Tuesday, February 9, 2010


We have been helping take care of our grandson Benji on a somewhat regular basis since he was born last August. Although it can be a lot of work, it is also a lot of fun. It is cool having a baby around the house. It is also cool seeing how my kids respond to him. Esme stayed with her big sister for nearly 2 months after he was born and so had the first taste of baby care. She said it wasn't hard and is still quite a good auntie to her little nephew.

Josie is the most dedicated baby carer now though. If Benji even makes a peep, she is there to see if he needs anything. She is the one who plays with him when he is tired or grouchy often for inexplicable reasons, being with him until the mood passes or until she can figure out what he wants or needs. No one asks her to do these things; she is just super responsive to him. I think they are forming quite the connection. It is funny because she use to be the one of my kids who would say that they never wanted kids because they were too much work!

Lia has a disadvantage of never having had a younger siblings, but the advantage of being around babies and toddlers on a somewhat regular basis when visiting Damita. She was a natural with Benji right from the start, but at 12 is still a bit too young to have the motherly interest in him that Josie and Es do. She is a good playmate for him, and she has a special connection with Diana and me that makes her especially sensitive to our stresses which leads her to be likely to volunteer to help out when we need a break most, even if it is not the best time for her.

Antonio has been the wild card. When we discussed the possibility of taking care of Benji regularly with the kids, he said, "I don't care, but I'm not good with babies." Well we now have proof that Ant is very good with babies. Matter of fact, Benji has this special look that he gives Ant. Ant says that he looks like him like he is a god! I would describe it as a look of awe. If Benji is in the least fussy, he completely calms and quiets at the site of Ant and just stares at him! Ant is also responsive to Benji helping him when he can (and helping me too of course!) He is even known to hold Benji and take him in his room to play on occasion.

One of the cool things about having a baby in the house for me is that I get to practice unschooling philosophy with him which is something that I didn't do with my own children. (Of course, I had never heard of unschooling, and it certainly wasn't the advice coming out in popular baby care books of the late '80's.) There is a part of me that feels shaky at not controlling Benji more. He doesn't have a schedule! I just follow his lead meeting his needs as best as I can. The truth is that it is a wonderful way to raise a baby, and Benji is for the most part a calm and happy boy with a curious personality and a ton of energy! He seems very secure and willing to go with the flow. I am so happy to have him as a part of my life!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Musing on Books: Lavinia by Ursula LeGuin and The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle

Lavinia is a retelling of Vergil's Aeneid from the point of view of a rather minor character, Lavinia, Vergil's final wife. Although I didn't love the style of the book (it didn't have enough depth to make up for the lack of flow that I prefer in my fictional reading), the strong themes of "who are we as individuals" and "is life a story" made it an enjoyable experience.

I recently read The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle which also has the redeeming value of those two themes (although the books are very different in style and story.) I always find it interesting when themes repeat in books that I read one after the other, especially books that are so very different and are chosen fairly at random by myself to read. I have been pondering a lot lately what makes me who I am, and what makes life what it is.

Last night, I also watched the movie The Last Unicorn. Unfortunately the movie completely leaves out the "who am I" theme, and the "is life a story theme" is so buried as to be almost nonexistent. It was sad to me that the movie was so unfaithful to the purpose of the book.