So This Happened

So I realized I haven’t put up a new post in about three months. There’s really no good excuse for this, other than the fact that I had a baby two months ago. Baby S arrived in the world a couple of days late, with a head full of what promises to be very curly hair. So far, she’s been a champ eater, sleeper, and pooper…what else could you possibly ask for?

In the past couple of months, I have become quite prolific on Twitter, probably because my thought process doesn’t go beyond 140 characters these days.

It was first on Twitter that I started writing some observations about being a parent of two children.

I want to compile them here in one easy list that will surely grow as the years go by. I’m sure these thoughts and observations are in no way, shape, or form original or earth shattering. But they’re mine and this is my blog, so I get to write them.

1. After having a second child, I realized that we had no idea what we were doing the first time around. From the 20 wipe diaper change to every freak out concerning a rash… Goodness we were completely clueless.

2. There really is such a thing as forgetting to eat. I always thought it was a dainty person’s way of saying that they were dieting. Alas, no.

3. I’ve already been disabused of the notion that second children are a lot mellower than first children. But I still can’t help feeling that it is true in some way. Things that S does that P just did not do very well: eat, sleep, be chill.

4. Before having a second child, I was somewhat worried that the amount of love that I would feel would be somehow less than for a firstborn. Man, was I wrong.

5. Once human cloning is an actual option, mothers of multiple children will be first in line for that technology. All of a sudden I am needed everywhere at once. I foresee this being the case for the next 18 years.

6. My oh my how do people handle more than two kids in a household?

Anyway, so far these are the only observations I can think of. If you have any nuggets of wisdom, please feel free to share in the comments section.

The Bet

A’s best friend, Ettore, became the proud papa’ of a girl today. Aida was born in Venice, Italy, and although I don’t have any information other than a text announcing her entrance into the world, I’m sure she is a breathtaking little free spirit. How else would you describe the offspring of a freelance photographer and a belly dancer?

Now, about A and Ettore. They’ve been best friends since they were born exactly four months apart in the same hospital. Ettore was born on April 20, 1974, and A came along on August 20 of the same year.

Their connection is almost cosmic. In kindergarten, if one went to school and saw the other one was home sick, he would run back home. It was no use being in school if your other half was at home.

In fifth grade, their teacher called a parent-teacher conference, saying the two boys’ connection was “unnatural” and that they should be separated. (Way to go, small-town Italy, for marking two little BFFs as potential gays.) A’s mom told the teacher that there was no way those two boys would be separated. Go mama.

Ettore was the reason A and I met fifteen years ago. I was living in the same apartment with Ettore in Venice, when A and five other friends from their hometown came to visit for Carnival. A and I met, and the rest is, well, us.

They do crazy things for one another. During one visit to Italy, we barely got to see Ettore and his wife, Camilla. Leaving to come back to California, we had a crazy early morning flight, and had just gone through security at around 5am when A heard Ettore calling him from behind the security line. He’d gotten up at the crack of dawn to come have a last coffee with us and say goodbye.

When we moved to the U.S., I think leaving Ettore was more difficult for A than anything else.

So the news that Ettore had joined the joyful tribe of fathers left A a little giddy today. At dinner, he said, “Just watch. Our little one will be born on April 28.”

Me: “Huh?”

A: “April 28. You’ll see. The two girls will be separated by exactly two months, like Ettore and I were separated by four.”

Without thinking, I said, “If she’s born on April 28, we’ll move back to Italy. Because at that point, you and Ettore really are meant to be together.”

Honestly, if it happens, it means their connection is truly cosmic.

Here’s to you, Aida. Let’s see if your little American counterpart is exactly two months behind.

The Trilingual Advantage?

I just love randomly getting in touch with famous people (OK, semi-famous…and only in the nerd-o-sphere) and having them respond. Yesterday, there was a Q and A in the New York Times with a certain Professor Ellen Bialystok, who does research on the brain and how it reacts to bilingualism. In short, she was saying that research has shown that the use of two languages in everyday life has a bevy of advantages in young and old, including prolonged functionality at the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Of course, the natch question for an Iranian-Italian family with a young child living in the US of A is whether exposure to three languages is a good thing…or whether the said young child will just grow up with a jumble of sounds in her head. So what’s a girl to do? Write the expert and ask, mais oui!

After very little sleuthing on the net, I found Prof. Bialystok’s email address, and I wrote her the following message:

 Dear Prof. Bialystok,

I’m sure you will be getting a flood of emails after the recent Q and A featured in the NY Times. Hopefully mine won’t get lost in the crowd!

I’m curious as to whether you have encountered any trilingual cases in your research. I’ll explain: I’m a first generation Iranian who married an Italian native. We currently live in the U.S. and are obviously surrounded by all-things English, so our daughter (1.5 years old) is exposed to all three languages. My parents look after her during the week and speak to her in Farsi (although my mother resists because she things P will get confused) and my husband and I speak to her in Italian. We figure that she gets enough English through exposure in things like kids’ classes and such.

What is amazing to me is that Penelope is picking up all three languages simultaneously. When she’s hungry, she says, “Apple! Acqua! Naan!” She’s pretty much covering all her bases! She seems to pick up the easiest word for things in every language, with the exception of “farfalla” (butterfly), which she just likes saying over and over again.

Anyway, I don’t mean this to be a gushing review of her language skills, but I’m just wondering if you’ve encountered the same type of thing elsewhere. And mostly I’m wondering if we should continue down this road and expose her to all three languages.

Thanks for reading!

To my utter shock, she responded a day later. Here’s what she wrote:

Your description of P’s language is exactly right for a child growing up in a rich linguistic environment. You must continue to provide her this incredible opportunity and savour her journey through these wonderful languages. Tell your mother to stop worrying and speak to her in Farsi. Some day P will thank her.

With best regards,
Ellen Bialystok

How cool is that? It’s been my experience that college professors are very nice about responding to emails from random people (my other random email led to a week-long, all-expenses trip to Italy as part of an earthquake reconnaissance team) – so here’s a bit of (unsolicited) advice. Write people. Ask them things. They’re just people, and they might find what you’re saying actually interesting. And maybe even respond.

Kickin' it in the sun…

sun-sky-lg

So I noticed something (well, I should say that A. pointed it out): our little tyke seems to kick way more when I’m somewhere sunny. The kid’s got some SoCal blood in her, it seems! Our neighborhood in SF is not known to be one of the sunnier ones in the City, but when I work in Berkeley, she kicks like crazy. And when we were visiting my parents in SoCal, she was going wild! We might have to move at some point to sunnier climes…

Kicking!

Today was the first day that I felt extensive kicking and movement…we might have a little gymnast on our hands! Apparently, I will be feeling the movement intermittently for a few weeks, at which point the movement will start to be constant. Can’t wait!