May 19, 2010

Babies

Posted in Children, Family, Traditions, Women tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:47 pm by Liliana

Babies

Ponijao (left) and friend

Last week, I went to see the movie Babies with two friends. Babies follows the development of four infants for about a year, from birth until their first words and steps.

The babies inhabit four very different societies: Ponijao is from a village in Namibia; Bayar lives in a yurt (nomadic tent) in Mongolia; Mari resides in a modern high rise in Tokyo; and Hattie lives in San Francisco.

I loved the movie. It also made me sad.

My own three babies had childhoods not unlike Mari and Hattie. They have all grown into happy and well adjusted people. Maybe it is my own sentimentality that gets in the way, when I wish their early years back so that I could do it all over again.

I found aspects of Ponijao’s childhood most comforting. She lives in a communal society with few material belongings. Mostly what we see is women and children of different ages spending time together. The women sit and talk to each other, tell stories, make jewelry out of rope. They grind flower for food with stones. They hold their babies, or hand them over to older children. Babies crawl around on  the dirt floor. They put things in their mouth. They taste, smell, hear, see. They are fed when hungry and reassured when frustrated. Expectations are clear. There is time for everything.

Punjao meets all the milestones that babies in other societies do at a similar rate of development. She (together with Bayar from Mongolia) seems to have gotten there at a more relaxed pace, though.

Mari and Hattie have wonderful childhoods, also. Their fathers are present and involved in their upbringing. But these two girls and their parents are living hectic, distracted lives. With their busy schedules they seem to be trying to recreate in baby classes what Ponijao and Bayar have as a starting point. And even though they live in large, populated cities, their existence seems more isolated and restrained than Bayar’s and Pujao’s. Punjao has her community; Bayar has his animals as companions and the expansive landscape around him is wide open for him to explore.

What do infants need to grow and flourish? Love, time and patience from their parents; response to their needs and concerned company of other beings (both human and animal). These seem to be the ingredients of a happy childhood. Most other activities seem to be a distraction.

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April 15, 2010

RepairClinic.com – Ladies Luncheon

Posted in appliance parts, Children, Family, Food, Friendships, RepairClinic.com, Women, Work tagged , , , , , , , at 7:04 am by Liliana

Sharing food and stories

Sharing food and stories

Once a  month, a number of women from RepairClinic.com go out to lunch together. Every woman in the company is invited, but because of scheduling, availability and other concerns, it is usually about fifteen of us who show up. It is not always the same fifteen, but that makes it part of the fun. One never knows who will come, what course the conversation will take, or what food will be ordered.

Last week we had women from all the different departments at RepairClinic.com: Distribution, Call Center, Purchasing, Development, Accounting and Marketing. Few of us work closely for long periods of time, so this luncheon is a good way to keep in touch, to find out what is going on, to talk about new developments.

We met at a restaurant down the street from RepairClinic. I had called ahead, so we had a large table reserved for us. It was a cold, rainy day, so it felt cozy and pleasant sitting in cheerful company. People ordered quickly – appetizers, salads, pastas, hamburgers. I asked for a steaming cup of coffee.

Veronica told us about her new-born grandson, Jonathan. Her daughter had brought Jonathan to meet us when he was just a week old, and we all wanted to hear about his progress. Lisa had just come back from a trip to Las Vegas and she had stories to tell and pictures to show. There was snow in Las Vegas, which seemed too bad, because the week she was there we actually had warm and sunny weather here in Michigan. Lisa didn’t mind, though, for even with the cold weather it was good to get away.

Someone mentioned the big project some of us are working on and the hours we have been spending in long meetings. We update those who are not involved on the progress made. Diana complains that a number of people in her department have a cold. Then Raina mentions her son, Cody, and we move to discussing children. She tells us about Cody’s escapades, his energy and his ability to fix anything he sets  his mind to. Felicia tells us about her little Sebastian and how he placed all the stickers on just one Easter egg. As we eat and talk, the air is full of laughter and children’s stories.

It doesn’t even take an hour and we are back at work. I feel amiable the whole afternoon – glad to have shared a meal, a bit of time and lots of stories.