Big Babies, A Child’s Innocence, Race, War, and Spring: 7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 25)

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

—1—

Giganto Baby #3

Because my due date is one whole day after my 35th birthday, I get to be classified with that lovely “Advanced Maternal Age” label for the whole of this pregnancy. (Seriously! One day!) The burdens/bonuses (depending how you look at it) of the AMA label include a handful of extra sonograms. I had one yesterday.

As I knew they would, the technician and doctor found that my baby is ginormous. At 32 weeks gestation, the kiddo is already estimated to weigh 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Now, I know that sonos can be well off when it comes to weight, but I’m inclined to believe this one: (1) because the estimate jives with the weights of my other two giganto babies, (2) because – just like my previous two pregnancies – my uterus has been consistently measuring ahead, and (3) because the sono estimates for my other two boys were both spot-on.

So, surprise, surprise, it looks like I’m in for another big one. Which is unlikely, of course, to be surprising at all to anyone who has had the honor/burden of lifting my 30-pound two-year-old or my 40-pound three-year-old.

Just… please, Lord, let me be able to deliver this kid safely! My second son, who came ten days early and weighed in at 8 pounds, 15 ounces, got stuck on his way out. We had a scary few minutes there when his heart rate was dropping and everyone was scrambling to get him out as soon! as! possible! If he had been any larger, I’m not sure we would have had such a good outcome.

So, Baby Boy, how about if, when you get to 8 and a half pounds or so, you decide that you’re ready to just come on out to play? I promise it’s nice out here. And I know a couple of other big boys who will be eager to meet you!

Giganto Baby #2 (Can't find one of #1 at the moment!)

Giganto Baby #2 (Can’t find one of #1 at the moment!)

—2—

Corresponding Giganto Belly

Just shy of 33 weeks

Just shy of 33 weeks. Excuse the blurriness — really old mirror and really inadequate camera on my Android.

—3—

Open Mind of a Child

My friend Krista, whom I’ve mentioned before, wrote a lovely blog post yesterday on her recent visit to the pool with her five-year-old daughter. Her daughter had brought a doll with her, which she proceeded to baptize in the baby pool. Krista writes:

Most of us recognize the story from the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus urges his disciples to bring the children to him, because “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” It is a story that tends to be linked to the idea that what is most valuable in children is their innocence and unworldliness. It seems to imply that children, in their dearth of experience, are better able to absorb the teachings of faith, and indeed of the world around them. I don’t believe that this is a strictly religious way of thinking. There is a common tendency to think of children as blank slates waiting to be written upon.

Children are certainly unworldly. There is necessarily an innocence to the way they approach their world. They have no basis of comparison. They have no prejudice. Their minds are open. They are open, but I don’t think they are waiting, passively, for us to shape them.

If I have learned anything about children and the way they approach life, it is that they do so through constant questioning and experimenting. They are endlessly pushing the boundaries of their universe. And these attributes apply equally to the way they understand faith and the way they process new facts.

When I think of my daughter, who is at that perfectly ripe age when the concepts of faith and fact are just coming within her intellectual grasp, I see nothing passive about her approach to the world. All I see is activity – a dynamic, unrestrained pursuit for more knowledge, a constant pushing and stretching of the limits of her understanding.

I hear her asking why, and no matter how thorough an answer I give, I hear her asking why again. I see her acting out, and re-enacting, what she is learning so that, through interpretation and experience, it becomes a part of who she is.

When I think of the idea that “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” I don’t see it as a calling to submissiveness or innocence. I see it as a calling for us to approach faith — and reason — like children do – with flexibility, enthusiasm, ceaseless questioning, and a mind with ever-expanding boundaries. Those are the best things that children have to offer the world, and we adults should not forget that.

It’s a beautiful post, which somehow also includes a totally appropriate reference to… farts. I kid you not. I hope you’ll stop on over to Krista’s to read the rest of it.

—4—

Discovering Race

Reading Krista’s post, especially the following words: “Children are certainly unworldly. There is necessarily an innocence to the way they approach their world. They have no basis of comparison. They have no prejudice. Their minds are open.” I was reminded of one of the many half-written posts I’ve got sitting on my computer.

This particular one is on race. That oh-so-touchy, oh-so-important issue that I feel I have to get just right. Despite multiple re-writes and lots of hours, it’s not, yet, just right.

But its beginning, the only part of the piece to stay constant through all my re-writes, is illuminated, I think, by Krista’s words. (To clarify, her words are above. The following are my own.)

Not long ago, my three-year-old son pointed out to me that he and his brother, and me, and his father, all have “the same kind of skin.” We have light skin, he said. The implication being that there are people with skin that is other than ours.

His observation unsettled me a little. Is he so old, already, to be noticing such things?

A moment later, I was pacified by the recollection of reading recently (where did I read it?) that children start noticing race at the age of three. And I gave what I believe to be the appropriate response to his question: “Yes, in our family we all have light skin. Other people have different colors of skin, don’t they? It doesn’t matter, though. People are people. Sometimes our skin just looks a little different.”

Now, I don’t begrudge my son his curiosity or his interest in making observations. I wasn’t unsettled because his brain has registered a range of pigmentation. I was unsettled because with his observation, he’s on the cusp of inheriting the persistent, uncomfortable, even insidious burden of race.

The thought gives me a sinking feeling.

From my perspective – my white, middle-class, somewhat-southern, raised-in-a-diverse-community, now-living-in-a-decidedly-not-diverse-community perspective – I think race continues to divide and define our society more than we’d like to admit.

And I hate that. I hate the division. I hate the definition. I hate the not admitting. I hate that my boys’ background and skin color will place them in a camp that they bear no responsibility for constructing. I hate that the issue continues to hurt so many who likewise bear no responsibility for the camps they find themselves in. I hate that there’s no end in sight.

I know this is a gloomy little excerpt to be throwing in here, but at this point I don’t know when (if ever) I’ll take up the post again. Yet I thought this part of it was worth airing, especially if we’re already taking a moment to consider the world through the innocent, unworldly, unprejudiced, open mind of a child.

—5—

Neglect in Sarajevo

This is a fascinating series of photos of the abandoned sites of the 1984 Olympic Games in Sarajevo. It’s at once beautiful and sad and it gives me so much to reflect on.

Stripping away the historical context and the emotion that the context evokes, it’s just plain interesting to see how quickly nature takes back what was once its own. I live in the verdant Mid-Atlantic, where every patch of ground left untended for a short period of time will quickly turn to forest. The tiny backyard at our last, very suburban home, was evidence of that. Too many summers, occupied with graduate school (him), wedding planning (me), or new babies (both of us), we let (first his, then) our little patch of ground revert to its true jungle self. (Our poor neighbors!) Brennan always commented on how surprised his Minnesota family would be to see just how thickly and quickly our little forest grew. I always took secret comfort in it.

As I’ve mentioned before, my family has lived in this part of the country since the early 1600’s. In that span of time, of course, the changes made to the land have been nearly incalculable. Just in my own life, they’ve been obvious. In my grandparents’, they’ve been stunning. As I also mentioned in that post, I’ve mostly made peace with the fact that change happens and one can only control how one reacts to it. It’s better for me to see the good in the changes that have occurred, rather than resent them. But there remains a part of me that is grateful for the speed with which nature takes back its own. I am comforted by the fact that the land my family once worked is still there, hiding behind all the fancy new houses. If we humans were to step aside from it for a while, nature would quietly reassert itself.

Of course, there’s also a very human context to the Sarajevo photos, and that’s much more sobering to ponder. Less than ten years after the 1984 Olympic Games, the city that had been the center of the world’s attention for reasons of sporting excellence and international cooperation went on to capture the world’s attention for reasons far, far worse. From 1992 to 1996, Sarajevo suffered the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. Some 9,500-14,000 people were killed.

I can’t help but look at those pictures of encroaching trees, crumbling concrete, draping vines, and quiet little nooks of moss and think of the human cost that enabled them.

—6—

Unrest Today

Today, of course, there are other Sarajevos – cities and towns and countryside in places like Syria, the Central African Republic, Ukraine, Venezuela – where conflict is destroying lives and damaging families and communities. Let us keep the people of such places in prayer.

—7—

Spring Comes

I can’t go out on those sad notes. Right now the sun is emerging from the clouds (literally – I’m not trying to be poetic or anything) and the ice is melting. This morning a strange, haunting mist rose off the snow, filling the area with a fog that looked like smoke rising from fields and hollows. Yesterday morning everything was white; this afternoon we see grass and ivy and dirt. Soon, I know (I hope?) we’ll see green shoots making their way up. I am so ready for spring this year. (As I imagine most people in the eastern half of the country are!) We might not be there just yet, but Spring is coming. It is.

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Thanks, as always, to Jen for hosting 7 Quick Takes Friday. Stop on over to see the rest!

5 thoughts on “Big Babies, A Child’s Innocence, Race, War, and Spring: 7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 25)

  1. I love this post! Not because you mentioned me, but because of your perspectives in the following quick takes. I can’t wait to read your race post. It really is fascinating to observe kids as they develop awareness of people who are different. The beautiful thing is that they derive no meaning from racial differences other than the fact that one kid has dark brown skin and another has light brown skin. It’s no more relevant to them than the fact that John wore a blue shirt and Kelly wore a yellow dress. And of course, the sad thing is the knowledge that they will eventually lose that innocent perspective and eventually will grow up to be a part of a society burdened by racism that, as you so rightly say, they did nothing to create.

  2. That is a gorgeous picture, and it fits so well with your post! I second the motion for you to complete the race post.

    I’ll admit that when I read Krista’s response to her 3-year-old, my heart was filled with sadness. For selfish reasons really, because I remember being a child who was told that African Americans were criminals, who grew up in a house where N***** was spoken, who rarely met anyone middle class who wasn’t white. I am hopeful that fewer and fewer kids will grow up that way. Unfortunately no one is really color-blind, but it is encouraging to see parents raising their children with a better racial awareness.

    • Thank you! I may try to finish it at some point. It’s just one of those things that, no matter how genuine you are and how hard you try to be sensitive, it’s likely that someone will be offended or hurt by what you write. I suppose it’s okay to cause offense, but I’d like to avoid causing hurt if I possibly can. And — not that it matters — that response to the three-year-old was my own, not Krista’s. I thought maybe the way I introduced it might cause confusion! I just went in and made a quick edit to try to clarify.

      Also, I’m sorry for your own growing-up experience re: race. What a disservice such treatment does to a child, and potentially to those he or she later comes in contact with.

      • It probably had more to do with my adhd and less to do with your clarity of writing. :)

        In my opinion, the best thing that white women can do if talking about race is to be up-front about our own ignorance and privilege.

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