The misadventures of a first time father

Monthly Archives: September 2012

I think every parent wants their child to have better opportunities than they were able to have, or afford. Just about anyone with a child wants their child to be able to have a better life than their own (and if they don’t, then maybe they should re-think this whole parent thing).

With that in mind, I’ve started the process of setting up a 529 account for our son so that when he becomes of age, there is money that has been invested and put aside to help him further his education. Of course, we’ll also be hoping and encouraging him to apply for scholarships and grants wherever they’re available.

Whoa whoa whoa. Slow down there, dorky daddy. Talking about college already when your son is only nine weeks old? What gives?

Here’s where it comes from. You see, while I went to college and received a degree, it was not a road easily traveled for me financially. Sure, I’m confident there are many who had things far, far worse when it came to affording higher education, don’t get me wrong.

However, financial aid and a grant only covered so much, and the rest (and there was a lot of ‘the rest’) was covered by student loans. What’s worse, the majority of them were private student loans, as public student loans only cover so much.

I would never want to give up the experiences and lifelong friendships that I made in my time away at college, but the costs that came along with it have become the gift that keeps on giving…to the banks.

At the young age of 17, 18, 19, I wasn’t thinking about what my life would be like 10-15 years down the road. It was all so ‘far away’ that I just naturally assumed and had confidence in the fact that I’d very easily get a job and pay off any loans that I took out to pay for college.

How young, foolish and wrong I was.

Even in the current journalism job that I’ve had for more than five years, I’m still paying out half of my paycheck each pay period to student loan lenders and will be for years to come.

So is it worth it anymore?

It used to be that people attended a college to learn more about a specialized field. Today it seems like it’s become nothing more than a “credential” that one needs in order to get a job.

So, we take out massive debt to get a piece of paper that may or may not help us get a job in order to pay for the massive debt we took out in the first place.

We’ve become indentured servants to our schooling and the banks, forcing us to stay in jobs that we might otherwise take the leap of faith out of to bigger things, but stay where we are for the security of knowing we can pay off that education debt that has outgrown so many other bills.

I don’t want that for my son.

Hopefully, by teaching him not only the importance of learning and how to learn, but investing in the 529, should he choose to go on to college, he will not become the Jacob Marley of education, wearing the shackles of student loan debt that so many of us on the college degree chain gang must wear.

Time is going by fast.

My wife is giving our son a bath as I write this.

It’s Sunday night, the temperature outside is a reminder that fall’s crisp breeze will be here anytime. Inside the house, the lights are low, there’s no TVs on, and the only sounds throughout our home, other than my tap tap tapping away at the keyboard, is the two of them. She has him in the kitchen sink, with a comfy yellow foam piece especially for baby’s bum underneath him, and he is quietly taking it all in as she cleans him up, singing to him alongside a Celtic Lullaby CD her sister gave us before he was born.

I can hear her voice throughout the house, despite its softness, but what I don’t hear is him. He’s not yelling, he’s not crying, he is simply getting clean and watching and listening to his mother in awe.

It’s quite heartwarming.

It also brought with it that moment in my gut after my brain realizes “I can’t believe you’re going to be a little person someday.” Sure, we’re only a little over eight weeks right now, but where did all THAT time go? I shudder to think how fast the next year and so on will drift by.

A reminder to savor every waking moment we can, for sure.

Hope you all had a great weekend.

I’m still reading Joseph Chilton Pearce’s “Magical Child.”

Rather than bore anyone with my attempts at a book review, I thought I’d share a slew of quotes and notes I found interesting amid the next few chapters.

Chapter 2 – Matrix Shift: Known to Unknown

“The womb offers three things to a newly forming life: a source of possibility, a source of energy to explore that possibility, and a safe place within which that exploration can take place.”

Once we have a an established bond in that matrix (the mother), a child is then ready and able to move on to to the next stage of development.

“The early child can move into an exploration of the world only by standing on the safe place provided by the mother. Later, after age seven, the child can move into the matrix of his/her own personal power only by standing on the safe place of the earth itself.”

In order to relate creatively and explore all possibilities, one has to achieve independence from the matrix. To relate fully to the mother, an infant has to leave the womb and eventually, move on from the dependency relation with the mother. After age 7, to relate fully with the world, the child must functionally separate form the world.

“Intent always precedes the ability to do; that is, during any particular stage of development, nature is preparing us for the next stage.”

“Everything is only preparatory to something else that is in formation, as day must fade to night and night to day.”

“We can force certain forms of abstraction prematurely on the child in his/her concrete stage of development, but the effects are specifically damaging (even though the damage will not be detectable for several years).

“…the newborn infant requires about eight or nine months to structure a knowledge of the mother as new matrix and move out to explore the larger matrix, earth; the child requires about seven years to structure a knowledge of the earth matrix and shift from mother as safe space to earth itself; and so on.”

If you are stressed, the baby will be stressed.

Interaction is a dynamic interchange of energy. Interaction automatically increases and enhances our safe place.

“Give the safe place for growth, the vast possibilities of the huge womb world, and the great energies of the mother’s body to call on, that tiny organism grows at an astonishing rate.”

“This interaction is the growth of intelligence and body and is the pattern our entire life should follow.”

“Research shows that the mother is the infant-child’s basis for exploration of the world itself.”

“The mother is the infant’s world…she is the infant’s power, possibility, and safe place.”

In those first eight to ten months of life, the baby has to, above all, structure a knowledge of the mother.

“Only when the infant knows that the mother matrix will not abandon him/her can that infant move into childhood with confidence and power.”

“Development then moves toward structuring a knowledge of personal power in interacting with that world matrix.”

“The biological plan is wrecked when the intent of nature is met, not with appropriate content, but with the intentions of an anxiety-driven parent and culture.”

“Anxiety results when the child is forced in mismatched relating of intent and content. Interchange with the matrix and growth of personal power then break down, but the sequential unfolding of maturation goes right ahead.”

“We must first recognize that such a plan exists…We knew about this plan when we were around six years old and a great excitement, longing, and joyful anticipation filled us. Something else happened, of course; and even as it happened, we know intuitively that it was all wrong. This primary knowing got covered up by anxiety conditioning, which was so deep and pervasive, so ingrained and so continually reinforced and amplified on every hadn that the deep knowing has been lost to us.”

“We must rekindle our knowing of a personal power that can flow with the power of all things and never be exhausted.”
Chapter 3 – Intelligence and Interaction

“Interaction is a two-way exchange of energy, with an amplification of the energy of each of the two forces.”

“Reaction is a one-way movement.”

“We always tire when energy flows out in this way. In true interaction, however, we never tire.”

“Through interaction, intelligence grows in its ability to interact. We are designed to grow and be strengthened by every event, no matter how mundane or awesome. The flow of nature and seasons, people, extreme contrasts, apparent catastrophes, pleasantries — all are experiences of interaction to be enjoyed and opportunities for learning, leading to greater ability to interact.”

“Any bodily involvement by the early child brings about a patterning in his/her brain system concerning that movement and all the sensory information related to it.”

“If repeated sufficiently…puppetlike movements…will lead to that infant’s ability to initiate and complete these movements months ahead of an infant who is not so stimulated.”

“Intelligence can only grow by moving from that which is known into that which is not yet known, from the predictable into the unpredictable.”

“When people express reaction-aggression, they are expressing not just a crippled intelligence, but what they have actually learned.”

“Growth of the infant-child’s ability to interact means increased rhythmic patterning in the brain and corresponding muscular responses. This growth can be slowed almost to a standstill by subjecting the growing child to demands inappropriate to his/her stage of development, that is, by trying to to force the child to learn or deal with information or experience suitable to a later stage of development or by keeping them locked into an earlier stage. Then the child learns that learning itself is difficult and frustrating or non-rewarding.”

“…adult idea systems and opinions, is designed for the later years for development. Forcing the early child to deal prematurely with adult abstract thought can cripple the child’s ability to think abstractly later on.”

“Direct physical contact with the world – taste, touch, even smell – are often either discouraged or actually forbidden in the parent’s anxiety over the hazards of germs and imagined threats. Without a full-dimensional world view structured in the formative years…no knowledge of physical survival can develop.”
Chapter 4 – stress and learning

“When we know the probable outcome of an event taking place around us, our body systems can remain fairly passive and relaxed.”

“We spend large part of our adult lives establishing routines that allow us to function with a minimum of sensory sampling.”

“The unknown-unpredictable imposes sensory data that do not fit the brain’s established editorial policies well enough to be handled automatically by various subordinates.”

“To enter into an unpredictable situation and accept it openly is to flow with its energy, be augmented in your own energy, and relax its tensions and stresses accordingly.”

“The periods of prenatal life, delivery, birth, and infancy are all genetically designed to provide exactly the kinds of experience needed for the brain to structure its place of power.”

“The mother is the infant’s first matrix and the source of his/her possibility.”

“If this matrix does not become fully structured, if such a security and strength are not given from birth, intelligence will have no ground on which to grow.”

“Without that safe place to stand, no energy can be utilized to explore possibility…”

“We then spend our lives trying to avoid this threat. (the unknown)”

“The person denied the first matrix remains grounded in that earliest stage, trying to establish some arbitrary and artificial safe place of his/her own making. It is a compensation that never works.”

It’s been an emotional 24 hours, and it all begins with a dry erase board.

What? A dry erase board? How much wallop can a piece of plastic sitting on the refrigerator really pack?

Quite a bit, actually.

You see, the dry erase board has been hanging on our fridge from the day we first moved into our home (our first home, I add). As the past three years have ticked by, nothing was erased from it, only added to it. It began with my wife’s adorable drawing of our house right after the purchase, and the phrase “our house” above it, a nod to the song that makes us think of that day we finally closed on our little starter home, often prompting a “remember that” hug. Then came some messages back and forth leading up to our wedding day – an I love you here, an I love you too, there. Messages from visitors. Even some doodles of our three kitties that have expanded our family over the those three quick years (and are the reasons I discovered my paternal side and just how ready I was to be a dad).

This weekend, though, those memories went from the dry erase board that we passed every day, to memories for life in our heads as we erased to make way for a new chapter.

That chapter, of course, is the life with our newborn son. He’s 7 weeks old now, and today marked the first day my wife had to return to work and that dry erase board now serves as the list of reminders for our new morning routine.

I’ve written previously about my fears leading up to this, but today was it.

Due to a number of factors, including the challenges that have come about with breastfeeding, as well as some economic restraints, we’ve taken a member of the family up on an offer to watch him during the day while we’re at work. While this strikes our wallets much easier, it still has not made the emotional punch of separating him from mom any softer.

Yesterday was filled with that anxiety of what’s to come, every routine movement filled with so much more sentiment knowing a pivotal point is about to begin. From his bath to his evening feeding, everything was filled with a tinge of sadness, knowing that tomorrow and the days forward would be different.

This morning, our new routine began, waking several hours earlier, getting ready, and most Earth-rocking, getting him ready. As we fitted him into his carrier for a trip in the car, it was hard not to fight back the tears that followed. He is our baby, our little man, who has spent these past seven weeks with his mommy at every moment.

We would love more than anything for my wife to be able to stay home with the kids, but financially, it is just not possible. We’ve tried every equation to find some way to make it feasible and the numbers just never add up. The front door closed as I carried him down the steps, my wife’s tear-filled face behind it.

It was the hardest thing emotionally I’ve ever had to do. I can’t imagine what it feels like the first time a parent puts their kid on the bus for school.

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