07 October 2010

BABIES


Babies has just been released and I got a chance to see it this week when Netflix sent it to me. My mom and I watched it together amidst lunch at my house. I really enjoyed it. The film follows four babies from around the world from birth to one year, with a quick jump to three years at the very end. There is no dialogue. You hear parents' voices now and then, quietly in the background, but it's hardly noticeable as you watch the babies- and their siblings- interact with their world.
It's fascinating to see how babies are raised around the world. Bayar from Mongolia is left on his own for hours at a time- sometimes tied by a string to a bedpost to keep him from wandering off, other times crawling across the hills around his hut in the countryside. In Namibia, Ponijao eats dirt, bugs, grabs at his brother's private parts, and his mother doesn't bat an eye. Mari in Tokyo has all the latest toys and travels in a high-end MacLaren stroller. Hattie travels in a bike buggie around San Francisco with her parents. All four children harass the docile and complacent pets in their households. Even the parents' behavior is interesting. Bayar's mom hops on a motorcycle to get home just after giving birth. Ponijao poops on his mother's knee as an infant; she rubs the stool away with a corn husk and feeds two kids from her poor dangling breasts. (Why many African tribes never thought of an apparatus to offer breast support is beyond me. I'm not talking modesty, I'm talking comfort! But that's another story.) Mari's mother takes her to Mommy and Me classes while Dad lets her play with CDs on the floor while he works.
Besides the entertainment value of watching these babies in their environment, I was very aware of the lesson to be learned here, for myself and other young mothers living in the US. Everywhere I turn, there are products and equipment for raising a baby, much of it touted as essential for raising a happy, healthy, and safe baby. But all of this junk is not necessary. It is up to us to decide what we want to use and do, it is not up to our relatives and the retail stores.
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Last night Ray and I attended an "Infant Care" class, 3 hours taught by a 20-year pediatric nurse practitioner. She talked about taking baby home, breastfeeding, formula feeding, bathing, diapering, identifying and treating run-of-the-mill baby ailments. At the beginning she went over a list of the minimum baby essentials, prefacing that you don't need all the gizmos that are on the market. I loved that she said this. I don't want every piece of kid paraphenalia out there- we have a small house! Starting out giving the firstborn everything sets a bad standard for their life and the life of their siblings IMHO. Not to mention tripping over all the stuff as I try to make my way through the day with no sleep.
The teacher gave a lot of advice and instruction, and I intend to heed much of it and ignore some of it too.

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