On Criticizing How Others Do Parenting


Since having children, I have felt under scrutiny when I am in public places. Are my kids screaming too loud? Running too fast? Venturing too far? Is it OK that my child is laying on the restaurant floor and singing jingle bells at the top of his lungs? What are people going to think if he grabs that cheerio off the floor at the grocery store and puts it in his mouse…? (Darn! HE DID!)

You get the scenario, don’t you? I understand and agree with having children behave like decent human beings in public places. Nobody wants a monster vandalizing all spaces, but I also feel that people have no tolerance when the line of acceptable behavior is crossed.

Now, remember, this line depends on the individual. We know screaming, tantrums and crying are on the list of children’s behaviors that nobody likes, but it can be difficult to anticipate what are the small things that others will disapprove of, and believe me, they DO disapprove, and they WILL let you know.

Cut to a couple of experiences that had happened to me in the last 6 months:

Around the Holidays, I was in Target buying presents when Max asked to be taken down from the cart. He wanted to walk… A-L-A-R-M!! A 2 years old walking aimlessly around Target is NOT fun. There are things to be grabbed, hallways to run through, and toys to play with.  I put him down anywa, and tried to manage him with firm commands. He was actually pretty good, until he walked 15 feet away from me to look at some toy. An older woman walked by and asked him where his mommy was. I said: “I am here.” She looked at me with disapproving eyes while she shook her head in discontent. I am guessing I was too far away from my child for her comfort? I was surprised at such judgmental behavior, especially because I could have never imagined I was doing something wrong in the first place.

The exact same thing happened at the airport going to Costa Rica. My husband was no more than 10 feet away from Max when another family went by him and freaked out because his parents weren’t around. George immediately told them he was the dad, and they walked away saying: “I guess that is how people do parenting nowadays.” I was in shock once again.

These two events were heartbreaking for me. Not only because I was under attack, but also because they touched into my deepest fear of being a bad parent.

I think it is beautiful when strangers have a genuine concern for children’s safety. In my short motherhood road, I have found beautiful support and love from others, especially women. I have always thought of child raising as a community endeavor, instead of the individual task it has become, but it makes me angry and sad when this concern is accompanied by a stranger’s criticism that, without any background information, jumps so easily to condemn how others do parenting.

I am sure that there are situations where true child neglect is happening and an intervention is needed, but I don’t think it is helpful for anybody to hurt those you don’t know by publicly shaming their parenting skills, is it?

Anybody out there agrees? Or, disagrees? Would love to her.

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How Many Kids Is Enough?

jestcafe.com--how-many-kids-is-enoughGeorge and I are in the process of deciding if to have another child or leave our number at 2. We come from big families. I have 6 siblings. George has 4.

Right now, I feel very comfortable and happy with 2. They are healthy, sweet, cute, and relatively smart (he). I feel I can take care of them and myself. I can make sure they get what they need, while I am able to do the things I want. This comfortable place makes me worry about having another one.

I am not a fearful person, but I am afraid of having another kid. Here are the reasons why:

1)  I am afraid of not being able to handle it; to loose my personal time and myself; and, to leave my projects and dreams behind. All these are selfish fears, but they are real.

2) In a practical sense, I am afraid of that first sleepless year, and meeting the demands of my other children and husband. I am afraid of being overwhelmed. I have no family help here. My family is in Chile, George’s family is scattered, and I have to pay for all childcare. We are raising these children alone.

3) Money is another consideration. Right now, we have a comfortable life and are able to do the things we want. We live in LA, faraway from our families, and the only reason to justify this placement is because LA is an extraordinary city. We always try to take good advantage of it, but this costs money. If we have a third child, some of these benefits won’t be affordable anymore.

The reasons to have another child are simpler. I love being a mother, more than anything else in my life. My hormones are wonderful companions that first year and they make me very happy – I am lucky. Also, I love big families; I like being pregnant; and, I adore having a small, helpless, and sweet newborn in my arms. Kids are such a fun adventure.

In these big life decisions, I try to ask the opinion of older women, but I have had conflicted responses. Most of them have recommended on having another child, but my mom, who has 5 kids, says I should stay with 2.

George really wants another kid. He loves being a dad and gets most of his life enjoyment from being a parent, and, I certainly don’t want to disappoint him. He will be heartbroken if I say no to another baby. On the other hand, as helpful as your husband is, most of the burden of a newborn is on the woman.

There are so many things to consider, so I was wondering what your opinion is on this? How many kids do you want to have? Have you ever regretted not having more kids? Have you ever regretted having too many? How do you know if you can handle one more? Just curious.

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Olvera Street


LA has many neighborhoods that make you feel like you are in a different country when you visit them. One of them is Olvera Street.

Before the Holidays, we took our kids here to immerse ourselves into some Latin flavor, and to get the children out of the house, because having your kids inside a 900 sq. feet dwelling all day can be a nightmare, literally.

Ideally, you will take the train to Union Station to get to Olvera Street, but, for us, the train is not the most convenient way of transportation because it takes so long, more than 45 minutes.

We went on a Saturday for the Virgen Guadalupe Celebration. There was dancing and a vigil, but the most fun part of going to Olvera Street is just walking around and having dinner in one of the many restaurants. The Street has old houses and tries to recreate a romantic idea of “Old Los Angeles”.

It also has a one-block market of  handcrafted items vendors that have been there for generations. Our children loved all the little shops and wanted to get into everything. There were so many colors and noises to spark their imagination, so it was very fun for them.

After walking around and buying some children’s guitars for $10, we had dinner at one of the restaurants. There are plenty of places to choose from. We ordered some guacamole, a couple of beers, some burritos, and we were set.

After a two-hour outing, we were ready to go back home, and felt very happy to have had this little adventure. Going to Olvera Street is a nice option for a short weekend family activity in Los Angeles.

Here is a calendar with the different community events they have at Olvera Street. As of today, they haven’t updated it with the events for 2016, but I am sure they will soon.

Here are some pictures, if you want to see:
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When Do We Start Talking To Our Children About Race?

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Victor is 4 1/2 years old and he is “colorblind” to race, meaning the color of people’s skin is a non-issue. He doesn’t see it; he is not aware of it; he doesn’t register it. I don’t know if this is normal on kids his age, or, if it is the result of living in West LA, where friends, teachers, and neighbors come in every color.

It goes without saying that this makes me very happy, but, I know that at some point this is going to change. At some point, he is going to be aware of the existence of different races, and he will learn about racism. As a Latina, I wish this moment would never come, and I try to put a break to it by ignoring the topic. We just don’t talk about it.

Cut to: Martin Luther King Day.

Of course, I want Victor to learn about MLK. Of course, I want him to know about the civil rights movement and the struggle that minorities have gone through the years, but, when I heard that his school was going to have a MLK week, I got scared. I was afraid that talking about this very topic would open his eyes to something I don’t want him to see.

I believe race is a cultural concept that is acquired and learned. If you talk about MLK, you need to talk about race, and, I don’t want Victor to know what race is at this point.  So, how do you solve this Catch-22? How do you teach children history and, at the same time,  keep them “race-blind”? Is this possible? And, more importantly, at what age is it better to start talking about issues like these?

This past week, MLK and Rosa Parks mesmerized Victor. He came home from school everyday talking and singing songs about them while I listened, trying to find hints of race awareness. None were present.

By Friday, he came home and told me Rosa Parks’ story: how she got into a bus and bad guys wanted her to move to a different seat, and how she didn’t do it, and MLK defended her against the bus driver (story details get lost in 4 years old), etc, etc. I listened to him, trying to decipher what was he really telling me. Has race registered at any point in this story?

By the end of his tale, I ventured a little further and asked him who were the bad guys. He said, “the people that wanted Rosa to find another seat.” So, I went even further, fearful to ask what was at the core of my concerns, “why did they want her to sit down on a different seat?” I asked. To which he answered: “because they are BAD GUYS, mom! They are selfish and wanted all the seats for themselves (eye roll ensued).”

My baby is still race-blind, but now I have to worry about that teenager behavior. Sigh.

So, what do you think about this? would it be better to delay teaching our children about the civil rights movement (or, other minority movements)? Or, would it be better to talk about these issues at a young age? I would love to hear your opinions on this.

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King!


Image Source

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A Photography Workshop With Joel Sartore


One of my 2016 goals is to learn more about photography and, hopefully, get better at it. Now that I am accountable to the millions of people that read this blog, I decided to attend a photography workshop in January and start the year on the right track.

On Saturday, I took a photography workshop with Joel Sartore at the LA Zoo. He is a national geographic photographer that is the author of, among other things, the Photo Ark, a photograph project is trying to help animals in extinction.

Goals: attend a photography workshop, done; join a book club, done (I will write more about this later); exercise at least one time this year, NOT DONE. I need encouragement, people! I can’t get it together. Can somebody create a day with 60 hours, please? 20 of which should be dedicated to reading a book or binge watching Netflix’s series like “Master of None,” which is HILARIOUS, in case you are wondering what to watch next.

Back to the real topic of this post: as you might imagine, photographing animals requires a lens with a good zoom. I don’t have a lens with a good zoom. The closest I have to a zoom is a lens that shoots 50mm, which is the same perspective that humans see through their eyeballs.  Bad news, right?

The good news is that at the beginning of the workshop we got to photograph animals that were really close to us, so I had no problem doing that (see below), but the animals that came afterwards were a different story.

With this challenge in mind, I realized that I needed to be creative about how to take my pictures, and, as I am a people person anyway, I decided to take pictures of the people taking pictures. I am SOcreative (and SO humble), am I not? Cuek.

Here are some of the results:

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The workshop was a delight. I enjoyed being surrounded by people that had my same interests. Conversations flowed easily and I learned a lot by looking at the work of others. Joel Sartore was very nice and approachable, and the whole experience was a great way of spending a Saturday afternoon. New 2016 goal: sign up for another photography workshop.

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