Welcome to Strength in Words, a family enrichment program for parents, caregivers, infants and toddlers. This is the introduction episode, so here, I’d like to tell you a bit about the origins of Strength In Words, and talk a bit about my mission. In all future episodes, we get together to sing a few songs, discuss some ideas for play, and outline some insight about early development. Whether you’re a parent or caregiver, you spend most time at work or at home, whether your baby is following a typical progression of development or not, this series is time for you to be together and to feel like you’re doing something good for and with your baby. Each week you are encouraged and reminded to please follow your baby’s lead. The whole idea is to promote shared interactive experiences – so if you can’t get through the entirety of an episode while sitting in one place, that’s perfectly fine! You can always come back another time or another week!
I am a speech-language pathologist and I specialize in work with very young children, but this is not to be confused with “speech therapy.” This is, what I call, “family enrichment!” All suggested activities are meant to be enjoyed by your baby under close adult supervision.
So, let me get into the back story, by sharing an anecdotal story.
There are some experiences in life that sort of "defy" language, that we think of as "larger" or "fuller" than what words can express. In Norwegian, there is a word, "koselig," that is more like a concept. There is no direct translation - it's been described to me as... a feeling. I asked a Norwegian friend of mine what her koselig is. She described it in the following way:
"Eating tacos on a Friday night in sweat pants with a glass of wine... Making cinnamon rolls... decorating for Christmas... Picking up coffee and taking a walk with a friend I haven't seen for a long time."
I asked her how family related to her concept of koselig, and she said,
"My son is not koselig. But it could be koselig to read a book to him. Or give him a bath, or have some quiet time with him in the morning."
I think these days there is some kind of bizarre societal pressure to find this experience of parenthood to be a world of koselig, all the time... and there are moments when we succeed in creating this, but we know that the reality - for all of us, even those who heavily curate their social media profiles - is much different!
In this age of "over-information" and over-filled schedules, we have such limited time to devote to our families. Our time to learn how to even begin to become parents is almost as short as the time between our baby's birth and the day we realize that little infant gets a lot more than we were giving him or her credit for. There are only 18 summers between the beginning and end of childhood. There are a ton of books, a ton of websites, and most of us feel this enormous pressure to "get it right" and that we're "doing it wrong."
Here's the thing: NOBODY out there knows the best way for you to parent your kid. Not your mom, not your partner, not your neighbor, not the book that purports to. That is something that you and your child are going to have to figure out, again and again... pretty much every day - if you're lucky, for the rest of your life! That is the enormous responsibility that we have as parents and caregivers. And those early experiences that we give our infants and toddlers are the ones that shape their experience of life, and of how they define closeness, comfort, and koselig.
So my aim here, really, is to try to distill some of the information that's out there, to take some of the pressure off of parenting and caregiving for you, even for only as long as it takes to sit through listening to my voice. To make this experience a bit less overwhelming. I have no intention of being prescriptive. This is not about those divisive topics that we all feel strongly about and tend to stand vehemently behind one side or the other. This is about how our infants and toddlers develop. Those universal nuggets about when and how our kids might be working on certain aspects of development. The science bit - the developmental research. And really this is about the art of it - how do we support that? How do we learn to get down to their level, to see like they do, to access the world like our brains are learning as much as theirs are?
I do NOT claim to have all the answers, or even to have a complete picture. But the aim of my time with you is two-fold: to support your family's understanding of early child development; and, to support your family's interaction - the quality of the precious time you have together. Let's try to get to the heart of things, to give ourselves and our children that warm feeling inside, and to do it artfully - you know, having a little fun.
Oh yeah, and who am I? My name is Ayelet Marinovich, and I'm what you might call an "early communication" expert. I'm a pediatric speech-language pathologist, a singer, a parent educator, a theater person, a storyteller, and also, just a mom. When my husband and I moved to a new country, I was 10 weeks pregnant and very focused on creating connections. When my baby was born, I decided to combine my skills and my desire to create a safe, social, learning space for myself and my baby, and other caregiver-baby pairs. I started to devise a curriculum that was based on my own developmental knowledge, that of my friends and colleagues in early learning, a ton of developmental research, as well as information and experiences I integrated as a mother along the way. The weekly time I spent with the families in my early days as a mother was incredibly special, and amounts to my own definition of koselig.
So let's dive in together. Let me try to take out the prescriptive nature of "parenting advice" and instead supplant it with knowledge and ideas - helping you create your own moments of koselig.
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