Monday, May 27, 2013

Protect Babies, but Also Encourage Them

Radiating goodness
Has anyone else noticed that uncanny thing babies give off that can fill a room and trigger spontaneous facial reactions among folks? I’m not talking about natural aromatic emissions. Instead, I’m referring to that contagious, feel-good energy infants emit that causes adults to put their collective troubles on pause, if only for a moment.

It’s that agreeable cocktail of joy we all have experienced in babies at one time or another, which has to potential to affect even the most crotchety of us. That’s if we allow it. It’s as if a baby’s life force somehow transmits a kind of healing property that helps boost our sense of well-being. Maybe it’s a chemical they give off that triggers the release of our endorphins or whatever. In any case, that special something can instill us with a certain something that envelopes and fills us, at least temporarily, with a satisfying calmness. There’s more.

Ever take the time to watch a baby, really observe one to try and get into its fuzzy little head? If she’s being raised in a safe and nurturing environment, she’ll tend to project a certain fascination about simply being. Talk about living in the moment. When they’re old enough, that fascination gives way to a marked desire to more actively explore their world. This can be problematic when they learn to how to churn their tiny arms and legs and crawl, but I digress.
Love in the palm of your hand

Theirs is a world of wonder and delight. It’s been a while since I was that age but from what I observe, babies seem curious about everything. Unlike adults, unexpected diversions seem welcome, and from moment to moment they are noticing things. People, places, plants, animals, sights sounds – the list is endless and so is their inquisitiveness. It’s boundless. That is until something unfortunate happens, if we’re not careful. Some say if we’re too careful.

Too many times among too many babies their curiosity is bridled. It’s suppressed for their own good, I’ve heard some adults explain. Sure, as grown-ups we’ve learned there are certain realities in this world – dangers that must be kept at arm’s length for the sake of baby’s safety. But must it also be at the expense of an infant’s emerging marvel about the world? At the cost of their sense of independence? Does keeping baby on a short leash enhance their quality of life and potential? Or does it hinder it?

Making the right connections
For that matter, when we as adults move through the world, why must it be in so guarded a way that we often miss certain pleasures? Effortless experiences, like tossing a nod to a passerby for no reason other than to acknowledge their existence? Or chucking a scrap of paper in the trash, just so that someone else doesn’t have to.  Or watching a baby stare with wonder at any object they’ve never seen before. Simple stuff.

Looking for Batman
This all reminds me of a few weeks ago when I saw my first robins of the season foraging in the yard. I stood there for a minute pondering how they knew when the spring weather was warm enough for them to return? And what hidden place in my yard or the next did they make their nest for their soon-to-be hatchlings? Then my cell phone rang and I was back on the clock.

I wonder if this stifling of babies on the part of the adults has more to do with our own states of mind rather than the supposed welfare of infants? Sure our job is to protect them. But shouldn’t part of that role also be to keep babies wanting to learn about their world?

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