Perspectives by Rev. Feras Chamas

 

Just when I thought I had something to teach her….

By the beginning of this year we (as a family) received a very special gift; a baby girl we named Michelle. By all means, she is a God-sent beautiful present to all of us.

We already have two girls 10 and 13 years old. So, it has been a while since we’ve last been involved with tiny one-piece outfits, diapers, formulas…the whole nine yards. In the last three years we were more into books, sports equipment, fashion accessories and electronics. Lucky us, we have the two worlds under one roof now… 

Michelle is almost five months old today. It’s the time when she can sit upright for longer periods of time, try to roll over from her back to her tummy, make more voices and pull objects (or hair – not mine) closer and pick them up in the palm of her hand then move them from one hand to the other. But more importantly, she is more alert and interactive now. It’s an amazing thing to watch her grow every day.

As I did with her two older sisters, by this time I start to investigate some objects and behaviours that can encourage her sensual, mental & emotional development and help build her focus and attention span. Always believed that the earlier and more intentional parents are about their children’s growth, the better abilities they accumulate. In this time and age, they have lots to learn even before they are teenagers. 

Last evening, after a dear dark-skin friend paid us a visit, my oldest girl asked if Michelle is able to tell the difference between dark and light skin people.

I was quick and nervous with my answer: “she can tell the difference in color, but this is the only difference she makes.” 

Suddenly, it felt like she is advantaged with the many things she doesn’t know compared to adults. The question made me think if a little baby like mine has something to teach us. It made me consider how informative babies and little children’s ignorance can be to our culture. 

Babies could see color from birth. When they are five months old, babies can distinguish between similar bold colors, though they would have difficulty distinguishing similar tones, such as red and orange. Lots has been written about baby’s sensory development and we can always learn more about it from different sources. 

But, there is another set of questions about color that are not as easy to answer. For example: Why for decades we read into different skin color more than we’re supposed to read? How did we learn that? How come it stayed with us for a long time before it was challenged? 

In fact, the color issue triggered all kinds of things that we would have been better off had we not learned them.

As adults, money has a central place in our life. Babies don’t believe that life’s biggest issue is money or how much we have of it.

Babies don’t judge people by the way they dress, look or talk; how come we try to fit people in one of the categories we have in our minds seconds after we first meet them?

Little babies are dependant creatures (some people believe this is the very first thing babies are aware of). This is why it’s very soothing for a baby to touch his /her mother’s skin. Dependency is a very early experience in our life, and a late one as well (we are dependent again when we’re seniors. 

Who could convince us otherwise in between? How could we forget this early lesson?      

Thankfully, for babies, beauty has nothing to do with waist size. If not so, feeding time could have been even more difficult. And it has also nothing to do with the way our faces look.

Babies smile at their moms when they wake up in the middle of the night with no makeup and with tiered eyes. They love their smell without any deodorant or perfume. Why did we let commercial standards define beauty for us?      

As adults, we need to put different hats per day to achieve our tasks and duties. Sometimes we become so good at it that role playing can make us put on masks and not only hats. The end result can be that we will need a historian to rediscover the “original us”.

Transparency is innate to babies. They might not be able to tell you what they want, but they definitely depend on being who they are to let you know what they need so you can help them.

Why did environment conquer some of our innate qualities? Why do we still allow it to do so?

In fact, so many questions come to mind. At the end of the day you start to wonder if we need to teach new born babies and little children what we know, or we need to take a step in their direction and start the process of unlearning many things that we have picked up along our trip in this life.

I can’t help it at this point not to remember an old teacher who used to say to his disciples: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 (NIV) 

All this happened just when I thought I had something to teach her….

 

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