(Under) exposed – by Justyna

3 Jun

I’ve been thinking hard about what to write regarding this week’s word ‘exposure’. Thoughts occurred writing briefly about the photography course I did in in Year 10 using an old Russian SLR camera belonging to my dad that weighed a tone and donned the name Zenit. I pretty much over exposed all the photos in the dark room and never got a handle on shutter speeds and depth of field. Thank you digital heaven.

Then I started to think about all the things that I do not expose Kazek to. And I realised that I’m a bit of a freaky, fanatic mum, the type that I scorned in my previous life. Shit. When did it all happen? Without me consciously meaning it to become a fundamentalist exercise? I think it’s more of a contrarian thing though anyway. Do the opposite here because everyone else doing it the other way shits me. Or having the privilege of being able to compare two worlds?

So here is a list of things I (we) do not expose Kazek to:

Flavoured yoghurt. Danone is the devil and it has taken over Poland. It has a series of products called Danonki (little Danonies?) that are geared at children, toddlers and infants. Yes. These sugar filled parcels of chemical rubbish are actually propagated as dairy deserts of goodness and mothers are encouraged to feed their 8 month old children with additives and preservatives. The day-care Kaz attended to had Danonki in its standard daily menu. Kaz was not allowed to be fed these. When I read Tabitha’s posts in The City That Never Sleeps In I often see the parallels between Poland and Vietnam. It mainly concerns a society that has been artificially closed off to certain consumer trends and consumer knowledge for decades, and is now hungry and going crazy within an open market yet unable to judge appropriately. Only twenty years ago the children of Poland drank fermented kefir with fresh strawberries. Now a store bought tub of goo is considered more appropriate. Of course I am generalising and there is a strong movement and awareness of decent food in Poland and what is actually being fed to Polish children. But it is sparse and definitely not part of the concern of the majority. Anyway, Kaz is keeping up national dairy traditions by consuming copious amounts of kefir, buttermilk, milk and natural yoghurt. Sometimes he even gets a dollop of honey in it. Polish honey. No imported Chinese rubbish.

Store bought fruit juice. See above (the Danonki juice equivalent is a bottled carrot juice for kids by the name of Kubuś. It has no carrots in it. Or fruit. Lots of fructose though. And every self respecting mother in the park has a bottle of Kubuś tucked into her pram bag). Kazek is a water and milk kid. When my mum or Michal’s mum gives us a delivery of homemade syrups (usually black current from their garden bushes), then he gets a bit of sweet ‘n sour sensation in his drink. Only sometimes. Depending on the season.

Packaged sweets. The little dude actually dislikes chocolate. Poor kid, you’re thinking? Nah. He gets into home-baked goods. Oatmeal cookies with cranberries and blueberry muffins are the go. He’s not a total freak. And this is coming from a me, a person who would chew off your arm for a gummy bear!

Television. Kazek never watched telly for ages. Started watching first bits and pieces after he turned two. There are certain rules with this also. When he does watch telly it must be either in English or with no dialogue (??). And therefore is reserved mainly to the laptop. He watches Play School and Noddy on occasion. Recently he’s been getting into old Czech cartoons from my youth. Krecik (the little mole) and “Pat a Mat” (two useless handyman neighbours who go about fixing stuff – Wallace and Gromit eat your heart out!) are permissible mainly because Michal and I think they kick arse. Clever and slow moving. Thomas the Tank Engine is also allowed. Ringo Starr narration only. Kazek is blissfully unaware of who Mickey Mouse or that annoying red, talking Disney car are.

Shopping. We sort of made a rule of it not to take him to shopping centres etc. Why? Well, I guess we wanted to avoid the “I want, I want” stage for as long as we could. Also because Michal is an avid hater of shopping and I only go if I need to. Kazek is well aware of the local green grocer and the butcher and the bakery, but huge shopping centres are a rarity for him. He was taken to the first toy store in his life just the other week. We were buying a birthday present for his mate Maksio. Kazek was amazed to see so many brum brum cars in the one shop.

The Sun. As in I cover him up even though there is no need for him to be covered up because I no longer live in Australia. Even in the May, Continental sunshine, I will slop on some sun block and slap on a hat. He looks ridiculous amongst children who, after a long winter, are soaking up the vitamin D rays. Michal has pointed this out. Some habits die hard.

However his bare feet are constantly exposed to cold surfaces, he’s exposed to falling off kitchen bench tops and chairs, he’s exposed to being dirty and waddling in puddles, exposed to hitting his head on table tops and shelves and eating large amounts of prunes. He is also exposed to his baby brother, whom he can kiss and cuddle and play with, even though accidental eye pocking can often be a consequence. He is also exposed to a mother who at times is frustrated and tired of being cooped up in a toddler world. Hope the under exposures and over exposures balance out and we don’t produce a freak show of a human. There.

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16 Responses to “(Under) exposed – by Justyna”

  1. michał June 3, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    The best good night reading I’ve had for years! I have one weekness though when it comes to holding to the rules of Kazek upbringing we set up. I just find it really difficult to stand shopkeepers’ disappointed faces after a lolypop Kazek was offered for free in recognition of his nice behaviour in shops is refused and kindly returned! Horror!

    • Tabitha June 4, 2012 at 12:59 am #

      I hope you didn’t read this in bed Michal. That’s not allowed, I recall.

      • Justyna June 4, 2012 at 10:35 am #

        I’m in Debno. Michal is in Krakow. I’m sure he’s reading things on his phone on the crapper too.

  2. Karen June 4, 2012 at 12:30 am #

    Woah, whenever I read these things I get anxious about there being more things I could have overprotected my kids against, and look! There’s another mother out there achieving it! Hahah 🙂 I have never been able to stand up to a well-meaning aunty with a lolly pop, and I regret the amount of time we spend watching TV and in shopping malls. Well done you! I am concerned about Kazek’s vitamin D status though!

    • Tabitha June 4, 2012 at 12:59 am #

      Haha, I KNEW you would say that about the Vitamin D, Karen!

      • Karen June 5, 2012 at 3:48 am #

        And I KNEW you would say…. argh forget it 😉

    • Justyna June 4, 2012 at 10:38 am #

      I seriously don’t know what’s gotten into me. I should be consistent with my not giving a shit too much. I think I probably like controlling a situation I still can, before there is free fall in a couple of years. I also obviously like getting into fruit juice rows with my mother-in-law.

      • Karen June 5, 2012 at 3:46 am #

        Oh I am so with you on the juice and the fruit yogurt, btw. Finn has tasted flavoured yogurt though, and is always on at me about how he ONLY likes it and how we NEVER get it and he wishes sugar was healthy, etc etc 😉

  3. Beth June 4, 2012 at 4:22 am #

    I am with you on so many of those Justyna!

    The dairy companies here are onto the same game of packaging the sweetest shittiest non-yogurt into little squeeze packs and selling them to kiddies with use of cartoon characters at the equivalent of $50/litre. It makes my blood boil, and I have told Leo he’s being manipulated by the marketing, but he has one every time we do the supermarket shopping.

    I had an idea for this week’s parenting post with a list of parental characteristics and some yes/no answers. You’ve given me further inspiration.

    • Justyna June 4, 2012 at 10:42 am #

      You know what though Beth. There’s a saying in Poland “looking for a hole in the fence”. And that’s what I think I may be doing. Looking for things that really aren’t all that problematic but making them out to be just so I can think I am directing my child down a ‘certain’ path?! I’m all for boundaries etc but is he a better person for not knowing who Mickey is at the age of two? Dunno…

      • Beth June 4, 2012 at 10:54 am #

        Yeah, I know what you mean. I don’t let Leo have fruit juice because he’s such a milk drinker I worry his teeth are going to rot from that. But will it actually have an impact?! You just do what makes you able to get up in the morning, right? Parenting is a fucking minefield. This is why I’m going to really think about my next post. It’s too much of a goldmine to not dissect!

      • Beth June 4, 2012 at 10:54 am #

        P.S. The “Juice Wars of 2012”. Love that mental image.

  4. Justyna June 4, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    By the way, did any of you click on the “Pat a(nd) Mat” link?? If you haven’t yet, do it!

    • Beth June 4, 2012 at 10:51 am #

      Love the outfit and the music!!

  5. Tabitha June 5, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    It’s interesting, your comparison of Poland and Vietnam. I know how infuriating it is too. Here, the main goal of child-rearing is to make your child as fat as possible. It seems to be going quite well. At our corner store, you can’t buy any milk that’s not sweetened, and most of it is packaged into poppers for children.

    Out of interest, what’s the breastfeeding situation like in Poland? Is that one case where common sense has overridden consumer misinformation? I just read a statistic that half of all babies born in Hanoi (the most educated, middle class part of Vietnam, so more likely to fall into aspirational consumer traps) never – NEVER – drink breast milk, including in their first hours of life!! They are actively kept away from the breast to suck up formula. And then by ONE MONTH, most babies subsist almost entirely on pre-packaged rice porridge.

    • Justyna June 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

      Boob juice is all the go here. From what I can deduce it always has been. Maternity leave here lasts 6 months, so mothers are encouraged to feed their babies at least up until they go back to work. When I have spoken to friends who have not boob fed their babies, they say there wasn’t too much pressure on them either, so it seems there is a pretty stress free approach either way. Although family members always inquire whether the kid is on the boob or not. Along with EU regulations hospitals in the maternity ward cannot advertise or give out samples of formula. The overall mantra though is boob juice support.

      The Polish Labour Code also has a boob juice statute. Breast feeding mothers are permitted two half hour breaks during work to nurse their babies. It’s obviously logistically impossible, but it does mean you can work an hour less per day to be with your kid. It’s still a statute from the commy past, so proof that boobing was supported even then.

      The infancy stage isn’t the problem. The marketing and misinformation re food steps in when kids are a bit older. When they have teeth and can chew. Also baby food in jars is a relatively new thing, and most mothers raise their kids purely on baby food jars for months on end seeing it as a convenience blessing (which I can understand). It’s encouraged across all fronts since “you don’t know where your potatoes come from, but this baby food jar is certified”. Truth is Poland uses a lot less pesticides in agriculture than the other EU countries and it’s food is considered to be one of the best in Europe because of it’s low industrial approach to farming.

      As far as babies go, a fat baby is a healthy baby here. But a fat toddler is the fault of stupid parents. And it’s not approved of. There are very few fat kids in the country. But when Kaz hits school age I’m sure that will change.

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