My husband and I enjoyed a long-overdue date night this weekend. Iron Man was the most exciting movie on the list, but we promised my mother we'd see it with her for Mother's Day, so we settled on Babies. This film, a documentary about children being raised in different countries around the world, completely changed my view of child-rearing.
*Spoiler Alert - I'm going to tell a few stories from the movie in this blog, so if you're a freak about being surprised about every little detail, read it anyway 'cuz it's super cute.*
A baby in Mongolia was born in a "hospital". A few days later, he was wrapped in a blanket, a stiff piece of canvas, and tightly tied up with some loose piece of fabric. The mother boarded the back of a mo-ped and zoomed back to her village. This baby's entire story included video of him almost exclusively alone. Mom was outside farming and caring for the animals much of the day, so the baby was left to learn and grow alone for hours at a time. He played with chickens, laid on goats, and discovered a roll of paper towels. The point? HE WAS FINE. As compared to the baby profiled in San Francisco, (you know the one: Mommy and Me groups, 70 books a day, Baby Yoga, ridiculous amounts of enunciation), this Mongolian baby actually seemed happier! Babies are stimulated by whatever is in their environments. They don't need a bouncer, a play yard, and a swing. This movie proved it for me. Pacifiers? The Mongolian baby used his foot to pacify himself, which turned out to be a very exciting scene in the movie. Toys? The African Baby played with rocks (and occasionally ate them). Diapers? One baby pooped on his mom's leg and she wiped it off with a corn cob. NO JOKE. The San Francisco baby couldn't say boo without 20 people shouting, "HOW HIGH?!" And when she got angry because she didn't want to sing the damn song mommy was forcing her to learn and hit her in the face, mom pulled out the "No Hitting" book. The kid was barely a year old.
I realize we have disposable diapers in this country and we teach our children to read because it's necessary in our culture, but I feel much less pressure to learn the latest baby sign language techniques or while deciding which bottles to buy. The truth is, barring any interference from spoiling grandparents, my kid is going to be fine without all the stuff, all the latest and greatest. And if my dogs lick my boy directly in his mouth? I'm guessing he'll still make it to college.
This isn't to say I'm not registering. I registered the hell out of Target's website. I mean, I'm still American.