Monday, May 31, 2010

Imposing our Norms on our Children

It is interesting to me how we impose our norms (things we consider normal) onto our children.
The other day, at my mom's group, we were discussing how to install infant car seats and how the bar and the shade should never be up while in the car (see the note below for further explanation). One of the moms wondered how her baby would play with the toys that she hangs from the bar. Another mom worried about the sun getting into her baby's eyes.
I realized that neither of these concerns was really something to worry about. Babies are not going to get mad because the don't have a toy dangling over them. For one thing, they are still fascinated with the world. For another, you can just give them the toy instead of hanging it over them. As for the sun shining in their eyes, babies just close their eyes. It doesn't bother them as much as it bothers us.
My 9 month old loves to watch the ceiling fan. My two year old likes to dip his peanut butter sandwich in ketchup. My friend's first grader loves to play in the rain and get soaking wet. None of these things are appealing to me as an adult, although they probably were when I was young.
I figure that if the kid isn't complaining, the situation isn't bothering him. We (I) need to stop and consider: is the situation really bothering my child, or is it just bothering me?
Note about car seats: The carry bar on an infant car seat should always be down when in the car. Infant car seats are designed to rock towards the seat in a car crash. If the bar is up, it can hit the seat, stopping the rocking motion of the car seat and causing whiplash on the baby. As for the sunshade, if it is forward during a crash, the plastic ribs can shatter when the sunshade hits the seat (this actually doesn't concern me too much, I would think the fabric would keep the shattered ribs from flying). But the most important thing is to strap your child in correctly (which means tight!). I strongly suggest you go to www.seatcheck.org to find a child seat inspector.