Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thanks for the inspiration, SJ!

I was just reading on one of my favorite blogs: "Keeping Up." Sara's latest post alludes to the trend of over-scheduling children; I started writing a comment on her blog, and realized that I was writing a blog post of my own. So...I came over to my own blog and kept writing. So, for what it's worth...my comment to Sara has blossomed and is now my rant to the world:

YES! Resist busyness! ( I think I'm going to adopt this as my new motto.) This is true for adults as well as children.

It's odd, and a little unsettling, how I already feel a vague sort of pressure with a baby - just seven months old - to make sure I provide the right stimuli for learning, the right toys, etc. It's a good thing to be aware of these things, I guess, but I tend to get a little too angsty about it. I find myself thinking, "Am I doing this right? Am I not playing and"ENGAGING" him enough? ( You know when you start using vapid, meaningless buzzwords like "engaging" that you're in trouble.) Should I buy loud, annoying toys and force him to play with them? Are there studies that prove that infants are positively affected by those irritating toys? If I just DO more, will he get better SAT scores???" Not really - not that last one anyway...but I have to keep giving myself reality checks, resisting the weird temptation to constantly second guess myself or somehow feel guilty and instead, just RELAX, for Pete's sake. It's like I'm comparing myself to some non-existant, perfect mother. But sometimes I just want someone to TELL me what to do. Get this toy, do this three times a day, read this book. This will ensure a better future for your child. Voila. A formula. Too bad that's not how life works. ( And besides- " better?" Better than what? Better than perfectly fine? Better than happy? Yeah- makes no sense.)

The pioneers and founding fathers are a great solace to me. They didn't have scads of cool toys with flashing lights and seventy two different tunes built into microchips. They didn't have mobiles that play lullabys hanging over their cribs. They didn't do baby yoga. They did not have Gerber foods or Huggies Sensitive Skin Wipes. ( GASP - how did they SURVIVE?) And look what they did: they wrote the Declaration of Independence. They created the Constitution. They crossed the continent. They built the transcontinental railroad...to name but a few accomplishments. Nice work! Not too shabby, as Nate would say. They were incredible inventors, thinkers, writers, and scholars. Even as children, they could run circles, intellectually speaking, around the smarty-pants college students of today.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John and Abigail Adams, Daniel Webster, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell did not have Baby Einstein DVD's. For that matter, EINSTEIN didn't have Baby Einstein DVD's. So there, busybody moms of today. Take that.

Disclaimer: this is not to say that from now on I am going to use leaves or woolen wipes on Aiden's poor little bottom, tear down and stomp on the mobile over his crib, give him muddy, pointy sticks to play with, forbid him from ever leaving our property, and teach him that Baby Einstein is the essence of evil. Nope. I may actually play those DVDs for him someday. I LIKE the cute little toys he has. I want him to find interests and pursue them. I just don't want to be obsessed with keeping up with the culture around me that ceaselessly chants, "Do More! Buy More! Experience more! Go more! Not enough! Not enough! Not enough!"

7 comments:

kw said...

"When I relax, I feel guilty"?

Claire said...

Mmmmm...nooooo...Did I say that? I can relax a-plenty...I don't think that's my problem. Sorry if I miscommunicated...Oh- I think you're referring to the thing where I say I second-guess myself and sometimes feel guilty that I'm not doing enough...or not doing it right or whatever... BUT THAT'S why I have to keep giving myself reality checks to JUST RELAX - is that a better way of putting it?

Su said...

Okay, Claire...I must concur. You are right. Busyness is overrated. I have four children, ranging from ages 5-15. None of them are involved in anything right now. We play together, (as you can see on my latest posted movie) and it's good! Mel works at the library, but other than that, we visit with friends. It's a good life. I have had the times of busyness...ballet(5 years ago), baseball(2 years ago) and horsebackriding(1 year ago), and yes, it was good at the time, but we didn't do it all at once...we did one thing at a time. NEVER sacrificing dinner time with the family. I just don't get the overly busy lifestyle of people today. All I ever hear from people is how miserable they are. Well, they can decide how much or how little they do. I have chosen quiet.


sorry this was so long!!!

kw said...

no--I know you didn't say it..what you wrote just reminded me of the title of that book....

Claire said...

AHA! A book! I thought that rang a bell... but I didn't know it was a book bell...

Shari said...

I could not have said this ANY better! I know exactly what you mean, Claire. I truly try to not get caught up in all of that. When Maisy was supposed to turn over at a certain age, Brent said "what? Is she still not going to turn over when she's 16?" and we both decided all those stupid silly rules are kind of worthless. She turned over when she was ready to. She walked when she was ready to. Most of it has been right on schedule or early, but I don't want to get caught up in all of the things I'm supposed to make her do, or be doing myself in order to make her a better person. The one thing I do, consistently, is pray for her. Then the rest will come.

Amy said...

Since listening to a segment on NPR about children discussing all their activities, and how the commentator remarked that not so long ago, "play dates" didn't exist, that they were called Summer, Afternoons, and Weekends, I have been highly against over scheduling children's lives. Think of how frightening these children will be when they grow up...micromanaged since birth!

I'm also not a fan of the whole, "Baby needs this amazing new thing to develop properly!" I think quite a few of us have turned out okay without Teletubbies and Dora. (Do you have to pronounce it "Dor-uh the Explor-uh" too, because otherwise is does not rhyme?!?!)