The Illusion of Permanence in Babies


The picture on the right is of Vivian, over two-and-a-half years ago.

Nora is really taking to her solid food these days. Yesterday, we had lasagna, and thanks to a little device known as a food mill, which mashes up whatever solid food on your plate into mush nearly-toothless kids can eat, she was able to share our meal.

The girl is closing in on eight months. She is learning to crawl, and she is showing an enthusiasm for food that Vivian never did (although she too made good use of the food mill). Vivian, on the other hand, can now drink out of a cup, and can use a fork, though not yet a knife.

I mention this because of how cluttered our cupboards are.

You know, we have a huge industry surrounding our infant kids. Playtex and other tampon manufacturers offer baby bottles. They're various cereals and mashed foods you can buy in little jars. And the clothes -- oh, the clothes!

Looking at all these things, which can take up whole aisles at your Shoppers Drug Mart or Zellers, you could be forgiven that you're about to engage in an investment that will rival putting your kids through college. But Nora is closing in on eight months, and can be fed with a fork -- assuming you're careful. We have several boxes of rice and oat cereal that we're never going to use now that Nora delights in lasagna and spaghetti -- and these were gifts from neighbours across the street whose infant daughter outgrew her infant food.

And the clothes? Well, fortunately, we wised up pretty quickly. We've not had to spend nearly as much as we would have if we'd had to buy everything we now own. Instead, thanks to gifts from friends, family and neighbours with quickly growing children, we have most of what we need to clothe my two daughters. Indeed, a cycle has started: Vivian's first clothes were hand-me-downs from Natalia across the street. These, in turn, are being handed off to Nora, and once Nora outgrows these, back they'll go into a garbage bag, likely to be handed out to the next needy parent we find.

And yet there is an insidious consumer industry out there praying on our love of our kids and how cute babies are, isn't there? The unwritten message as you pass the little itty-bitty cups and forks and spoons and pacifiers is, go on: treat your child. Don't hold back. She's worth it, isn't she? Or are you a Bad Parent?

It may or may not be true that it takes a village to raise a child. However, a village could probably clothe all the babies in the village born within a five year span with a single set of jumpers. The rest is just useless frippery that will be forgotten before you know it.

Unlike diapers, which a part of me suspects may be around forever.

Speaking of the passage of time, check out this ancient astronomical star clock reconstructed by a museum curator:

Link courtesy Christopher Moore.

blog comments powered by Disqus