Tuesday, January 20, 2015. Big news for today? The grandson I care for weekdays turns 2 1/2 today! I have just a few quiet moments before he is dropped off here this morning. I am thinking about what he would be missing throughout his day if he were to go to a big daycare center rather than to my little apartment. He is learning to talk remarkably fast, and a big part of this process for him is that he has someone who loves him to LISTEN to what he says!
Although it can be totally exhausting to listen to a little one chatter nonstop all day long, and although his care continually interrupts my own thoughts all day long, and although this intense level of caring for little people involves important sacrifices of personal “wants,” I question how much is going to be changed for these new generations because so few adults are spending this kind of time with new little humans – at least in “mainstream” America today.
Relatively speaking he doesn’t yet have very many words, but that makes what words he does have at his command treasures beyond measure as he uses them to express his SELF to an attachment person as he “comes into the world.” I do a lot of filling in the blanks and reading between the lines — or between his words, actually. I can hear him tell me now what he is thinking about as thoughts come through his mind increasingly connected to words. I know enough about his personal life at home to make important connections.
He told me yesterday mommy covers him with a blanket when he goes to sleep at night.
He/we were able to share thoughts that communicated that Yogi the Bear eats sandwiches AND cake.
He told me he likes to play Candy Land with Mommy and that his daddy wears BIG socks and that he himself wears tiny socks because he has tiny feet.
These small interactions I have with my grandson happen in a grounded way as he follows me around doing what small things I can really accomplish here in this city small apartment in a day. He spends a lot of time in the room while I sew and I teach him all kinds of things through conversation and he teaches me in return.
He is BECOMING a person!
Not a system.
People. Are we “objects?” Are we part object and part something else? How do we learn WHAT we are beginning from our birth? WHO we are?
In modern mainstream life we are breaking natural bonds that connect us to one another and hence to our self as we break our bonds with the natural world we are a part of. I learned so much in the seven years I lived among the “poor” people along the Mexican border in southeastern Arizona. Children were raised most of the time by older children, yet adults were continually around to interact in loving ways with all of them. They showed me what being a part of a social species is REALLY about.
In contrast among families with so many working mothers children are up in the morning and out the door from the time they are born, placed for “care” in what I still call “day orphanages” while parents are working. Night brings a frantic scurrying rush of pick-the-kids-up, race home, maybe eat a meal, have “loving times” and then off to bed. Weekends? No less frantic.
Where are the ongoing moment-to-moment meaningful interactions between little people and ANY ONE?
Where is the loving, consistent and continual CARE giving to these blossoming little ones? Who notices them? Who sees and listens to them and then gives back to them in their real-time instants of life what they need to become fully social beings?
I bring all of this up this morning not only because of what I am anticipating for my day, but also because of an article I spent a little time with last night. It would take me being able to print this article (I do not have a printer) and at least two hours of concentrated thinking for me to more fully understand the parameters of what this research is about, but what thoughts I do have from a cursory consideration of its contents is that there is both a connection and a separation between these two activities in the human brain: empathizing and systematizing.
And, yes, autism is mentioned in this article – a seemingly “mysterious” condition whose increase in prevalence should VASTLY concern everyone. This information begs the question within me, “How do we know the difference between an object and a person?
(I just saw another bed bug racing toward me at 8 am this morning as I sat at this computer. I am so NOT a happy camper!! As I see it I am paying a very high price to be here in this place doing what I am doing right now. I am eager to leave come the end of August no matter HOW much I am going to miss my family! I have my limits and they are being tested!)
A decade ago when I began my study of developmental neuroscience (thanks to the internet!) I read articles that stated human mirror neurons are not involved in empathy processes. I am not going to thoroughly scour the newest research for what “they” are finding out now, although this article contains some of that information. I am thinking intuitively, and that kind of thinking for all of us is LIVING thinking that comes from our WHOLE self, not just from some intellectually (supposedly) informed “logical” part of our brain.
Little people especially under the age of five are not designed by nature to grow into whole (empathizing) people by being immersed in a universe of their same-age peers. In mainstream culture when children are packed off to daycare during most of their waking early life they are being treated as objects that could just as well be packed into a suitcase and delivered somewhere — like a suit of clothes. Children are MORE than the clothes they are wearing?
Are we more than what our mirror neurons SEE in the world as they activate matching “systems” thinking inside our heads? Are little people more than “objects” to be hauled here and there, put here and there, and hauled back again?
Those kinds of actions relate to “systems” thinking. Which adults actually CARE or even KNOW how their little people FEEL about the lives they are being forced to live long before they have any language to TALK about themselves in the world? Who is taking the time to LISTEN to them even when their words begin to appear?
Along the border all the children comingled with one another, the older taking care of the younger because that’s what, in their universe, people do. They are in community. All ages. Adults nearby. When the older children are at school the adults spend their days together, as well. They have VERY little money. That part of their system is only marginally important. They are important to one another.
What a concept.
My grandson just arrived. I need to go pay attention….
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