Culture Shock at Home

If you visit a different country, especially one in which you are also immersed in a different language, or just attend an immersion program, there are unmistakeable stages to the experience.  The first is the shock of the different culture and/or language.  Often this elicits a negative reaction, a feeling of dislike and homesickness and confusion.  As time progresses and there is more exposure, the feeling shifts to one of understanding, and then to appreciation for the different culture and/or language.

In thinking about this, it struck me that my first experiences of the Mass directly corresponded to these stages.  I suppose that shouldn’t be surprising, for I was raised in a completely different religious culture.  I had never experienced liturgy, for example, and certainly didn’t understand the doctrines and dogmas expressed in the liturgy.  Instead, I only knew the paradigm of Southern Baptist theological ideas, and so experiencing something so different was quite a shock.

Because of this, my first few experiences of Mass, spread out over a number of years, were a shock to my senses and intellect.  I reacted by disliking the Mass and determining that I hated it and therefore needn’t go again or learn more about it.  Since I wasn’t immersed in a foreign culture, I had the freedom to choose to simply not go again, where in the case of going to a different country, that isn’t an option. Consequently, I didn’t allow myself to continue long enough to gain understanding or appreciation – at that time.  Instead, it took being confronted with it again years later and deciding to learn more for me to come to the end of the culture shock stages: appreciation, understanding, and love.  Of course, I am not Catholic solely because I learned to appreciate the Mass, but because I came to believe the Church teachings, which of course are expressed in the liturgy.  I would encourage those who have been to a Mass and disliked it to go again, though.  The missal is a good guide if one feels lost, too. 


Book Nook

I know I’m a day late on this. Oops.

I honestly have no idea where my children found this book, but recently they brought Rabbit’s Gift: a Fable from China, by George Shannon to us to read.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but what I found is a very sweet tale of friends who want to help each other.  Each animal is worried his neighbor might not have found enough food since it’s snowy, and so tries to help out.  In the end, they all celebrate together, sharing the extra food.  My children love the story, and we enjoy reading it to them, too.

Monarch (caterpillar) Watch!

Well, the caterpillars shown before disappeared, and we were sad.  There was a heavier rain one day, and I was afraid they’d be gone afterwards, which is what happened.

Thankfully, though, the Monarch butterflies really love the milkweed my father keeps on the deck, and so soon there were baby caterpillars again.  Determined not to lose more to weather or predators, my father got a terrarium and two glass salt shakers.  The salt shakers he filled with water and put the milkweed branches, with the caterpillars on them, in the water.  My mother grabbed one of these covers which is ironically designed to keep insects out of picnic dishes, instead of keeping them in a terrarium (and keeping the cats out!).  I replace the branches in the evenings usually, and this photo was taken in the afternoon, so they were starting to wilt.  There are two caterpillars, though only one seems to be growing as it should.  Meal times are very exciting, though, since the terrarium is on the dining table.  Kieran especially loves watching them.  Now we just need to find a good library book about them so we can learn even more.

Crafty Thursday

Whew – the end is in sight with this sweater!  Finally!  I’ve been putting it off and putting it off, in part because I just wasn’t sure I really liked how it was turning out.  So yesterday, bored with my other project (shown below), I decided to run some waste yarn through the stitches and try it on, knowing it wouldn’t quite fit over my pregnant belly, to get a better idea of how it looks.  Well, I liked it, and I also realised that I only needed to do two more pattern repeats before the garter hem.  I’m now about halfway through the first pattern repeat, since I’ve been out of the house a bit today and haven’t been able to knit as much.  Once I finish the body of the sweater, I just need to bind off the stitches for the sleeves, as I also discovered that I like them the length they are when I tried it on.  Then I’ll need to pick up the stitches to finish the neck, but that won’t take too long.  Then it’ll be finished!

From Your Knitting Life

The other project?  A robot backpack.  Kieran’s been wanting a backpack, and I decided a backpack filled with books and/or small toys would be a good birthday present.  I did a search on Ravelry out of curiosity and found this cute robot backpack.  At first I thought it was an online pattern, and then I was temporarily discouraged when I learnt that it wasn’t.  I say temporarily because when I mentioned to my mother that it was in print, not online, she asked which magazine it’s in and it turns out that she has it!  Crisis averted.  I’m making the one shown as blue, but Kieran chose a green yarn for it, so it’ll be bright green.  So far I’ve completed the front and back, shown in the photo, and am working on one of the side pieces.  Since it’s just stockinette, I get bored, thus why I needed the break.

Mixed Messages

When it comes to breastfeeding, there are many mixed messages given by society as a whole, and even by doctors. Some examples:

-Breastfeed, but oh one bottle of formula won’t hurt! (instead of giving actual support and information)
-Breastfeed, but you aren’t going to do that here, are you?! Go in another room or cover up! Better yet, give a bottle in public!
-Breastfeed, but aren’t you going to stop now?! The child has teeth/can talk/is too old for it now! (this can be said at any arbitrary age)
-Breastfeeding is best for babe, but don’t breastfeed past some arbitrary age because then the milk is somehow magically diminished and surely the mum is just doing it for herself by then.

With all the mixed messages out there, is it any wonder breastfeeding rates are so abysmal? Many women say they want to breastfeed and even start out breastfeeding, but is it so shocking when they stop before they planned, either from lack of support, misinformation, or societal pressure? There is no one solution to this, though the UNICEF Baby-Friendly initiative can surely help, if more hospitals adopt it.  Seeing women openly, unashamedly breastfeed in public can slowly help to change societal perceptions.  Since learning to breastfeed is greatly helped by seeing other women breastfeed, this would also help women overcome misconceptions or just realise that it can be done. Educating medical professionals will also go a long way towards changing breastfeeding rates for the better, since some mums end up stopping after being given poor advice from nurses or doctors. Perhaps another thing is for all of us to examine our preconceptions so we aren’t the ones undermining mothers.

Book Nook: Poetry Edition

Yes, poetry. While we usually stick with prose when reading to our children, every now and then I like to read poetry to them. I find that they enjoy the rhythm, even if the storyline isn’t readily apparent to them.  When Kieran was quite small, I read various Shakespeare and Coleridge to him, in fact.

More recently, I decided to read Poe’s “The Raven” to Charlotte. She loved it and even asked me to read “the chamber door” to her for a few days after I initially read it.  Far from being inaccessible, poetry can be quite a hit with children, with the alliteration and rhythm and imagery.  If you’ve not read any poems to your child, why not start?