Interview with Mayim Bialik!

Monday, October 25, 2010

I can't begin to explain how fantastic it was to have the opportunity to interview the amazing Mayim Bialik!

Photo Credit: Denise Herrick Borchert
Tiffany Noth: “You left us for quite some time after Blossom, where did you go and what were you doing during that time frame?”

Mayim Bialik: “When Blossom ended, I was two years out of high school and so I was ready to go to college. I went to UCLA and did my undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and Hebrew and Jewish studies as my minor.

I met my now husband in college when we were both undergraduates and we both did graduate school at UCLA. I did a Phd., it took seven years.

I had my first son in graduate school. I finished my degree in 2007 and I had my second son in 2008, and then I started auditioning after that.”

Tiffany Noth: “You spent several years working on Blossom, I’m sure you have very fond memories of that time. Do you care to share any of those with us??

Mayim Bialik: “It’s hard to pick, over five years and from the time I was 14 to 19 it was kind of a full life that we all had together on the set. I think in general it was a very, as tv experiences go, it was a very positive one. I think being in high school for most of it was a real challenge but I also really benefited from the one on one tutoring that I got when I was working and that’s actually what led me to my love for science.”

Tiffany Noth: “That’s awesome, is it weird getting back into acting after being away for so long?”

Mayim Bialik: “It’s difficult to kind of have a whole shift of life but I think it’s not unlike what a lot of moms experience when they sort of have one life and then they have kids and that becomes a new identity. I think for me, the bigger challenge with being an actress as an adult is now I have children and that is something that is always with me and I also still nurse my younger son, so he is literally always with me.”

Tiffany Noth: “I’m sure that is a challenge.”

Mayim Bialik: “Yeah, it’s a blessing but it’s also a challenge.”

Tiffany Noth: “Now that you are acting on Big Bang Theory, so far, what has been your favorite scene or episode that you’ve participated in?”

Mayim Bialik: “The one we’re filming this week is so ridiculously hysterical. I can’t really share too much because we’re filming it right now but I guess I can give a little tease. They are really letting this character {Amy Farah Fowler} have her own identity, separate from Sheldon which is obviously a really exciting thing being involved in this show, this season. I think one of the funny things about my character is, she’s obviously quirky like Sheldon is but they’re making her much stranger than Sheldon in terms of the way her mind works and the things that come out of her mouth. It’s just really hysterical. I think this is my favorite episode so far.”

Tiffany Noth: “I can’t wait to see that one. You have have two little boys, Fred and Miles. Bloggy Moms has members who are into the attachment parenting, what got you into attachment parenting?”

Mayim Bialik: “I was brought up by parents who were for their time, very progressive. My mother delivered me naturally… she didn’t want to give us cow’s milk after she stopped breast feeding. My parents were, I think, limited a lot by sort of, the times and also being raised themselves in the 1940’s when parenting was kind of different as well.

My husband and I started doing a lot of research when we got married and when we wanted to get pregnant and we mainly took our lead from friends of ours who had kids before us. Many of our friends are from Northern California where ideas flow very freely. We got to see a lot of different parenting styles and our friends were ahead of us enough that we actually got to see how their kids were growing up, not just in infancy. We really liked what we saw how these families who practice attachment parenting, what their kids turned out like. We were able to see that and that’s really what we were aiming for when we made our decisions.”

Tiffany Noth: “That’s fantastic to get that view of it. What attachment parenting techniques have you found to be most affective for your family?”

Mayim Bialik: “Breastfeeding is I think the cornerstone of our parenting style, not just our nutrition style and we’re extended breastfeeders so I guess that’s a special category. We practice elimination communication with both of our children which my husband thought was the craziest thing he’d ever heard of when I told him about it the first time but he is the biggest believer.

We have eliminated pretty much all the toxic chemicals or products in our house, that’s a big one and I’m the spokesperson for the Holistic Moms network.

We’re vegan and for us that’s a big part of teaching our children how to treat the planet. That’s now how everyone has to be obviously but it’s not part of attachment parenting per say but for us reducing our impact on the planet is part of a holistic parenting style.

Gentle discipline. People always ask if you had to pick one aspect of attachment parenting what would it be? For us, using non violent communication with our children and not hitting them is a really big important facet of our lives.

Tiffany Noth: “You mentioned the elimination communication. For those who don’t know what that might be can you tell us a little bit about that?”

Mayim Bialik: “Sure, elimination communication is a method of learning your newborn or young child’s signals. Most people don’t know but in a lot of the world diapers are not used the way we use them in this country. Babies are actually born giving signals, they’re subtle, they do give signals when they go to the bathroom and if you reinforce the signals they will give the signals stronger and you can learn just like you learn how your child best plays or how your child best soothes themselves or can be soothed when they’re hurt. Every child has a distinct way that they will signal when they have to go to the bathroom. So the goal is to teach them to associate what their body is doing with a potty and they can do it. It’s a fallacy that children are not ready to know their bodies before the age of 3. The study that stated that was actually funded by Pampers.”

Tiffany Noth: “That’s very interesting that Pampers was a part of that.”

Mayim Bialik: “It’s known, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, it’s known that the study was sponsored by a diaper company who now makes diapers into the five year range.”

Tiffany Noth: “You are in the process of writing a parenting book, correct?”

Mayim Bialik: “I actually just finished my first draft last night.”

Tiffany Noth: “That’s awesome, can you tell us a little bit about it?”

Mayim Bialik: “Yeah, as I’ve been going out into the interview world I’ve been asked a lot about our parenting style and we don’t think of it as that weird or unconventional and it’s actually the way that people parented for all of human history except the last two hundred years or so. But I’ve been asked a lot about it and what I’ve started hearing from people who were not holistically minded was even though they don’t necessarily think they would ever want to do a lot of the things we do… they felt that the way I presented it made it really interesting and non-judgmental. They didn’t feel judged for not wanting to do EC or whatever it was. So several people recommended that I write a book and I was thinking that sounds ridiculous, I don’t need to write a book. But one of the people who told me she thought I should write this book wanted me to meet her literary rep. So I met her literary agent and within three months we had a book with Simon and Schuster, sold… and I’ve written, gosh, I think there’s fourteen chapters now. Dr. Jay Gordon is writing the forward, he’s our pediatrician. He’s obviously a well respected author and doctor in his own right.

The idea is that I’m not a pediatrician, I don’t know how you should parent your kids but I know how I want to parent my kids and the book is basically our experience as parents with the things that we believe babies need and how we make that happen under that attachment parenting umbrella and then the things that our society tells us that our children need that we have found they actually don’t. It’s more of a personal anecdotal book but my background in neuroscience gives me sort of an understanding of child development and brain development and we really believe that attachment parenting is in line with the way our brains were made to bond.

Tiffany Noth: “I look forward to reading that book. You’ve also chosen to home school. Can you describe your approach to home schooling and how you got into the idea of doing it?”

Mayim Bialik: “We did the Parent and Me at the local Waldorf School and we liked the Waldorf philosophy which is kind of a non-academic and really encouraging creative play and working with your hands. We met a family in this Parent and Me class who was home schooling their older son and we started learning about the community and we’re very schooly people. My husband and I both have graduate degrees, my parents are teachers and my husband’s parents taught. We really liked a lot of aspects of what we saw in the home school community here which is a very large and well structured community. We happen to be Waldorf inspired, meaning we don’t do structured academics with our son. Our younger guy is only two but Miles is five. Miles, I’m teaching him piano and we are learning maps this year and we’re learning kind of general animal studies. We’ve started with birds and now we’re actually on butterflies and moths. I think most people would consider us un-schoolers. We don’t have a chart of what we believe he needs to know by the end of this year. We’re very comfortable with him enjoying the world, seeing how we live our life, doing errands with us and it seems to suit him very well. We love the flexibility of the schedule. We love being with our kids all day. We love teaching them in a way that makes sense, knowing their personalities and I think that’s something that for me got lost when I was in school.”

Tiffany Noth: “That’s what I’m enjoying about home schooling, spending the day with my children.”

Mayim Bialik: “It’s amazing, you have to want to be with your kid a lot. And I’m not saying you’re a bad parent if you don’t want to be with your kids, but when people look at me and say… ‘how do you get anything done, how do you stand to be with your kids all day’ especially since we don’t use television or movies. Everyone decides how they want to spend their day and for us we figure out when to do chores… and all the other things, we figure it out.”

Tiffany Noth: “Again, thank you so much for spending time with me today. I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy busy schedule for this.”

Mayim Bialik: “Thank you”

Tiffany Noth: “I look forward to your book coming out! Thank you and have a great day!”

Mayim Bialik: “You too, bubye!”

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