Rainn Nikolaev of Austin, Texas sits comfortably in her green-built Frank Lloyd Wright inspired home, surrounded by her 5 children, ages 4-18, all in various stages of breast feeding. Her oldest son, Rue, named after the family ancestral home in Ruse, Bulgaria is preparing to attend college in the fall.
A staunch breast-feeding advocate, Rainn has no intention of stymieing her efforts with Rue during his first year at Occidental College in Los Angeles. “I’ve spent every free minute of my life for the past 12 years researching the benefits of extended breastfeeding and they’re numerous. One study out of Peru suggests that people who are weaned after 18 years (not months) are likely to develop psychic ability, Leonardo da Vinci-level genius, need no vaccinations, and are immune to negative energy.”
I asked to see the breast feeding study from Peru and she casually replied, “oh…it’s somewhere online.”
As 5 year old Nuknuik was on one breast and 12 year old Atticus was on the other, she went about cooking a simple family meal of nutritional yeast and tempeh scramble over greens foraged at a local park. She then began to explain the logistics of breastfeeding her 18 year old son during his first year at college, and was more than happy to enlighten me with her worldview in the process.
“Between Rue’s classes I’ll take our private helicopter and meet him on campus. I can breastfeed the younger children while in flight. We homeschool, so I’ll record this as “life skills” in our education log. Rue has a break most days between 3-5. And every weekend Rue will come home to our place in Austin.” Rainn takes out her 65 dollar jar of Moon Dust and 75 dollar bottle of maca to add to one of her 3 daily smoothies.
“Some of my critics say that what I’m doing isn’t viable for most people. That because my husband works in the tech industry and is a multimillionaire that I, perhaps, have time and resources that others don’t. That’s total garbage. Complete hokum. I’m just like everyone else. We are no different.” Rainn looks down at her two children breastfeeding, “OK, that’s enough. We have Capoeira at 6 and chakra balancing at 8. Go get ready. See? We’re just like any other family, running around from activity to activity, ha ha ha…”
Rue finally appears. He is what I assume is an emo kid. He’s dressed in black, deathly thin, and has bright pink, thick eye-liner circling each eye like star bursts. I like him instantly. His mother yells from the other room, “Rue, tell her about the breast feeding schedule we worked out for you for your first year of college, your “weaning year!” Rue makes eye contact with me for the first time since he entered the room, takes out a can of Mountain Dew from his satchel, which is visibly filled with junk food and yells, “There is no fucking way that’s happening!” He looks at me intensely to punctuate his statement and repeats:
“No. Fucking. Way.”
He asks if I want a can of soda. As we sit drinking the vile, sugary drink, Rue makes a simple toast, “Here’s to getting out of the cuckoo’s nest.”
I’ll drink to that, kid.