and a truly diseased relationship with food, and I want to spare my child this suffering.

So my philosophy of feeding is: let the the kid eat whatever, whenever, and however s/he wants. If s/he wants to eat once a day while hanging from the chandelier, yip-dee-doo! Small children by definition have the healthiest approach to food possible. If you don’t believe me, try to remember the last time you saw a toddler obsessed with losing weight in order to look like another toddler on TV and fretting that s/he has gained another pound. Also, try to think of a two-year-old’s body image and compare it to your own. So who’s got a healthier attitude to food?

I’m not afraid that my child will learn to eat unhealthy food because we never have any nuggets, frozen pizzas or chips in the house. We eat fresh fruit and vegetables in industrial quantities, so I don’t need to make any extra effort to introduce a child to them. They are just there, all the time.

As soon as the baby learns to crawl, I will buy several beautiful bowls. I will fill one with pieces of fresh fruit and another one with chocolate and candy and place them in the baby’s room where s/he can reach them easily. A couple of years later, I will add a bowl of nuts. I will replenish them as they empty out. Depriving children of sweets is counter-productive and very controlling. One area where my relationship with food is ultra-healthy is the area of sweets and desserts. My great-grandparents always persecuted me with requests to eat one more piece of candy or “just this little chocolate bar, why won’t you?” So I never saw desserts as forbidden fruit.

Today, I see people create very weird performances around “just one more piece of cake, why can’t I”, and know that I’m blessed to have a healthy relationship with desserts. Recently, I saw an acquaintance actually talk to a dessert (in a scary baby-talk way, too). She was begging it not to be so attractive to her. I asked what her parents’ policy on desserts used to be, and she told me that she only got a piece of cake or an ice-cream as a reward for behaving well or getting good grades. I really don’t want my child to have to talk to cakes 40 years from now.

It is absolutely, completely, totally crucial not to make a child eat against her or his will or try to trick the kid into eating (by reading stories or telling fairy-tales while s/he eats, for instance). It is also extremely damaging to promise rewards for eating (let alone punish for not eating). There are no recorded cases of a child dying of starvation in front on a food-filled refrigerator in a developed country. So the anxiety of “OMG, s/he is not eating!” is not about the child. It is about an adult’s neurosis.

Until puberty hit at about 11, I rarely ate at all. I was a very small child and needed a lot less food than adults thought I should need. So they went out of their collective way to feed me. They danced, sang, begged, cajoled, read, promised, etc. to make me eat. Of course, they did all that from the best possible intentions. However, today I have a massive freak-out – I mean, an actual freak-out – if I can’t eat exactly when planned, have trouble eating in front of people, have a number of very bizarre rituals surrounding food, and spend a lot of time imagining what I will eat on the next day, until the end of the week.

The best, the healthiest approach to food anyone can have is that food is a very enjoyable way of maintaining existence. Babies and toddlers can teach us all about that because they don’t yet know* how to eat for prestige, to alleviate boredom, to self-medicate, to stifle down unpleasant emotions, etc. So it’s completely ridiculous that we, people who have accumulated a bunch of unhealthy eating practices and preferences, should impose our weirdness on those who still know when exactly, what exactly, and how much exactly they need to ingest to survive and feel good.

* Unless we are talking about the babies of extreme neurotics born in horrifying conditions, of course. I don’t see any reason to discuss such extreme cases on this blog, however.

When There Are No More Actors

Russia used to have a really phenomenal tradition of acting. Soviet actors had to learn to perform well in the absence of money for complicated (or even tolerable) makeup, special effects, and expensive costumes. Money for takes and editing was very limited. The actors knew that if they didn’t have talent to carry them through a scene, nothing could be used to substitute for an artistic gift. This is one of those situation where lack of money preserves a craft.

Now that Hollywood-like strategies of film-making have penetrated into Russia and money has become plentiful, there are no more good actors in Russia. Pretty, photoshopped dolls who can’t portray an emotion or a thought for love or money have filled the screens. As a result, the desperate film-makers are forced to cast older, Soviet-era actors in the roles of young people.

A TV series based on Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina recently came out in Russia, and what a joke it is! The actress playing Anna Karenina is fifty. The actor who plays Levin is 51. (And remember that Russian hard-drinking 51 looks older than the American 71). Levin is supposed to be in his early thirties in the novel, while Anna is about 28-29. The actor playing Vronsky is 40. The 18-year-old Kitty is played by a 36-year-old actress.

Sadly, two of the actors playing in the series have already died since it was filmed.