I'm trying to figure out how African women get their kids to be seen and not heard. Now that's parenting!
Seriously, go to South Africa and see how the little ones are popped on Mama's back where they perch happily through the terrible twos and even beyond, watchful, but oh so quiet. How do they get the wee ones to zip it?
I recall, during Crabtot's colicky first trimester of life, reading Harvey Karp's book The Happiest baby on the Block, in which he talks about his own personal voyages to Southern Africa to divine exactly how moms manage to pull this silent contented baby thing off. Not sure I can recall the answer –those Karp-reading days are a fog, godlike as that elfin-ish baby-genius pediatrican was to me at the time – but I remain impressed all the same. I know it's not PC to want a silent child, but when your mite's having a tantrum or asking the same question fifty times, who wouldn't prefer her to be on your back for several years where you can't see her with her mouth firmly sealed? I think it's brilliant. I only wish I could tether squirmy-tot to my back and get that tiny mouth to clamp shut, but both tasks are woefully beyond my physical powers. And since I'm in a culture that, perhaps misguidedly, encourages expression at the youngest of ages, I'm doomed to Crabbytot chitchat, now and forever.
We've seen lot of the aforementioned silent, charming, dorsally-stashed babies on our last stop in South Africa—a remote beachtown called Haga Haga, in the magically simple and rural Eastern Cape, where my mother's family comes from.
Crabtot is the fifth generation of my family to make a childhood foray to this humble resort. I was last here 30 years ago. We stayed in a clapped out shack with no electricity. We bathed my baby sister in a plastic tub by the light of a paraffin lamp. Since having Crabtot, I always swore I would bring her here at least once to experience the same sort of bare-bones loveliness I did. And, inspired, by that memory I have instituted something in our family: the Crabfamily Annual "No Electricity" Weekend. This concept received a less-than-enthusiastic response from Crabhub, but after our first powerless weekend last year, he has since warmed to the idea, at least tepidly so.
Back to this beach vacation, we had electricity in our house rental, but we also had power cuts (the whole of S. Africa is experiencing this in a serious way), so I got a whiff of my past holidays and enjoyed the blackouts (even as the rest of the country experienced mayhem on account of power problems…but let's face it, Crabmommy is the only one who counts here). So yes, I've had my moments of candlelight in this tiny little spot of perfection far, far away from everything. Naturally all has not been peachy at the beachy, though. Crabtot did a serious spot of whining on arrival at this coastal sliver of heaven. Nothing was quite to her liking. Not the sea. Not the shells. Not the lagoon. Not the rock pools.
She eventually did zip it and started to enjoy herself. Right before leaving. Honestly, this kid is such a crabacious sort! Why is this, I wonder? I just don't know who she gets it from!
Luckily there were delightfully silent moments. They were brief. But they occurred.
Contentment, you are so fleeting, but so sweet nonetheless!
And, new post today at the bloglet, musing on whether we are too kind to our kids:
Many of my friends and fellow moms in the US consider me a tough, strict, perhaps too-old fashioned mom who frequently seeks "mommy time." On the other hand, my mother in South Africa thinks I'm indulgent and over-focused on my child. So which am I?Read it alllll, right here.