You are terrific writers and consummate defenders of modern motherhood. Still, I have a generational bone to pick with you. And your many readers…!
It’s perhaps chronologically inevitable that I at 81 would see you as a little out of touch with the “big picture.” However, right now that picture is being featured in a sprawling new exhibit titled CENTURY OF THE CHILD: 1900-2000 [Museum of Modern Art, NYC].
I’m fascinated in the way they [and I] see childhood so differently than you. This exhibit makes clear something I learned living during much of that century. That childhood is a relatively new invention. Until the 19th C, children were simply considered little adults who should start earning their place in the family as soon as they could sew a shirt or plow a field.
Until the Victorians, there were no lacy images of little boys and girls enthroned by their parents with endless hours of playing, napping, and being entertained & educated by devoted mommies & daddies!
Now whether that culture was superior to today’s culture is open to debate. My only challenge as a father and grandfather is this: Is it in the best interest of our wonderful children to be placed on pedestals of wonder from the moment we bring them home to their very own decorated nursery, to their first inspirational recordings of Mozart, to their 24/7 part in every club, camp, and tutor we can afford?
If that statement makes you mad, I apologize. But check out that exhibit which will perhaps makes me right.
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