Local Heart, Global Soul

December 25, 2011

Christmas is All About a Very Special Birth… The Miracle of Life (and the Distorted Facts)

Filed under: Funny,Kids and Family,LIFE,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today is Christmas Day and millions of people around the world will be celebrating it whatever way suits their style and traditions best.  Of course not all people observe Christmas, but for people of  the Christian faith it is one of the most  important dates in the calendar year.

I’m sure that not just the birth of Jesus, but all impending births and the the miracle of Life have inspired many misconceptions and mirth because of misunderstandings of the events in progress by children.

I remember the story told by my New Zealand Grandmother:  in generations past it was not uncommon for young children to be farmed out to live with other relatives when a new pregancy became really obvious and the children were only brought back once the new arrival had been “delivered” by the “stork”.

Naturally at this time the Facts of Life were a taboo subject and little or no information was given in explaination as to where babies actually came from at any  time in many families.

My Grandma once recounted how one of my uncles asked where his new baby brother had come from and when he was told that they had got him  “from under the cabbages”  he horrified my Grandfather (a very serious veggie gardener) by cutting off a whole row of cabbage heads  because he was “looking for another brother”.

Even sadder was that he got punished for doing so, even when the error had been on the part of the parents and what he had done,  he had done in innocence and childish ignorance.

Luckily these days we are far more enlightened and I have been having “the talk”  with Kiwi Daughter on the “Facts of Life”.

To be honest I had been dreading it, thinking it would be an embarrassing topic to explain, and Yes, when she was four, it was, but mostly that was because it’s so hard to know how to phrase things in a very simple way and four year olds have a habit of asking questions at the most inopportune moment and in a manner that throw you completely off guard.

Now that Kiwi Daughter is ten, and trying to ask intelligent questions, I’ve been surprised about how easy it’s been to just sit and have “little chats”  with her.

A very good  friend of ours is pregnant and this impending event has been the inspiration for some very interesting conversations with our children as they see her tummy grow bigger.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Little Mr’s. reaction: “Does that mean you are having a little kid?” (well we don’t think he means the baby goat variety, but baby human-being sort) so,  “Yes“…

The conversation thereafter flowed simultaneously on two completely different levels, Little Mr having a rather edited version of the facts about babies than Kiwi Daughter who is almost 4 years older.

Kiwi Daughter asks about her own birth (natural) and Little Mr. his, (emergency caesarian section for medical reasons) so he knows that he quite literally came out of Mama’s tummy. He did however think a bit and all of a sudden he asked ” What do they do with the left over  bit of tummy“?

(yep…  you got me there, would have suited me fine if they had taken it away and not just sewed it up).

Kiwi Daughter on the other hand has in recent months had sex education at school and she and I have been having some in-depth discussions at home about all the upcoming changes that puberty will bring.

Most of these little chats stem from questions that she has, where obviously the exact and precise deails were not made clear, or if they were she didn’t  get it.

All of a sudden she started to giggle, and then she confessed that she had been quite shocked when it became apparent in the lesson that whan a lady has a baby, that her big stomach doesn’t instantamously just deflate the second the baby exits.

(After two kids, sigh, I wish)

… the look on her face and the question “Is that really how it is Mama?”  I said Yes, that’s how it really is, the Mama’s tummy slowly stretches and grows as the baby gets bigger, and then after the baby is born it takes time for all the muscles and skin (and a lot of exercise) to get back to the way they were before.

It transpired that Kiwidaughter had visions of the process being as simple as blowing up a balloon and just then letting the air rush out afterwards…

hmmm…  … jet prepolsion birth anyone?

The wonder of a new soul arriving into the world should be a happy event every time and for me each and every new baby is a Mircale of Life… complex, amazing, beautiful, full of promise, potential and hope…

Be it the Christ Child or any child, I hope that we keep true to the values of trust, honesty and faithfulness in all things and that we also learn to look at life though the innocent, delightful, wondrous eyes of a child… and giggle a bit and have fun too.

Whatever you believe (or maybe not, since that is a very personal choice) I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and whatever your day brings, I hope that your day today is spent with someone you love.

Merry Christmas!

May 16, 2011

Not Just the Arrival of the Post…

Filed under: Kids and Family,LIFE,THE NETHERLANDS,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I explained in another post, way back  in March 2010  https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/i-offer-my-deepest-condolences/ that the Dutch have special stamps that are affixed to envelopes when a card notifying a death is sent out.

These cards contain details of the viewings, the funeral and other necessary information, and are given priority by the postal service so they are delivered to the addressee promptly.

Likewise there is a special postage stamp for happier announcements. This one is the stamp that you need when sending out a little card to announce the birth of a child.

In it will be a card of your own making (or there are literally hundreds of designs at local print-shops) and in the months before the birth, you pick the card you want, decide what personal  text you would like to add to it, and it stands there at the printers almost ready to go with the spaces for the babies name, weight,  date of the birth etc. left open until they are known.

After your baby has arrived you simply phone the printer during the next working day to fill in the missing details and a few days after that you can pick up a small box full of your cards  ready to go.

Usually, since you have already made the payment in advance, you will also get the envelopes in advance and so will have already addressed and stamped them all, so after stuffing a card in an envelope you are good to go.

It’s standard that the card contains the home address and phone number of the family, and also advice of the families preferred  “visiting time”  (for example: Between 15:00 – 17:00) because it is expected that you not just drop in whenever you feel like it to visit the new arrival.

Rather you are expected to turn up during  the set designated time to give the new family some privacy, rest and not too much stress  running after a constant stream of visitors.

If there is a “recommended time” given for visiting the new arrival it is considered very bad form to turn up outside these times at least in the  first weeks after the birth, unless the family specifically requests you otherwise.

It’s also usual  that often there will also be an additional little note on the card that states something like “It would be appreciated that you not  phone us between 11:00 – 13:00 because Mother and Baby will be sleeping”

I was very thankful for this system when Kiwi Daughter was born,  we had a few hours per day when we knew the phone should not be ringing and we had a good idea of when to expect our visitors.

Our Kraamzorg  lady was also very good at shoo-ing visitors out the door when they stayed too long, something that can be hard to do yourself when family and friends are enjoying the visit but wearing you out.

This week we were the recipients of  happy news… we knew already via the grapevine that the baby was born but all the finer details are in the card, and the moment we see this stamp in the corner of the envelope we know we are going to open this post with a big smile.

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