Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In the Twinkling of an Eye

Darwin has covered our obligation to blog about current events.

Simcha Fisher examines the need to find someone to blame as a way of maintaining the illusion that good people are able to control their lives.

Bearing has the best response of all:
True or false:

It is irresponsible and negligent for a parent to take a picture of his or her small child in public, especially at a crowded, dangerous place like the zoo. Every photograph of grinning, sticky-faced siblings, posing in front of the aquarium or the cat house, is evidence of the crime of child endangerment.


Well, let's think about what has to happen for a parent to take a photo of her child in public. First the parent has to let go of the child. She needs both hands to manipulate the camera or the smart phone. Then she has to step a few feet away -- maybe a dozen feet or more, certainly out of arms' reach. She has to take her eyes off her charges for long enough to select the proper settings or apps before finally locating them in the viewfinder. Once the picture is taken, she may pause to stow the camera away before returning and once again securing the child in a firm grip.

She lets go. She steps several feet away. She looks elsewhere. It is long enough.


I think we can extrapolate from the evidence (many small children at zoos, the existence of preschool educational programs at zoos) that it is widely believed (whatever some folks may think) that a zoo is a good place to take small children for a fun family outing. So to go so far as to say "well, of course you don't take a 3-y-o to a zoo, that's for older children" is, shall we say, OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM of thinking.

The notion that no reasonable parent would ever enter a situation where a 3-year-old might escape her notice long enough to get into serious trouble is a little more understandable, given the low amount of experience that many people have with the wide variety of three-year-olds. Most people only ever parent zero to two of them.

Some commenters who take a position closer to my own have been focusing on "It's not possible to keep your eyes on a three-year-old 100% of the time so they can't escape." I'd like to point out that we don't really WANT mothers (it's always mothers, isn't it) to do what would be necessary to prevent three-year-olds from escaping. Because we would have to do more than just watch them all the time. We would have to grip them all the time. That is why I began by having you think about picture-taking, how it is an utterly normal thing for parents of children to do at zoos, take their child's picture; and how the act of taking a picture contains within it all the possibility that allows for an escaping child.

There's this strange thing about children: they want to explore the world around them. They will pull and actively try to escape you. The zoos, along with science museums and other places that attract children, incidentally, have this odd feature (often, not always) -- they have exhibits here and there that seem to encourage children to explore the environment. "Please touch," they will have signs up for the petting zoo, or they will have fish tanks that are down near the eye level of toddlers, or they will have buttons to push and things like that. It seems almost as if the zoos.... EXPECT there to be three-year-olds with their parents, three-year-olds who are not buckled into strollers! I think the last few times I've been to the zoo I've even seen groups of preschoolers on a field trip, not with their parents, but with teachers and chaperones!

Life is unpredictable, and pivots in an instant. A dear friend of ours dropped dead of a heart attack on Saturday while mowing his lawn. He was 63, a year older than my mother, and had been a surrogate father and grandfather for us while we lived in Austin. Last weekend, his family did not expect that within the week, they would be attending his funeral.

On Sunday, a dear friend and mentor of mine lost her husband, age 66, to cancer of the esophagus, two days after she'd buried her mother. He had suffered for many years and was extremely ill, but last weekend my friend could not have expected to lose her mother and her husband within four days of each other.

Last weekend we had almost nothing planned for this weekend. We did not expect that Darwin and the two big girls would be making a sudden run down to Austin to attend one funeral while I take everyone else to Cincinnati to attend another. One hears it said that we are not promised tomorrow, but we're not even promised today. In most cases, it is a gift to fall asleep in the same world you woke up in.

Of your courtesy, please pray for the souls of Tim and Frank, and for their grieving widows, and for the children and grandchildren and friends they leave behind.

1 comment:

Michael said...

we went to Mass in a local cemetery Monday, and afterwards wandered among the graves. We paused a long while at the hundred-year-old obelisk with the names of a 15-year-old, six-year-old, and six-month-old on it. Was it perhaps a house fire? Then there was the children's section with more recent interments. It was a good opportunity to talk with our children that we know not the time nor place. And scapegoating does no good for the deceased, or the survivors, as in the case of the Cincinnati boy, Deo gratias.