Monday, September 6, 2010


We watched the documentary "Babies" tonight.  It follows the early years of 4 babies around the world; Japan, Mongolia, Africa, and of course, the US. It proves that babies will be babies, kids will be kids, and siblings will be siblings, no matter where in the world they live. The opening scene is of two African babies playing with rocks and a plastic water bottle. Within minutes they are hitting each other and the younger brother bites the older one. The contrast of the scenes are anything but subtle leaving me feeling somewhat embarrassed to be American (Although the Japanese weren't too far off from the Americans.) How should I feel after seeing the baby American sitting in baby music class(not that my babies didn't take baby music, because they did) to then pan back to the little African licking up water from a mud puddle only to be joined  by his laughing brother and the Mongolian boys crawling around with the cattle and sheep giggling and smiling? Embarrassed is the only word that comes to mind.

This brings me back to the mango and ginger root story Andy and I like to tell. We traveled to an island called Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) when I was about 8 weeks pregnant with Adi. Being newly pregnant with our first child we were quickly captivated by a little boy we met there. He must have been around 8 months old and was walking.  The only toys we ever saw him play with were a mango and a ginger root. He was an obviously happy child and obviously well developed seeing as he was walking well before the norm. 

On our return back to the states we began spreading the word that Baby Einstein videos were not, after all, the only way we can have smart babies. Who would have though? Nature, love, attention, a few objects to hold in the hand, that is all our babies needed!  Let me quickly say that our children do own more than a bowl of fruit to play with, not that it hasn't crossed my mind to leave them with nothing but apples as I wade through princess dolls and singing dump trucks.  In fact I am embarrassed with the amount of things that they  own.  The fact of the matter is, we BUY them these things. It makes them happy and in return we are happy. Then the new shinny toy gets swept under the couch or lost on the floor of the car  and forgotten by the happy child.  The child is still happy, and we buy them MORE.
Its a vicious cycle. One that I think I'm not alone in. We fight it but we lose, a lot.
But when it is all said and done, my babies are most like the....drum roll please.....Africans. And not just because 50% of them are African, but because they are happiest when left alone outside with unlimited dirt and rocks!! Where ever we go, they find the rocks. The rocks usually come home with us.  And in lieu of sand, our sand box is filled with rocks.  


  1. I have a vivid memory of our return visit to the care center when one of the boys came running up to me so proud b/c he had used some old plastic thing & somehow put rocks in & folded it over to make like a rattle/shaker. Makes you wonder if all these things that are designed to entertain our children don't thwart their creativity??? As my older kids reminisce about times together, it never involves toys, but the trips to the creek for exploring evoke many memories. Good food for thought...thanks, Jane! :o)

  2. Great post about that movie. It sparked many of the same thoughts with me as well. Well said!

  3. Great post Jane and a great topic.

    And I really agree with you that being an acquisitional person is offensive. But disordered desire for things can exist in the poorest nations too. There are people who are very acquisitional in their hearts as well as people who are very detached from things in their hearts. It is also true that in America there are acquisitional people but there are also people who practice being detached from the need to acquire things. I think it's that in the poorest nations it is harder to be a really conspicuous consumer like it is here in America. There were times that and places where acquiring a family's daily needs was Work that was done by the adults now it is so often the case that shopping isn't about the work of aquiring daily needs but about pleasure and entertainment. That's just gross! And even worse to see children being trained to be little shoppers or little consumers. Your thoughts of the mango and the ginger root are good ones and are worth the constant struggle to live - just see that the kids don't get too attached to either the ginger root or the mangos. They gotta share.