Me as a baby with Papa G.
Baby woes? Raise your child the Greek way. Greeks, OK maybe not all Greeks but my Big Fat Greek family have many rules/ remedies/child rearing tips I wanted to share with you:
1. Smother your baby with love. A baby cannot have enough kisses, cuddles, squeezes and cheeks pulls, according to the Greeks. Gina Ford’s ‘don’t overwhelm your baby’ theory is sneered at by Greeks the world over.
2. A colicky baby should sip on fennel tea in a bottle. Does it work? No. But that won’t stop Greek aunties constantly telling you to give it to your screaming baby!
3. Swaddle your baby, the Greeks have done it for centuries and believe it’s the best way for your little one to get a good night’s sleep.
4. Don’t worry if your baby wakes up all night every night until they are 21, just put them in your bed.
5. When baby starts weaning, start him or her off on pureed white rice (none of that shop bought ‘powder’ as my Mama calls it), seasonal pureed fruit and Greek yoghurt. Progress to kebabs, spinach pie and spit roast lamb the second week of weaning (kidding).
6. Introduce loud, traditional Greek bouzouki music from an early age, preferably when pregnant so baby comes out dancing like Zorba and will ‘always appreciate the sound of real Greek music’ as Papa G would say.
7. All good Greek families will christen their baby ideally before they are 1. After the hour long service, copious amounts of food, ouzo and Greek cakes must be consumed, finished off with aforementioned bouzouki music and Greek dancing. A small christening is usually 100 people, a normal sized a 1000. You gotta admit it, the Greeks know how to throw a party.
8. Greek school. Any self respecting Greek family will start thinking about Saturday Greek school from the day the baby is born. ‘The baby must know it’s roots, learn the language, be a ‘proper Greek’ is drummed into you since, since…well you were forced to spend your Saturdays at Greek school yourself while all your non Greek friends had a life. Children start from as young as 4. Good times.
9. Customary trip to meet the Greek relatives in the home country. Being a 2nd generation British Greek immigrant means the trip to meet the family on the sunny island of Cyprus (where my family are from) or Greece, is a must. This also involves several of the above points: cheek pulling, kisses, cuddles, eating, drinking and dancing, in that order . I know. You want to be Greek too.
10. Living at home. Ideally Greeks want their families to live as near to them as possible, preferably next door. Living in a different postcode might as well mean a different country to the Greeks. If your cheeks are not within pulling distance Greek Mamas and Papas start to get worried. So why rebel, move next door and enjoy the full benefits of food, love and yes you guessed it…Greek dancing!