Friday, March 03, 2006

So much to learn, so much to unlearn

A word for wrinklies who thought they were keeping up moderately well with today’s rampant technology; advances in IT and the internet; and personal entertainment devices beginning with ‘i’ or other italics. (Is that why Tiscali is its anagram?) And who may even be relieved at being able to free up their brain cells from having to remember the intricacies of programming in numeric code, or such even more cutting-edge tools as BASIC and COBOL.
But let me tell you: when it comes to raising children, you’ve forgotten just about all you ever knew – and such knowledge as you do retain is Neanderthal.
Has the past quarter of a century selectively erased all that expertise? Or has the technology of child-rearing advanced so far in this period that your methods are now obsolete?
You know what I’m talking about: ‘Don’t let her go near the top of the stairs, Dad – she might fall down them’.
‘Oh, is that - gravity? Gee - thanks for telling me about that son. We never had to contend with that when you were a baby. It’s a miracle you survived.’

Well actually, we have to admit that the technology of child-raising has moved along. When my kids were babies, the baby mavens said we had to lay them down on their stomachs.
I remember I did have trouble accepting this at the time. We were never given any medical justification, but logically it seemed crazy – after all, you weren’t supposed to give children cling-film to play with lest they suffocate themselves, but you were positively encouraged to put them to sleep with their spongy little nose in direct contact with any type of surface with the weight of their heads on top of it.
Some women who adopted this technique were convicted of murder; some of them on the evidence of the same highly respected paediatricians who had recommended the practice.
Then, a few years ago, the baby gurus made, literally, a 180-degree turn: babies should be laid on their backs.
The incidence of the strange phenomenon that came to be known as ‘cot death’ plummeted and the change was trumpeted as a triumph for medical science. And the mothers were released from jail and allowed to join their families – if they had any families left. And the expert paediatrician, although a laughing stock, was cleared to continue to practise. And, presumably, if called, to give expert evidence.
So maybe we should admit it: we don’t know beans about kids.
But I would like to hang on to gravity.

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