Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 2, Page 2
Fun and games with baby

     One day when Lois Levy Nachamie, Delaware '69, was sitting with
her daughter Annie's play group of six other mothers and assorted
offspring, someone asked the inevitable, "What did you do before you
became a mommy?"
     The answers were astounding. Among the seven were two fiction
writers, an editor, a book agent, a parenting writer and a
psychologist. It was the agent who asked the question, "Why don't we
write a book?"
     Two years later, Entertain Me! Creative Ideas for Fun and Games
With Your Baby in The First Year hit the bookstores. Recently, the
popular book won the coveted Parents' Choice Award, issued annually by
the Parents' Choice Foundation in Newton, Mass. The annual award
identifies choice materials for children in the fields of literature,
illustration, films, television, radio, magazines, computer software,
recordings, videos, toys and rock 'n' roll. Winners of the awards are
listed in an annual awards issue of Parents Choice magazine.
     The seven authors, all members of the Riverside Mothers Group,
divided up publicity commitments, and Nachamie found herself plugging
the book on NBC's Today show. "I was just lucky to get that one," she
     Entertain Me! is a compendium of practical advice from these
women who found themselves nurturing each other as well as their
babies at their once-a-week get-togethers.
     "Like lots of women in New York City, we are all mothers of
advanced maternal age," Nachamie says. "Motherhood was an enormous
change. We literally held each other's hands all through the early
years of our children's lives.
     "When you're going hard at your career and suddenly find yourself
thrust into this v-e-r-y s-l-o-w baby time, with no real beginning, no
middle and no end, it can be overwhelming. You don't get up and go to
work with everyone else. If you're up all night with the baby, you
don't sleep with everyone else. Maybe you nap when the baby naps. Who
knows how the day will go?
     "That first year, there can be days when you're just incapable of
managing to get a shower.  We knew someone in the mothers' group would
understand if we called and said, 'Please, can you just come over and
sit with the baby for 15 minutes while I wash my hair?'"
     The group was formed rather informally. The members, who happened
to live near each other, met on a bus while toting infants or in the
grocery store while carrying babies or they were friends from college.
     Suggestions on how to form a similar play group are included in
the book. The benefits of such a group, according to the book, include
being with other parents who are making similar decisions, who never
tire of your obsessive talk about your baby and who "will usually be
happy to hold the baby for a minute while you go to the bathroom by
     Originally, the seven thought they would each write one of the
chapters in the book. But, as the project evolved, they worked in
teams of two, and the resulting book has nine chapters.
     "When we started," Nachamie says, "we each picked our first and
second choice of topics and put them in a hat. Amazingly, there were
no conflicts. When we finished writing, everyone got a copy of
everyone else's work and we all took a different color of ink and
critiqued the chapters. Eventually, one person took it all and
smoothed it out."
     Many will find the personal anecdotes scattered throughout the
book the best reading. Who, for instance, wouldn't be captivated by
Anna's dad, who in the chapter dealing with loud noises, "does a
special blender dance... so Anna pays attention to him and looks
forward to the noise..."?
     In one of her personal stories, Nachamie writes, "As I dressed
Annie, even when she was an infant, I'd say, 'Push your arm in.' It
was one of our first, albeit rudimentary, games. When she was less
than 8 weeks old, I was shocked to discover her little arms pushing at
my command. But then, 'puuuush' was the first word she'd ever heard."
     The book also is full of useful tips such as looking for paved
pathways when planning outings (ever try to push a stroller on
gravel?) or reading in your best "high-school-science-teacher
monotone" before naps or at bedtime. ("Save
     the enthusiasm for other times of the day," the book recommends.)
     While Nachamie began to pursue her own writing career again (she
has published two romance novels, and a new book is scheduled to be
published this year), the other six women in the group went on to
write another book. Some have since moved away, so the play group no
longer meets, but Nachamie's daughter is now in kindergarten with two
of the children from the original group.
     Nachamie also freelances articles on parenting issues and writes
for The Big Apple Parents' Paper. Additionally, she teaches parenting
classes at the 92nd Street Y Parenting Center-nationally famous for
its programs for babies and their moms. (Portions of her class were
recently filmed for a television special that ABC Emmy Award-winning
reporter John Stossel, longtime 20/20 correspondent, will air in the
spring on gender differences.) She also is the fundraising chairperson
for a support group for a gifted and talented program, in which her
daughter is enrolled.
     "I came to parenting so late, I never, ever thought it would be a
field of interest for me," she says. "I know that by having Annie
later in life I am more patient, but my knees creak when I get up and
                                                          -Beth Thomas