‘Twas 3 Days After Christmas

‘Twas 3 days after Christmas

when all through the land,

not a kid was in sight.

No fussing, no arguing,

there was not a single fight.

Where could they all be?

I looked out my window

the streets are  deserted.

I looked here, there,

I looked everywhere

and I grew disconcerted.

There they are!

Didn’t have to look far.

They all have their eyes,

glued to their Kindles-

their hands on their iPads.

They no longer wonder.

They no longer ponder.

Little ones, of all ages and sizes

too early to be  wired,

6,8,10 12 year olds,

young minds now in a quagmire.

So I looked in the past,

when kids did kid things-

they played cow boys and Indians

and the sunsets seemed to last.

They played hide and go seek

some even thought they had wings.

Some jumped rope and hopscotched 

and they made up their own nursery rhymes.

They had imagination,

because it was encouraged.

They had less information

thus, they weren’t so discouraged.

This is a plea for the parents

of this current generation

now being nurtured,

on their iPhones, iPads,

Kindles, Androids, and iPods:

Our kids need US!

Our kids don’t need anymore APPS.

There isn’t an APP to replace

a hug, a kiss and a smile.

There isn’t an APP to replace,

time well spent with your child.

-EVA SANTIAGO Copyright 2011

Perfect = BORING!

I enjoyed the following video so much I had to share it with you today. It is so important to embrace our kids for the person that God made them. I have 4 kids and each one is  distinct . That means when it came down to disciplining them when they were younger, I had to take that fact into account and deal with each one of them differently.

I often tell my kids that I don’t have a favorite because choosing a favorite child leads to all kinds of discord in any family. What I tell them is that I love each one of them differently- according to each unique personality. I love how God can put 6 completely different personalities each with their own unique temperaments in one single home and bond them together for life. Hug each one of your kids today and let them know that you value them for their uniqueness! Celebrate the diversity in your family this holiday season and throughout the rest of the year.

Do “the clothes REALLY makes the man?” Let’s explore this with our knowledge of HEBREW…

The word for clothing in HEBRW is ◊Ď◊í◊ď/BEH-GED and it comes from the word ◊ú◊Ď◊í◊ď/LIV-GOAD, which means “to betray.” Our choice of clothing and the way we dress can expresses our inner self. If we dress solely by the latest fashion and what’s “in”, our clothing is betraying our own essence, and we are not allowing our body to freely express itself. The appropriate clothing, however, can bring out our beauty and inner glow, and really make us who we are!

KESHER/◊ß◊©◊® is the word for “knot” in HEBREW. It is also the word for “bond” or “connection.” If one merits to have a special and truly deep relationship with someone in their lives, it is as if they are tied together in a knot, inseparable and totally intertwined. They can become so close that they are like one unit. Amazing!

Parents DO Know Best!

I saw this article today and I had to share it on my blog . When my 17-year-old daughter was born, I received some of the wackiest advice from some well-meaning people. I had to ignore most of it though and go with my gut instinct. I even had my uncle who is a doctor, give me a wall clock so that I could put my new-born on a nursing schedule right away. Because he said, “You let that baby know who is in charge right away or she’ll ruin your life.” WOW! How could my baby, my flesh and blood ruin my life?¬†

So I defied all ¬†the advice that came from others and I listened to my ¬†instinct. This article about letting babies cry themselves into calm is fantastic. Back then I was 24 when I first had her. ¬†People would tell me to just let her cry and I’d think, ‘ Ok, adults can self soothe but a baby can’t because they NEED someone there to help them LEARN to calm themselves.’ It was THAT apparent to me. So I asked my husband one day if he thought it right to let a baby cry and cry until they “get over it”. His response was simple,” When you’re upset and you come to me and ask me to comfort you, what would happen if I ignored you or told you to get over it? You’d be more upset right?” Bingo! So I never listened to anyone’s comments, I followed my instinct and soon I realized moms and dads DO know best when it comes to their kids!

by Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D.

Dangers of ‚ÄúCrying It Out‚ÄĚ

Damaging children and their relationships for the longterm.
Published on December 11, 2011 by Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D. in Moral Landscapes

Letting babies “cry it out” is an idea that has been around since at least the 1880s when the field of medicine was in a hullaballoo about germs and transmitting infection and so took to the notion that babies should rarely be touched (see¬†Blum, 2002, for a great review of this time period and attitudes towards childrearing).

In the 20th¬†century, behaviorist John Watson, interested in making psychology a hard science, took up the crusade against affection as president of the American Psychological Association. He applied the mechanistic paradigm of behaviorism to child rearing, warning about the dangers of too much mother love. The 20th¬†century was the time when “men of science” were assumed to know better than mothers, grandmothers and families about how to raise a child. Too much kindness to a baby would result in a whiney, dependent, failed human being.¬†Funny how “the experts” got away with this with no evidence to back it up!¬†Instead there is evidence all around (then and now) showing the opposite to be true.

¬†A¬†governmet¬†pamphlet from the time recommended that “mothering meant holding the baby quietly, in tranquility-inducing positions” and that “the mother should stop immediately if her arms feel tired” because “the baby is never to inconvenience the adult.”¬† Babies older than six months “should be taught to sit silently in the crib; otherwise, he might need to be constantly watched and entertained by the mother, a serious waste of time.” (See Blum, 2002.)

Don’t these attitudes sound familiar? A¬†parent¬†reported to me recently that he was encouraged to let his baby cry herself to¬†sleep¬†so he “could get his life back.”¬†

With¬†neuroscience, we can confirm what our ancestors took for granted—that¬†letting babies cry is a practice that damages children and their relational capacities in many ways for the long term. We know now that letting babies cry is a good way to make a less intelligent, less healthy but more anxious, uncooperative and alienated person who can pass the same or worse traits on to the next generation.¬†

The discredited behaviorist view sees the baby as an interloper into the life of the parents, an intrusion who must be controlled by various means so the adults can live their lives without too much bother. Perhaps we can excuse this attitude and ignorance because at the time, extended families were being broken up and new parents had to figure out how to deal with babies on their own, an unnatural condition for humanity–we have heretofore raised children in extended families. The parents always shared care with multiple adult relatives.

According to a behaviorist view completely ignorant of human development, the child ‘has to be taught to be independent.’ We can confirm now that forcing “independence” on a baby leads to greater dependence. Instead,¬†giving babies what they need leads to greater independence later. In anthropological reports of small-band hunter-gatherers, parents took care of every need of babies and young children. Toddlers felt confident enough (and so did their parents) to walk into the bush on their own (see¬†Hunter-Gatherer Childhoods, edited by Hewlett & Lamb, 2005).

Ignorant behaviorists then and now encourage parents to condition the baby to expect needs NOT to be met on demand, whether feeding or comforting. ¬†It’s assumed that the adults should ‘be in charge’ of the relationship. ¬†Certainly this might foster a child that doesn’t ask for as much help and attention (withdrawing into depression and going into stasis or even wasting away) but it is more likely to foster a whiney, unhappy, aggressive and/or demanding child, one who has learned that one must scream to get needs met. A deep sense of insecurity is likely to stay with them the rest of life.

The fact is that caregivers who habitually respond to the needs of the baby before the baby gets distressed, preventing crying, are more likely to have children who are independent than the opposite¬†(Stein & Newcomb, 1994). Soothing care is best from the outset. Once patterns get established, it’s much harder to change them.

We should understand the mother and child as a mutually responsive dyad. They are a symbiotic unit that make each other healthier and happier in mutual responsiveness. This expands to other caregivers too.

One strangely popular notion still around today is to let babies ‘cry it out’¬†when they are left alone, isolated in cribs or other devices. ¬†This comes from a misunderstanding of child and brain development.

  • Babies grow from being held. Their bodies get dysregulated when they are physically separated from caregivers. (See¬†here¬†for more.)
  • Babies indicate a need through gesture and eventually, if necessary, through crying. Just as adults reach for liquid when thirsty, children search for what they need in the moment. Just as adults become calm once the need is met, so do babies.
  • There are many longterm effects of undercare or need-neglect in babies (Dawson et al., 2000).

What does ‘crying it out’ actually do to the baby and to the dyad?

Neurons die.¬†When the baby is stressed, the toxic hormone cortisol is released. It’s a neuron killer. A full-term baby (40-42 weeks), with only 25% of its brain developed, is undergoing rapid brain growth. The brain grows on average three times as large by the end of the first year (and head size growth in the first year is a sign of¬†intelligence, Gale et al., 2006). Who knows what neurons are not being connected or being wiped out during times of extreme¬†stress? What deficits might show up years later from such regular distressful experience?

Disordered stress reactivity can be established as a pattern for life not only in the brain with the stress response system, but also in the body through the vagus nerve, a nerve that affects functioning in multiple systems (e.g., digestion). For example, prolonged distress in early life, resulting in a poorly functioning vagus nerve, is related disorders as irritable bowel syndrome (Stam et al, 1997). See more about how early stress is toxic for lifelong health from the recent Harvard report, The Foundations of Lifelong Health are Built in Early Childhood).

Self-regulation¬†is undermined.¬†The baby is absolutely dependent on caregivers for learning how to self-regulate. Responsive care—meeting the baby’s needs before he gets distressed—tunes the body and brain up for calmness. When a baby gets scared and a parent holds and comforts him, the baby builds expectations for soothing, which get integrated into the ability to self comfort. Babies don’t self-comfort in isolation. If they are left to cry alone, they learn to shut down in face of extensive distress-stop growing, stop feeling, stop trusting (Henry & Wang, 1998).

Trust is undermined.¬†As¬†Erik Erikson¬†pointed out, the first year of life is a sensitive period for establishing a sense of trust in the world, the world of¬†caregiver¬†and the world of self.¬† When a baby’s needs are met without distress, the child learns that the world is a trustworthy place, that relationships are supportive, and that the self is a positive entity that can get its needs met. When a baby’s needs are dismissed or ignored, the child develops a sense of mistrust of relationships and the world. And self-confidence is undermined. The child may spend a lifetime trying to fill the inner emptiness.

Caregiver sensitivity may be harmed.¬†A caregiver who learns to ignore baby crying, will likely learn to ignore the more subtle signaling of the child’s needs. Second-guessing intuitions to stop child distress, the adult practices and increasingly learns to “harden the heart.” The reciprocity between caregiver and babu is broken by the adult, but cannot be repaired by the young child. The baby is helpless.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201112/dangers-crying-it-out

30 Day Blog Challenge:Day 30

Whew! I am finished with this 30 day challenge; this was a nice little journey I took and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my posts. I had to look hard through my copy of THE MOM AND DAD CONVERSATION PIECE ¬†by Bret Nicholaus and Paul Lowrie, in order¬†to find my last question. So without much further ado, I bid you adieu on this challenge!

Day 30 Question 30:When you were a very young child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When you were in high school, what did you think you would be doing for a living someday?

Answer: From the time I learned about words, I gravitated towards writing when I first began  school. I also loved to draw so I was never without paper and pencil. My favorite subject in school was always the language arts; I quickly fell in love with reading and I read everything I put my hands on. Back then my favorite TV show was THE LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. So I  wrote a story based on the characters, and I set them in present time. All through middle school and high school I wrote all the time. In the 10th grade, a friend of mine had a big crush on this guy and she loved my poetry. She had me write her crush several poems which she gave to him. Writing was my friend because I was a pretty lonely kid and I trusted my journal to keep all of my secrets. I could envision myself being a writer when I was very young.

In high school I discovered the seamstress in me. When I was younger and my Abuelita lived with us, I would never tire of watching her sew.  When I found out I could take Fashion Design , I was in! I loved making a new outfit and getting compliments on it at school. One time I made a dress for my aunt which she actually wore often; I realized that was her way of showing me she approved my work. I also made a couple of outfits and I was able to model them myself in the yearly Fashion Show. That fueled my desire to stick to fashion and pretty soon, I pictured my self owning my own designer boutique.

I went to college to learn fashion design. Once in the program though, I saw it was more of a challenge than I had previously imagined. Some of that passion I’d felt for fashion before began to wane. Then in my last year of college I enrolled in a fashion journalism course and I fell in love with writing all over again. I knew then for sure, that writing and I would never part ways again.

When I self published my first book, ¬†a couple of years ago, I knew I would always pursue this dream of mine to the end of my days. This year I¬†submitted my 2nd manuscript to a major publisher and it was accepted right away. Mind you, I had plans to self publish again, but thanks to my 2nd daughter who kept telling me to submit it, I’m so glad I did! You see, I was terrified of the possibility of receiving a letter of rejection and my daughter would say,” So? If you do, keep trying .”

I am thrilled to announce that my second book, a volume of poems, short stories and prose will be published next ¬†year! I look forward to sharing it with you! I ‘ll leave you with a quote from yours truly: ” I’m gonna keep writing¬†’til they have to pry my pen from my cold hand!” – Eva

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 29

I’m down to the wire here friends! This 30 day blog challenge has taken me through a fun stroll down memory lane. I hope as you’ve read some of my posts, that maybe this could help get your own conversation started about your own unique memories.

Day 29 Question 29: What particular Christmas memory do you remember most fondly?

Answer: I’m posting another excerpt from my book AS CLEAR AS CLAIRE GETS as my answer for today:

That Christmas Eve something amazing happened; we were watching TV while Tio worked a double shift in the ER.¬†The whole night was dragging on because this was very different from the festive holidays we were all used to. In past years, the house was always filled with guests, now it was just the four of us. I was not interested in the TV at all, I would glance up at the cuckoo clock hanging by the banister, and it stood still it seemed. Suddenly at midnight when the cuckoo came out to announce the hour, the doorbell rang. I sprang up from the couch and I ran as fast as I could to see who might be at the door at this late hour. Once I opened the door, Tio was standing there smiling with a box of Dunkin’ Donuts ¬†in his hands. I threw my arms around him because I was so glad to see him and he hugged me back tenderly. Suddenly he realized what he was doing as he stiffened up quickly and the moment vanished but not from my heart.

As he settled in, he explained to all of us that he had managed to get another doctor to cover his shift so he could come be with us. This was an isolated incident where he had been affectionate with me and it still makes me smile today. It told me back then and even now that somewhere in that stony heart of his, there is a place for me. Tiny though it may seem, that place is there because he let me see it for a second.

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 28

Day 28 Question 28: What do you remember most about your first Christmas as a mom or dad?

Answer: Looking back now that we have 4 kids and our oldest is 17, I had to really pause and think on this question. ¬†At that time I chose to be a full time stay at home mom and our finances were cut in half. When Christmas came around all I cared about was that I had a family of my own. We put up a tree and decorated our home as usual. My husband kept apologizing because he felt bad since he couldn’t buy us ¬†any presents. I really didn’t care, I had a 4 month old baby girl in my arms and that’s all that mattered.

God sends people to bless us and when He does, we can’t act¬†foolish or proud and not receive their blessing. Did you know that when someone is trying to bless you and you refuse them; ¬†you are robbing that person of their blessing? I learned about that in those days. Sometimes you have to humble yourself and receive.

That same year we had some friends who were struggling financially too. They had a baby girl who was a few months older than mine and 2 older boys. When Martin called my husband a couple of days before Christmas and told him they had no food we  moved to help. I looked in my pantry and fridge and thanked God that they were full.

My husband had a collection of vinyl records back then. It was his dream to open a store and he had amassed enough to do so. Whenever we were short on cash, he would sell his records to tie us over until his next pay check. He took some records and sold them. When he returned he was so happy because he was able to give some of his earning to our friends in need. When we showed up at their home with a check in hand, our friends were so happy. That made OUR Christmas.

On Christmas Day we went to church. Our friends Jan & Alan were asking us about our Christmas. ¬†We both joked that we were so broke, we had passed on giving ourselves any presents this year. Then My husband shared about how we had helped our other friends the day before. After church we were driving away and Jan & Alan were right behind us. They motioned us to pull over and we did. Jan told me to open my hand and when I did, she pressed a fresh new $100 bill into my gloved hand and wished us both a Merry Christmas. Before I could even say thanks, they had sped away. I cried that morning and I think I saw a couple of tears on my husband’s face too. Ok, I just had to stop and wipe my eyes just now too :,)

When you are good to others, God never overlooks it. When you give out of the little ¬†that you have, it makes God smile. God’s goodness never gets old. I would love to hear some of your stories, so please feel free to comment and share. I hope you are enjoying this season!

Great Credentials Do Not a Great Teacher Make

This blog is a follow-up to the one I posted yesterday:https://evasantiago.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/noah-webster-defines-education/

NOTE to all of my GREAT teacher friends: This EXCLUDES YOU! So if the shoe doesn’t fit, please don’t wear it :)

I have observed this particular phenomenon for a while now. My youngest daughter attends a dance studio here in town. She’s been taking ¬†dance classes for 5 years now and we’ve changed studios twice. I see in today’s topic ¬†a disturbing trend and one that not too many people want to discuss. Did you know that as teachers we have the potential to mentor our students? Let me define the word mentor-

MENTO’RIAL, a. [from Mentor,the friend and adviser of Ulysses.]

Containing advice or admonition.

Mentoring

When I went to school there were a few teachers that I still remember well. They were not only interested in doing their job to impart knowledge to me. They went a step further and  mentored me. Yes, I understand that in the large classroom sizes of today, that is difficult.  Back then, our class size  ranged around 25 kids per teacher, and some of these fine teachers I had took the extra time with me .

The one characteristic that stands out the most of my teachers that I remember with great affection is that they were there to set the right example for me. So naturally I was under the notion that a good teacher can be a great role model. And ¬†I see this quality lacking in a lot of the teachers at my daughter’s dance studio.

The students are required to adhere by a strict dress code and yet the dance instructors shows up in whatever they felt like wearing to class that day. Many times I’ve wondered if they even ran a comb through their hair before they left the house. Why bother with the dress code then? That was what all 3 of my daughters asked me when they were all taking classes. I could hear the frustration in their voices and I saw how the teacher not following her own rules demoralizes her students.

Another great quality that all of my favorite teachers possessed was that they respected me not only as their student but also as a human being. They never talked down to me or made me feel less than the child I was. ¬†I have lost track of the times my girls have come home from a dance class, completely discouraged because of a callous tongue, icy disposition¬†or indifferent attitude from their dance instructor. When I addressed this issue with the owner of the studio, she just blew it off and assured me that my girls needed to “toughen up” because this is how it goes in the the dance world!

I laughed at that because my girls are pretty tough cookies already who can hold their own. The owner proceeded¬† to tell me about the credentials of the teachers there and that they were “lucky” to be trained by ¬†professionals with such clout. Really?

So it’s acceptable to be a nasty teacher with a mean temper just because you trained at Julliard and danced with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater? I was far from impressed and I let her know it. Folks, how can teachers demand respect from their students when they are not setting the right examples for them to follow. Children look to their superiors for guidance and if non is offered they turn a deaf ear.

Teaching is not just another job you ¬†show up to ¬†so you can collect your paycheck . If you don’t care a hill of pinto beans about children, if children repulse you and if you have zero tolerance for them, then perhaps you need to find your true calling. Teaching is a higher calling like that of being a parent; that’s why it’s so undervalued and under paid.

This post is dedicated to all the wonderful teachers I had throughout my school years:

Sister Margaret- St. Francis School- 1st grade

Ms. Mary  Ellen McClellan- St. Francis School-3rd Grade

Ms. Molly Gillard-St. John’s- 6th Grade

Mrs. Carol Kane-Bitburg American Middle School (BAMS)-6th Grade

Mrs. Reece- BAMS-7thGrade

Mr. James- BAMS- 8th Grade

Mrs. Betty Meyers-BAMS- 8th Grade

Mr. Griffin– Marshall High School10th Grade

Ms. Andermatt- Marshall High School-11th Grade

Mr. Walter Collis- Marshall High School- 11th,12th Grades

Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication! I never forgot how much you cared.