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Nature VS. nourture

May 1, 2012

Ok, so by now, you know that I am a stitcher fan. while I am pumping breast milk (which just xseems to freak my 21yo out, just thinking of it — nevermind that I nursed him exclusively for the first year of his life), I am listening to Stitcher. I have found some parenting podcasts, some NPR gems and the most recent; tons of book podcasts . I had written a post (about two months ago) on my netbook which pondered the Nature vs. Nurture phenomenon. OK, I know that it is still on my netbook and has not made it into my blog yet. Honestly, part of this reason is that it is unfinished. But, low and behold, I listen to an interview about the book “Defending Jacob” by William Landay. and it has encouraged me to collect and express my thoughts on this subject.
First, let me say that the book is a novel which presents a situation where a prosecutor’s own son is charged for murder. I am not a person who often reads murder mysteries or thrillers. I read my share because DH loves them and we alternatively get to choose the book that we will read together. but, I have nightmares and even daymares sometimes when I read fictional violence — and even sometimes autobiographical violence. the book stays with me for weeks. So, sometimes, I have to put up with violence and stereotypical unrealistic descriptions of sex and the characters who engage in such matters. and, he gets a much too strong dose of culture, relationships, etc. but, I am digressing. I put it on our “booklist” to read: not because I actually “want” to read it, (“ Under the Banner of heaven ,” [which was actually my choice — *SOMEONE* didn’t realize that it would have vivid descriptions of violence because she didn’t see the entire title] gave me nightmares for a week. … … Whimpy but true ). but I want to have discussions that would eminate from reading such a book.
I sit and hold my baby in my arms. He’s in a happy mood today: cooing and laughing and snuggling up with me. He is now guzzling down his milk. And, when he is finished, he gives a sigh of contentment and sees that I have words on my t-shirt. this captivates him for at least twenty minutes. He tries to pick off each letter, as if he would rather have them in his hand — or in his mouth by extension — than on my shirt. He laughs more in the morning. I try to record a voice memo at least every two weeks of his changing vocal qualities — ( is this obsessive????) [smile]. I guess he will be a morning person. I also note that he will be “Mr. Social.” And, I knew this fact from the moment I fed him with a bottle and he squirmed around and craned his head until he was looking at me while I was feeding him. (smile) I also notice that he is rearing to go. Contrary to popular belief, I did not go out much at all during the first six/eight weeks. But, little Baby Boy enjoys going outside (not in the car seat) and his new favorite thing to do is to try and “jump.”(I can’t wait until he has more control over his sitting skills so that I can get out that jumping thing that hangs from the door). Sometimes, he will just snuggle inn my arms, face next to mine (as if he fits like a puzzle piece) and coo and gabble until he falls asleep. OK, DH (and others) say that it is a “yell” more than a “coo.” but, what do you expect when you name your son “Azaan,” which means “Call to prayer.” NonMuslims need to understand that the one who “calls the people to prayer,” the Muathin, is like a modern day (or not so modern, because this practice started thousands of years ago) town cryer.
Anyway, Maybe I am on a nursing induced oxytocen high, but I think of all of those babies who were abused because the parent’s annoyance superceeded the knowledge that their baby was in distress and feel that I have “nothing” in common with them at all. I can’t fathom the thought process of a parent who would, so effortlessly put their convenience above the well being of their child. Azaan was quite fussy during his first eight weeks of life. The source of my frustration was not my inconvenience, but the knowledge that I could not relieve his stress. I know, “baby crying,” is for another post. But, this made me rheuminate on babies everywhere; no, not the board book series (which is actually titled “everywhere Babies,” but I get it mixed up sometimes), but I am talking about real live “babies.
did Osama Bin Ladin coo when his mother held him close? Was Hitler rocked to sleep in his mother’s favorite old rocking chair? Did charles Manson laugh when his father played Peek-a-boo with him? Who could resist a baby reaching his arms up for you, even if that baby was little Ted Bundy. It is quite possible that these babies’ mothers were thinking and feeling the same things that I was when they held and cared for their babies. Can you imagine Mother Theresa throwing a temper tantrem? When did the babies or children begin to develop into who they would become in later life? [It is only coincidence that all of the negative bay characters are men and the admirable one is a woman].
Are babies a blank slate in which we get to write upon in the forum of experiences and influence? How much does biology play a part in a little one’s destiny? I know that adoptive parents wrestle with these statements on a regular basis. There are well thought out arguments and tons of evidence to support each position. Further thoughts: there are many different theories about when babies — children develop their conscience, personality and empathy.
But, each day I hold this baby on my lap and can’t fathom him doing someone harm. I shutter at the thought of him experiencing hurt and rejection. I look at each experience and wonder how it will shape my Little One. Beyond the thoughts of serial killers and such: I think of certain personality traits and how they relate to a child’s feelings of security. Can we tip the scales for our child to be an optimist? Is my precious bundle destined to be a bit “too frugal” (I’m not saying “cheap”) like his father? Logically, I can’t “teach” my child into perfection, but I admit that the desire is there. what can we control and what is out of our hands? I think of my older children and their lives? Is there something that I could have done differently to make a more positive impact on their lives? Well, right now, all I can see is this wonderful cooing smiling sometimes fussy baby who needs me and whom I rock and hold for comfort. We have bonded and I can’t see any negative personality traits at all! Biased????? Yes. But, those personality traits won’t show up until later, so I am enjoying baby. I imagine that God made it this way so that parents “could” bond with their children before showing them the negative aspects of the child’s character. this insures a protective nature from the parents. and, maybe seeing the baby (at first) as a helpless loving innocent creature helps us parents disgard our selfish nature and begin to put our child’s needs first.
Have you thought about these issues? I can’t remember all the psych books that I read, so chime in with any intellectual insights, also.
Hey, I loved philosophy studies — there was just no promise of employment had I pursued that line of study.


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