A zoologist's view of childhood

Desmond Morris has a new book "Child" out.  It is about littlies over two (so only one of mine).  This review is what got me thinking.

I would love to get an anthropologist and a neurodevelopmental specialist in a room together and have them talk about this kind of stuff. Especially if both were actually parents. (Of course Desmond Morris is a zoologist, but as we are just great apes I cam calling him an anthropologist of sorts.)

Lets face it, there are a lot of people telling us how to raise our kids.  And a lot of us are working so hard to do everything right that we are tearing ourselves up with guilt.  

When my kid watches TV I feel guilty, but should I?  Or should I say it is one of many, many places my kid gets information from and it stimulates his imagination just as much as books do?

I do not have the personality necessary to be a stay-at-home-mom.  But much of the attachment parenting stuff I read says my kids need me to be right next to them all.the.time.   Working moms are fine as long as they are working because they have to for financial reasons, but if it is by choice, if it is because you need time away from them to be there for them?  More guilt.

I have read a few of Desmond Morris' books and I found them eyeopening.  Learning to look at the human world as it, and we have evolved (which I did back in school) has played a big part in who I have become.  And my view of parenting.  Which is a REALLY big part of my life right now.  I think we and our children's brains have evolved based on how we used to live.  We lived in pre-industrial societies for most of our existence.  That is how we evolved.  And pre-industrial society is not made up of two parent families.  It is made up of large groups of related people who band together to do all the work.  Kids run around together in groups.  Women work together, often away from their kids who are looked after by older women and teenagers.  Men are...doing the same thing as the women, but further afield.  Children learn from everyone and everything.  They use all their senses.  They are frightened, by lions, tigers, bears and older kids flattening them.  They learn by seeing, feeling, hearing and smelling.  There are constant stimuli that change and that they have to take in or they die (and way too many of them die anyway). 

So, while I haven't read the book (the library doesn't have it yet) I am happy to share my opinions.  Children should see, hear, and experience as much of their world as possible while they are with their parents who can monitor and keep them safe.  

That means us sitting down and watching an episode of Sesame Street together and talking about it is good.  I know that when he is one and a half and points at stop signs saying octagon because Jack Black taught him all about them.  I sit and watch him as much as I watch it and if he is uncomfortable I can tell and we switch it off.  He started off acting out scenes from Thomas the Tank Engine and now he makes stuff up entirely.  We also read books, and books and books.  And we go outside to the playground, and travel on mass transit and experience the full world. 

That also means that they need to experience the world outside me and our family, so I do my homework and find good daycare and let the kids go.  And they love it.  They love playing with, next to and learning from other kids.  They gain a lot from knowing that different people and places have different rules.  They gain from being away from each other for hours in a day.  I let my kids interact with as many different people as they want to.  My babies have babbled at junkies on the train, hi five-d retired long distance cyclists, walked over to hipster 20-somethings swinging and trying to be cool in the park.  And they will always do so. 

And I consider this my version of living the stoneage dream.

1 comment:

  1. Atta girl! The first post is the hardest. :)