Outsourcing the Family

So, I stumbled across this very articulate article, which pretty much sums up my thoughts on the subject of daycare/preschool (really, any school). This, as I am researching preschool for Maya:

Here is another take on the lessons our day care center child may absorb: Her learning and play, her growth and development, need to be structured and facilitated by professionals. There are no mentors for her, nor are there any young ones that she can in turn help usher through the months and years. She will not get a sense of her intrinsic worth as a member of a community that has a reason for being and a set of daily tasks that have varying degrees of meaningfulness, and that incorporates her at whatever developmental stage she might be, provides a variety of models for her, and invests her with a sense of the rhythms of everyday life. Instead, she gets the rather profound message that her role is to be entertained (educated, enriched, etc.) until someone picks her up and takes her home for some quality time. The lesson is an early one in consumption: She may be missing out on finding meaning in organic relationships but she can always come into the day care to consume some stimulation and entertainment instead.

Furthermore, she learns about class position and hierarchy. Rather than absorb the needs and values and cultural norms of her community, she integrates herself into an institution—learning to please the caregivers, compete with her peers for attention, divvy her day into structured activities, accept the rules and guidance of the authority figures, and mark time by her movement from the infant room to the toddler room and on to the pre-school room. Just as the U.S. educational system produces young adults schooled to take their place among the powerful, or in the office, the factory, the service sector, or the permanent underclass, so early childhood education will help produce the workers we need. Yes, some day cares promote cognitive development, teach positive social skills, and empower young minds, but you can be sure that class position is a key determinant of who learns what.

The author suggests the alternative of home-based care, not exclusively by mom’s: but dad, extended family and friends too. You know, COMMUNITY care. Until now, I’ve been blessed with home based care for Maya between myself, her grandma, and a friend with a four-year old boy. Now, I am called to return to more hands on work at Dandelion and other special projects while my friend heads off on a year-long adventure in November. Grandma is out of town indefinitely.

I can’t do it by myself, and I don’t beat myself up for that. Yet I do worry about outsourcing Maya’s care away from the home while also recognizing that bringing Maya to work with me as a three year old is not the best solution either. At least not in this paradigm where she is the only kid being brought to work (and I am lucky to have a business that is very vibrant and diverse and a great example of the kind of place I would be proud of her to work someday, unlike, say in an office on Wall Street or god forbid a BigAg lobbyist or something twisted like that). If most people brought their kids to work in our community, and children were more integrated into the workplace, that might work better as we would create space for them. While she would have many chances to interact with adults at the cafe, she needs and desires relationships with babies, kids, teens and elders too. You know, the VILLAGE, the one it takes to raise a kid, the one that has been dismantled, right along with families and tribes in this long slide from a creative existence (by that I mean, each person creates/produces food, clothing, household goods, equipment, art, music) to a consumer existence where all those things are “outsourced” to other people, like childcare.

But it’s not about just mom staying at home in isolation from the rest of society either in order to raise my child. Where’s dad? At the office. Where’s grandma? In the nursing home. Where are all the people, for goodness sake? Everybody is busy earning money to afford someone else to take care of each other.

First, men were enticed to leave their homes for war, then jobs “in town.”

Then, women said, “Hey you can’t leave me here, I want in on that too!”

For a time grandparents took over the role of parents, but now everyone has scattered across the country in pursuit of a better opportunity and grandma is no longer next door.  Now that mom and dad are at work, and grandma is in a nursing home, children as early as six weeks are forced to leave their homes and families as well.

Okay, it’s past two in the morning and I must end rant which is only half thought through. Sigh.

How to Bore the Children by Charles Eisenstein

“Here is how to make a child bored: first and foremost, keep him indoors so that the infinitude of nature, its endless variation and chaotic messiness is replaced by a finite, orderly, predictable realm. Second, through television and video games, habituate him to intense stimuli so that everything else seems boring by comparison. Third, eliminate as much as possible any unstructured time with other children, so that he loses his capacity for creative play and needs entertainment instead. Fourth, shorten his attention span with fast-paced programming, dumbed-down books, and frequent interruptions of his play. Fifth, hover over him whenever possible to stunt his self-trust and make him dependent on outside stimulation. Sixth, hurry him from activity to activity to create anxiety about time and eliminate the easy sense of timelessness native to the young.” Read Entire Article Here

After reading this article, I am reminded how I think the urge to shop/consume is a poor substitute for our urge to create. When I feel like shopping, I get out my craft basket or make a meal or write. The desire to shop disappears every single time. The author of this article also wrote one of my favorite heavy books, the Ascent of Humanity and I am currently reading his new release, Sacred Economics. He will be my guest on Front Porch Radio next wednesday. Here are more thoughts on children & education in a chapter called Back to Play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Babies, the movie

So, I went to opening night of Babies, and unlike the Weekly I give it four stars, I would give it five if they had shown more of the births.

First, a synopsis of the film:  Babies simultaneously follows four babies around the world – from birth to first steps. The children are: Ponijao, who lives with her family in Namibia; Bayar, who resides with his family in Mongolia, ; Mari, who lives with her family in Tokyo, Japan; and Hattie, who resides with her family in the United States, in San Francisco. It’s kinda like Baraka, showcasing different cultures and their customs side by side and, like Baraka, I think this is one to watch over and over to assimilate.  (OMG, I just found that the Baraka creators are doing one on birth, rebirth & death called Samasara, due out in 2011 – awesome!!!)  Most first time viewers, especially non-parents, might think it a cute and charming film and get a vague sense that there’s something important being revealed here, and indeed there is.

I have to mention that not even five minutes into the film, a dude sitting several rows in front of me, whipped around all annoyed at Maya’s sweet excitement she was exhibiting over the film. She was not crying or being loud, just kinda babbling and grunting her approval. He ran out of the theater and came in moments later followed by a movie staffer, who came in to check the scene out and had wisdom to leave it alone. The moment she started to get fussy a bit later on, I took her and calmed her down so no one would be affected, but I thought it was a bit short sighted of this gentleman to come to a movie about babies and get in a huff about sweet sounds when the movie was littered with a good bit of crying and other other baby noises. I hope his lady friend does not sleep with him tonight.

Anywho…

As a new mom who is instinctively uncomfortable with books, toys, hand sanitizer, tv, baby food, bouncers and a lot of the other trappings of the modern day parent, I’ve looked to the wisdom of indigenous cultures whose children seem happy & whole to challenge the assumptions my culture has ingrained in me about parenting and children.

Go see this film. It’s an important study on degree of connection/separation, depending on the kind of lens you view things through. It compels us to question our assumptions of what’s best for babies and ourselves. It’s a perfect companion to my new favorite book, Ascent of Humanity.

The most connected baby is also the happiest & brightest – it’s hard to separate her from her family or environment, as it all blends together like one complete system. The more material goods and modern technology are introduced, the less each baby has an opportunity to connect and engage with people, animals and nature and the more confusion, stress and crying occur. I think it’s also interesting to note that the most connected baby has no involved adult males, but the least connected baby has more contact with her dad than her mom.

After you go see the movie, please come back here and add your comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I know I came home and immediately had the urge to purge my entire house of things and started dreaming of rolling in the dirt with Maya.

Lessons 1-20 From Maya

  1. Take Naps
  2. Eat When You Want, Stop When You Are Done
  3. Be Curious
  4. Look To Your Mother for Guidance
  5. Show No Fear, But Exhibit Some Caution As You Learn About Dangers in the World
  6. Move Your Body Any Which Way You Want
  7. Laugh Often
  8. Celebrate The Little Things
  9. Wake Up With a Smile
  10. Enjoy the Moment
  11. Go Outside, Be in Kinship with all Living Things
  12. Be Fascinated by Light & Sound, Fully Experience a Soft Breeze
  13. Explore
  14. Learn by Doing
  15. Express Yourself – If you don’t cry, how will others know there is something wrong?
  16. Know no shame, harbor no resentment.
  17. Make people earn your love & affection, don’t just give it out without due consideration.
  18. Once they’ve earned it, love them with laughter.
  19. Cuddle and hug and kiss the ones you’re closest to often.
  20. Play

Children Educate Themselves III: The Wisdom of Hunter-Gatherers | Psychology Today

For hundreds of thousands of years, up until the time when agriculture was invented (a mere 10,000 years ago), we were all hunter-gatherers. Our human instincts, including all of the instinctive means by which we learn, came about in the context of that way of life. And so it is natural that in this series on children’s instinctive ways of educating themselves I should ask: How do hunter-gatherer children learn what they need to know to become effective adults within their culture

Read More: Children Educate Themselves III: The Wisdom of Hunter-Gatherers | Psychology Today.

For Amber

Amber, my soul sister & owner of Shine On Yoga keeps yabbering on and on about the psoas muscle. What the heck is a psoas muscle, you ask? I’m not quiet sure, but apparently I shouldn’t interfere with it by encouraging Maya to walk (or stand) prematurely. Now, I claim Maya initiated standing all on her own, and believe you me, I’m all about having mobility take it’s sweet time. She’s been holding her head up since she busted into this world, was sitting pretty at five months and now at six and a half has plenty of floor time to start crawling, which hasn’t quiet taken hold, but looks as if it could at any moment. But homeskillet reaches up and WANTS to stand, so I follow her cues (as if on cue, she just interrupted this post for just this reason) and lo and behold if she didn’t take a few steps. I instinctively just kinda held her shoulders or trunk loosely, sometimes her arms, but always at their natural level so she could find her center as naturally as possible and she takes these big ole strides with confidence like she knows what she’s doing. Like a proud mama, I was showing this off to Amber, when, I got the psoas speech. It went something like this. Since I trust Amber with all things related to the body (and most other stuff too) I think I’ll lay off the supported walking for a bit. If Maya lets me.

Meet the Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes — YES! Magazine

Yes!!!! The article I’ve been waiting for, from my most favoritest magazine – aptly titled, “Yes!” I had no idea there was a name for the movement I yearned for. Radical Homemakers. I like it!

“Long before we could pronounce Betty Friedan’s last name, Americans from my generation felt her impact. Many of us born in the mid-1970s learned from our parents and our teachers that women no longer needed to stay home, that there were professional opportunities awaiting us. In my own school experience, homemaking, like farming, gained a reputation as a vocation for the scholastically impaired. Those of us with academic promise learned that we could do whatever we put our minds to, whether it was conquering the world or saving the world. I was personally interested in saving the world. That path eventually led me to conclude that homemaking would play a major role toward achieving that goal.”

Read the whole article:  Meet the Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes — YES! Magazine.

Two Million Angry Moms and One Sociologist: A Review of Free for All

Early in Free for All: Fixing School Food in America (University of California Press, 2010) former Texas Agriculture Secretary Susan Coombs declares that, “it will take 2 million angry moms to change school food.” Based on what we now know of the dreary state of our children’s cafeteria fare, there must be at least that many mamas, as well as a good number of papas who are ready to storm the barricades. Fortunately for them and America’s 55 million students who gulp down something resembling a meal every school day, they’ve been joined by Hunter College sociologist Janet Poppendieck who gives us the best reasons yet for unconditional school food reform.

Read the Review here: Civil Eats » Blog Archive » Two Million Angry Moms and One Sociologist: A Review of Free for All.

‘Motherhood Politics’ Hijacked Healthcare Debate | RHRealityCheck.org

‘Motherhood Politics’ Hijacked Healthcare Debate | RHRealityCheck.org

I was just thinking this: “I don’t think it’s a “who” but a how many of us are willing to say this. Motherhood is sacred. How many of us are willing to get out and say this is not at all about abortion. This is about whether we’re going to be mothers. For men to understand this all of us need to join in on it. Too much of the rhetoric is about abortion and not enough about women and our roles in this country. And we better get off of it or we’re not going to have a country left.”

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