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.