The “I Want My Boobs Back” Edition

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Zak Rosen: This episode contains explicit language. Welcome to Mom and Dad, our Fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, June 16. The. I Want My Boobs Back Edition. I’m Zak Rosen. I make the Best Advice Show podcast. I live in Detroit with my family. My daughter Noah is four and my son Army is one.

Jamilah Lemieux: My name is Jamilah Lemieux. I’m a writer, contributor to Slate’s Care and Feeding Parenting Column and mom to Naima, who is nine. And we live in Los Angeles.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: I’m Elizabeth Newcamp. I write the Homeschool and family travel blog that starts Goose. I’m the mom to three littles. Henry, who’s ten, Oliver who’s eight, and Teddy who’s five. And we live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Zak Rosen: Today, we’ve got a tricky question about a toddler who is still learning to keep her hands to herself than on sleepless in grand mom and dad tradition. We’re visiting with a host parent. Up next on the hot seat is Elizabeth’s father. In honor of Father’s Day. Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll hear if you have Slate Plus.

Speaker 4: That’s a great question. Each of them reminds me of Elizabeth in a different way. It’s like they’ve taken a little bit different parts of her personality.

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Zak Rosen: If you want a weekly bonus segment from us and your other Slate favorites, consider signing up for a slate. Plus, you’ll also get to listen ad free and get unlimited access to the Slate website. To sign up now, go to Slate.com slash mom and dad. Plus, again, that Slate.com slash mom and dad plus.

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Zak Rosen: All right. We’re going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we are going to dive into some historical triumphs and fails. We’re back. And with Father’s Day approaching, we thought it might be fun to share some triumphs and fails of our parents from our childhood. Wow. This is rich Jamilah. Where are you going to go with this?

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Jamilah Lemieux: Okay, so when I was in the sixth grade, I had the amazingly fortunate opportunity to write, direct and star in a play. That my class, like, acted like members of my class, acted it out for the rest of the fifth grade. Like, wow. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized, like, what a really huge deal that was, that like, I was given such a privilege and I wish that I’d stuck with playwriting. And anyway, I was super dull. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Lewis. Like, I guess I wrote the play and told her about it and she was like, Love it. Like, we can do this as a show. And anyway, the teacher produced it.

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Zak Rosen: That’s cool.

Jamilah Lemieux: So my teacher produced it and it was called My Life, and it was about this girl who was like kind of acting up in school. And her parents were, like, frustrated with her. And so she, like, goes to sleep and she’s visited at night by, like, her ancestors who are like, you know, one was maybe I don’t know if I’d traced it all the way back to like slavery, but like, I know that one of them was like a civil rights activist, you know? And, like, they lived through difficult times. Right? And like, we’re there to tell her, basically, you know, as these figures typically do, and these types of stories like Get your shit together, you’re super privileged. Like, you know how easy you have it. We marched so you could, like, go to school and, like, not try. Are you kidding me? And so they come to her and she has this revelation.

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Jamilah Lemieux: And so I played the lead character was also amazing. I got to star in this show like, this is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Anyway, there was a little sister character and I noticed early in the show because we had a script, but we did a lot, a bit of improving that the audience really reacted to like me, you know, she and I arguing or like, you know, me mistreating her. And so for laughs, I kept like, you know, messing with her and, you know, she’s falling down all dramatic and is super funny. And so at the end of the play, when the girl has the resolution, the lead character, you know, she’s going to be better. She says something to her sister like, I still have to respect you, you know, and of course, the audience last there in fifth grade.

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Jamilah Lemieux: But let me tell you who does not laugh. My father, who for years made me feel guilty about that, would bring that up. Like could you say it is was like I was just so disappointed. It was just such a positive moment. And that was just so you’re going to tell your sister, I don’t have to respect you like he took stuff like that so seriously. Like he didn’t.

Jamilah Lemieux: So I didn’t get there. Probably my mom couldn’t make it to the play because this is like real life in the nineties and like, there’s no I was she was a videotape of it, you know, but like my mom couldn’t make it because she had to work. And so my dad came and like, you know, I should have been like shower with like how amazing and how incredible and like, he totally waited for her that way. Oh, my gosh. Wow. So that’s my childhood veil that I’ve carried with me. And I had not thought about it until we had come up with a childhood film. So I cannot wait to call my father today and make him feel bad because it’s about Daddy.

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Speaker 5: You just said good job.

Jamilah Lemieux: You couldn’t just focus on what an amazing thing I had done. No wonder I didn’t write any more plays or do anything like that. And so I was in college like I could have been Suzan-Lori Parks. I could be on Broadway right now. I could have been a very important playwright. And that little light was just what? Thanks, Dad.

Zak Rosen: Let us know what he says when you tell him that he’s on the show this week. And that’s where I will.

Elizabeth Newcamp: My parents, I’m going to call it a fail, but really comes from. Like a triumph that they had had every other time in that. We spent most of our summers at like sleepaway summer camp, even from a young age. And the thing my parents did really well was to always make sure that, like, they mailed letters to camp before we even left. Like, we always had stuff coming. They did such a great job with that.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: But I went to this Girl Scout camp and this was still pretty early in the in my camping experience. I want to say I was like maybe six or seven and I am a terrible speller. And I had gotten to camp and I had forgotten my goggles. And I wrote this letter to my parents and this camp was not that far. And I was there for like two weeks. And I basically was like, Please send my goggles. Like, Can you please put my goggles in an envelope or drive the hour and drop them off? Because, like, swimming in this pool without goggles is terrible. But I misspelled the word goggles and I don’t know if my parents were trying to teach me a lesson, but the next letter that came was like, We can’t find your goggles, we don’t know what goggles are.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: And so I really like goggles. Goggles, Big Sur. Now they’re even like, I don’t know, they’re trying to get me to learn to spell goggles. By the way, when I typed out the reminder for this still can’t spell goggles, I had to rely on it. I just remember it’s like when they picked me up, the first thing I thought was, Why didn’t you say goggles?

Speaker 5: Why didn’t you send them? You know, like, I spent two weeks at this camp.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Swimming with this burning coal mine.

Zak Rosen: Your eyes are bloodshot two weeks.

Speaker 5: Later, because you.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Were teaching me some kind of lesson, or maybe didn’t care enough to read the letter. I don’t know.

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Zak Rosen: Do you remember what they said? No, I wasn’t that there was. So it really did. Your father.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Definitely made some kind of joke, like.

Speaker 5: Goggles. Oh. Oh, yeah.

Zak Rosen: I wish we would have known this before we interviewed your dad for Slate Plus because we would have asked him about it.

Jamilah Lemieux: I know. I’d like to hear his side of the story. Oh, goodness.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Zach, what about you? How have your parents.

Speaker 5: Failed to, too?

Zak Rosen: 99% of the time my parents were so exquisitely loving and amazing. The asterisk that I’ll share today is it’s my my dad had a rage, like a lot of men of that generation or like a lot of people, I guess in general, this was I’ve been talking about baseball so much on this show. It’s been no, it in TV has just brought up a lot of stuff for me. But I’m six years old, so this is when the coaches are pitching. I don’t think the league keeps track of who wins or loses. There’s like there’s no stakes in terms of like no playoffs. There’s no reason you might sense where this is going. There’s no reason for someone to get really animated or excited about a certain call in a six year old’s baseball game.

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Zak Rosen: My dad wasn’t the coach at this time. He later became a coach, a wonderful coach. This never happened again after this time when I’m six years old. But he disagreed with a call from the umpire. And gets into it with an umpire who in retrospect, is a 15 year old kid with my dad who is like 30 or whatever. Yelling so much at this 15 year old kid who and the 15 year old, by the way, is giving him attitude back. So it’s like a manager and an umpire. Like face to face, you know, with like no room for like their noses touching. I don’t think they got that close, but they got so close that my dad got kicked out of my baseball game.

Jamilah Lemieux: Oh, no.

Zak Rosen: He got thrown out.

Speaker 5: When you were like six.

Zak Rosen: The I’m standing on third base. I can feel myself there right now. I’m just watching this happen. Everyone else is watching it happen to everyone else is watching my dad go nuts. And this really didn’t happen much, but it happened then. And I remember feeling so embarrassed and my dad got thrown out and he asked me like in the middle of the game, like, Zach, do you want to come home? And I was like, No. Like, I want to finish my goddamn game.

Speaker 5: You know.

Jamilah Lemieux: Walk out and not acknowledge me.

Speaker 5: So not everyone’s, like, know who you belong to. Exactly. Yeah. You should’ve looked over your shoulders. Zach. Who are you talking to.

Zak Rosen: You’re talking to, sir? I don’t know you. So, yeah, I was embarrassed. He was in full rage. He later apologized, but I’ll never forget it. And honestly, I can think of one other time in my childhood where he raged out like that. Maybe I’ll tell that story another day because it’s a funny one too. But yeah, visceral memory of that one. But I love you, Dad. I forgive you.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: I mean, you don’t seem like much of a major, but does that inform your T-ball parenting? Are you just like I will I will never make that particular mistake.

Zak Rosen: I think it informs so much of who I am in general. I think I have so I’ve been so conscious of like not wanting to be Reggie and so much so that I I’m like before I met my wife, I consider myself and still somewhat of a passive person because I was so conflict avoidant. I do trace it back to that. I’ve surprised myself when I have gotten Reggie a couple of times with no when she’s testing me like, Oh, I don’t know, I had that in me, but like I’m not above it. But yeah, I’m definitely aware of it. And I tried to never do it but slip up on a rare occasion.

Jamilah Lemieux: I mean, neither of my parents were writers, but I will say, like my mother, who I believe I mean, until I you know, until we started really arguing when I was a teenager, I was like, that is somebody who never, like, raised her voice in anyone, never got overly said. I’m like, I know people disrespected her. I know that, you know, I got to be like really even keeled.

Zak Rosen: What was your mom on the rage meter, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth Newcamp: You know, I grew up in a house of of lawyers. Both my parents are lawyers. So everything was sort of like on trial, like be prepared to argue your way and have backup and evidence. And so she didn’t rage. She just like I don’t want to say rained down justice, but that’s how it felt.

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Zak Rosen: Uh huh, uh huh. And she was the judge, like. And the prosecutor.

Jamilah Lemieux: Yeah, yeah.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Oh, yes, yeah. And the jury.

Speaker 5: And.

Zak Rosen: Okay. Let’s take another quick break. And when we come back, we’ll get into today’s listener question. All right. Let’s get into today’s question. It’s being read, as always, by the wonderful Sasha Leonhard.

Jamilah Lemieux: Hi, mom and dad. I’m the step mom of a beautiful three and a half year old daughter. We have a great bond. Her dad and I have majority custody of her and her mom gets her every other weekend. And we have been co-sleeping since they came into my life. It works for our family and after a hard divorce, it was what was best for her. The problem I’m having with the situation is that she is constantly grabbing for my breasts. Her little hands find their way up my shirt at night. In public, she tries to stick her hand down my shirt in the summer when sleeping in a tank top. I woken up from a dead sleep to her trying to latch. I recently found out her mom had still been breastfeeding her the nights that she had her. I know this is not my daughter’s fault, and I’ve tried to explain that this is something her and her mommy do, but she doesn’t seem to get it. I know she’s just looking for comfort as she gets plenty of nutrition at this point, and I think she’s just trying to bond.

Jamilah Lemieux: I’ve been dealing with it for a while, but now I have to draw the line. My partner and I recently found out that we are expecting and I have entered the realm of the horrible first trimester boob pain. Her little hands that were never welcome are even less welcome now. And I’m struggling to picture what this is going to be like when I’m breastfeeding the new baby. And she still has a hard time understanding that while I am her mom, I can’t do these mom things with her. Any advice is welcome. Your show has been invaluable through these transitions. All the best. I want my boobs back temporarily.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: I had this happen with Teddy. I actually almost asked.

Speaker 5: Jamilah.

Elizabeth Newcamp: You and Dan during like, what the heck am I supposed to do about this? Except that. Then finally what I was doing worked. And it stopped. It probably stopped a little a year ago, so around four.

Zak Rosen: But to clarify, he wasn’t doing it to another. No, no.

Elizabeth Newcamp: To me. To me. No. Yes. The only difference.

Speaker 5: Was.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Yes, that it was it was still happening. I mean, when it first started, he would reach for other breasts as well. Like, it was just it’s something that has always been a comfort to him. But what I found that worked is to remember that you’re absolutely right. She’s looking for comfort. And so often they associate the, you know, the breast with self-soothing. And so I think the thing is to put down a a hard but gentle rule that any kind of touching is inappropriate and just removing the hands for us.

Elizabeth Newcamp: It was a transitional object I found. Actually, my friend Bethany found the seat on her like blanket, but the head is round and squishy and then the little blanket comes off the side. So it has kind of a similar feeling to a breast. And I would literally carry it around and I would, you know, say like, nope, we don’t we don’t touch Mommy’s breasts. And then we I would put his hand on the transition object and I would say things like, I think what you actually need is a hug. Or, you know, as I removing the hand, do you need some time with mom and one on one time with mom for the sleeping? Because we also had something like this happen. I just had to wear like a long sleeve shirt until it just stopped, like basically cutting off any, any access. And it did. Like I said, it just became less and less of a behavior and then it just stopped. And I would say every once in a while now, particularly, like if I’m changing in front of him, he will still try, you know, like.

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Speaker 5: Oh, there they are.

Elizabeth Newcamp: You know, and to just say, like, remember, like we this is like Mommy’s body and your body, right? And you don’t need to be touching Mommy’s breast. And and it just took a long time. So I feel like what you have to do is just every time being, like, firm. If you’re holding her and it happens, you might have to put her down in bed. You may have to put like a pillow or something between you. But I would just make it really difficult and try to replace it with something else that that’s comforting.

Jamilah Lemieux: I think it’s important to make the mommy step mommy distinction. You know, like there is a line. There are things that are mommy, things that are not step mommy things. And breastfeeding is typically a mommy thing exclusively. You know, you would have some pretty complicated and unlikely circumstances in which a family is so progressive that we’re just going to share breastfeeding. And, oh, since you’re nursing, you can breastfeed my child. That’s not really a thing in most families. So essentially, I think it’s fair to say that for your family, at the very least, breastfeeding is a mommy thing, not a separate thing.

Jamilah Lemieux: And so focusing on like identifying what can meet like her company needs at that point because what she’s reaching for is comfort. And it also could be missing her mother. You know, that’s certainly part of it. You know, that’s a particular thing that she’d been able to do at night with her mother to go to sleep. So the fact that she can’t do it with you can create a feeling of missing her mommy that might not have been there before, despite how happy and comfortable and loved she feels with you and your partner.

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Jamilah Lemieux: But, you know, give her that talk, you know, about the difference between mommy and step mommy and you know that your love for her is tremendous. But you know that there are just certain things that are just between a mother and daughter, you know, and that’s okay. But you are there to give her as much love and affection as she needs. And, you know, if she’s craving, you know, something, she can you know, she can get it from you. She just can’t get the breast from you.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Maybe there’s something else the two of you can do. You know that that’s like that’s a mommy thing. This is a step mommy thing. Because I really do think you’re right that, like, she needs to make some kind of distinguish between this, especially as a new baby enters the picture. To make sure that that child feels, you know, like I still love you tremendously. And it was it’s not an issue of I don’t love you. It’s an issue in this family. The rule is that your comes from your mom and I’m your step mom. Yeah.

Speaker 5: Yeah.

Zak Rosen: Yeah. Like you can. It would be very sweet to come up with your thing. Like, let’s do something that’s just for me and you. Whether it’s. I mean, your boobs are hurting right now, so, you know, maybe it’s like instead of snuggling, if, you know, if you don’t want that. And I like there’s this like very specific, like, butterfly kiss that we’ll invent or some, like, cool hugging handshake, something that’s just for you, which can substitute, hopefully, but three and a half, you know, this girl’s getting to the age where she’ll be able to start to understand, you know, these boundaries and these delineations, I think.

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Speaker 5: Mm hmm.

Jamilah Lemieux: I think you should start thinking about what this looks like when the baby arrives, as opposed to waiting until you’re overwhelmed by your newborn’s, you know, need for you. You don’t want it to become a situation. And I, you know, can attest to Naima having these feelings that, you know, the three of you are a complete set and you don’t really need me. And because the three of you are a perfect family together, right? You same parents, you know.

Jamilah Lemieux: Yeah. And you know, no matter how love she is and no matter the fact that she’s older, you know, it may cause her to question, you know, where she fits in. In particular, if, like, say, for example, the bedtime ritual becomes 100% your partner. You know, if your partner takes over the bedtime ritual and you’re consumed with the baby, that could certainly, you know, create some feelings for her that would be difficult to contend with later. So I think, you know, making sure that at night, like your husband takes turns with you rocking the baby to sleep because you need to also be a part of your stepdaughter’s bedtime ritual, too. And maybe he reads the book because that takes longer. But you know that you’re still a part of her going to bed and waking up in the morning that she still has you integrated into her time at her dad’s house.

Elizabeth Newcamp: This is such a good point. And also with the co-sleeping, if you think you’re going to end the co-sleeping because now you’re going to co-sleep with the baby or if you’re going to continue and that’s going to obviously lead to a change of how everyone sleeps in the bed to keep everyone safe. You need to think about that and start instituting that now because changes that come right around, baby, get associated with baby. So if you can make those changes now instead of a few days before you go to the hospital or when the baby comes back and start talking about those changes, but also new privileges they’re going to get, you know, the older child’s going to get a new things they’re going to get to do with mommy and daddy. So it’s it’s not such a traumatic like this small thing comes home and Jamal, you’re so right. Like, you also have the potential for this to feel so much more alienating just because of your dynamics and being a step mom.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: So I think really carefully thinking about that in terms of all of this and and I would assume that actually the desire for your breasts may grow because it’s going to seem like that’s like something that the baby has. And it was something that that she, you know, felt like she had or had access to. So just kind of be I think it’s about being aware and being compassionate to what this child is going through as you’re making these changes that she has no control over. Right. Like the world is chaotic to to little kids. And so trying to prepare them for those things and explain as best you can to their little ears, like why the stuff is happening and how much they are loved and part of this family and important.

Zak Rosen: Well, I want my boobs back. Hopefully some of these ideas help. We’d love to know how it goes. Everyone else have you had a sticky situation and aren’t sure who to ask? We are here for you. Let us know by emailing us at Mom and dad at Slate.com or send us a voice memo and we may play it on the show. That’s also where you can send any other questions you have. And that’s it for our show Monday. We’ll be off for Juneteenth, but we will be back in your feeds next Thursday. While you’re at it, please subscribe to the show and give us a rating interview on Apple or Spotify.

Zak Rosen: This episode of Mom and Dad Are Fighting is produced by Rosemary Belson and Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola and Jasmine Ellis for Jamilah Lemieux and Elizabeth Newcamp. I’m Zak Rosen. Thanks for listening. Happy Father’s Day. Let’s keep going. Slate Plus listeners. Father’s Day is coming up. I’ve only with with young kids at home, I’ve only experienced a few Father’s Day, but our next guest has experienced many. This is a veteran parent who knows a lot about one of our co-hosts because he is her father. Michael Jay Blonsky is the father of Elizabeth Newcamp. And today he is here to give us like some DVD extras, some some details that Elizabeth might not disclose herself about growing up. We’re hoping to get some some intel from you, Michael. Welcome to mom and dad, our fighting and happy Father’s Day, Father’s Day.

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Speaker 4: Thank you for the Father’s Day. And thank you for having me.

Jamilah Lemieux: Elizabeth is such a high functioning mommy. She’s so hands on, you know, in terms of, you know, having done home schooling and creating all these great activities and games and just keeping her kids constantly engaged and traveling. Is this the is this the same person that she’s been her whole life essentially? Like, was she always really organized and really creative?

Speaker 4: Yes. You know, she that’s the way she was and always has been. Elizabeth always had something going on and was very talkative about what she was doing. And she was, in fact, an organizer. It took her, you know, several years to learn how to do that. But she was a leader in the hand in organizer.

Zak Rosen: How would you describe like a big difference in between the way you raised Elizabeth and what you’re noticing about the way she’s raising her kids?

Speaker 4: What’s funny is the way Elizabeth is raising her kids is more the way my mother raised her kids is very empowering, appreciates humor, imposes rules and enforces them, but also gives a lot of leeway. Our parenting style, I think, was somewhat similar. But, you know, both Elizabeth’s mother and I are lawyers, so I think we relied on rules a lot more than we would have otherwise.

Jamilah Lemieux: How do you balance parenting, Elizabeth, while respecting the fact that she’s a parent herself now? I know my own mother in particular sometimes has to manage, you know, her urges that relates to just interacting with me like a little person, you know, like her child. And I’ll always be her little person.

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Speaker 4: Yep, she’s my baby. Obviously, I would like to be involved more and more and equally. Obviously, that’s the wrong thing to do. You know, parenting is always assessing balances and that never ends. So, you know, now that Elizabeth has her own children, I don’t interfere. In fact, I haven’t had a time where I wanted to interfere, but we just have discussions about her, about different things. And philosophy is mostly just how to keep the household going.

Zak Rosen: My wife’s grandmother, who I never met, but I hear her her truisms and invocations all the time from her daughter. My wife’s grandmother used to say, Your children are the principal and the grandkids are the interest.

Speaker 4: Oh, I thoroughly agree with that. I mean, it’s nothing I would rather do than play with these boys. I mean, they’re very creative. They’re very self assertive. And it’s just it’s unbelievable that the vocabulary they can use and it’s clean.

Jamilah Lemieux: How do your grandchildren remind you of Elizabeth?

Speaker 4: That’s a great question. Each of them reminds me of Elizabeth in a different way. It’s like they’ve taken a little bit different parts of her personality. Henry For example, the ten year old has taken from Elizabeth the love of nature and the love of reading and the love of of writing. He can be he’s a lot of fun, but he can be very serious and asks great questions. The so-called little, little. We joke that Oliver and I are special buddies because we both have white hair and we both have light eyes. His our blue would mind her hazel. So we’re special buddies.

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Speaker 4: And what he got from Elizabeth was basically a freedom. To engage in his creativity. So a lot of times we are talking about our friends in the spirit world that the other members of the family cannot see. And it gets very complex. It’s very interesting. And then the baby, what Teddy got from Elizabeth is the energy. And Teddy is a performer. Teddy loves to perform. And I don’t want to say he acts out, but he really loves to tell a story. For example, the other night, he explained baseball to us for about 45 minutes and I wish I had recorded it. It was absolutely hilarious.

Zak Rosen: Beautiful. Well, so nice to meet you. Thanks for that.

Speaker 4: Really great to see you guys. It’s it’s just fascinating because listening to the podcast, I create a vision in my head of what you all look like. So now I have a vision that I will cherish. Well, for each of you, you.

Zak Rosen: Know I’m bald now, Michael.