Imitation and Approval

When I was 12 years old I went to Bible Camp.  It was my first time going to camp, going away for a week without having any parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles.  Luckily my second cousin went so I would know someone and that was probably the only reason I wasn’t too scared to go.  I am not sure why my mom chose to send me to a bible camp, but as a Christian I am sure she hoped that I was receive some good education about religion, the bible, etc.  When I was there I was eager to impress the counselors and leaders.  They had a bible verse a day and a contest at the end to give a free camp hat to anyone who could memorize all the verses.  I was the only who could do it.  I used to have a good memory.  Maybe I still do, I just can’t remember.  At camp they also talked a lot about prayer and how praying could help you get the things you wanted in life, as long as you were good and you really believed.  For me the idea of prayer was exciting because I thought maybe it could work to stop my dad’s drinking.  So I opened my heart and let Jesus Christ in.  The counselors were so happy.  All of them congratulated me.  They were so kind and so pleased with my decision.  After camp was over, I was so excited I had made the decision because I knew it was going to make others in my life so happy.  My mother, my grandmother, aunts and uncles.  And on top of that I was told that if I was good and really believed that my prayers would be answered.  I had many tangible reasons to be very happy about it all.  It had very little to do with heaven or hell, or some events on alternate planes of existence, but the way it made others in my life happy, and the way it might help my dad to stop drinking was very exciting.  Of course none of my praying made any difference to my dad drinking and in the end the excitement of my decision to let Jesus into my heart faded and it became clear how the entire belief system had any relevance to life if one of the things they touted the most didn’t work.  I believed as much as a 12 year old could.  But the fact that prayer doesn’t work is not really the subject on my mind, but rather that as I reflect I see how much of a child I really was.  I completely didn’t understand the complexities of the religion or the Bible.  I was clearly caught up more in the joy that the adults in my life felt by my decision rather than really grasping the importance of what a religion means to someone’s life.

Dhyan_forkandknife

It takes very little time with an infant/toddler to see how much they want to imitate others.  And while I am sure there is an evolutionary aspect to this, because obviously if we have survived as long as we have, it makes sense to copy our parents, but what is also clear is our reaction to that imitation.  Because when he successfully uses a fork, or successfully gets up on a chair by himself, climbs the stairs etc, there is much applause.  There is much excitement and happiness.  All in the house are happy and pleased at this ability to accomplish these tasks that move them closer and closer to adulthood.  Every child can’t wait to do things older people can do. They can’t wait to grow up.  As children we are always looking for the approval of our adults.  We may rebel when we don’t get it, but initially, we want to be noticed by those we look up to.  As children we are somewhat helpless and getting adults to like you and notice you, is a way to make sure that they take care of you, teach you, spend time with you.  If you can impress an adult then this is a bonding experience.  Something we all seek.

dhyan_laptopFor all my dad’s faults he was fairly adamant about choosing a religion as being a choice to make as an adult.  That children didn’t have the capacity to understand the decision and thus did not want my mother to influence as children.  This was not something my mother or Mennonite grandmother could really help doing, but it was certainly tempered compared to many other children and I am quite thankful for my dad in that, because it’s clear to me that he was right.  Even at the age of 12 I could not understand a religious belief system.  From my mother I may not have adopted her belief system, but I learned about her charity, her kindness, her compassion, her perseverance, and the fact that she is someone who likes to ask questions and research the answers.  As I watch my child grow I can see that it’s less important what I believe, but rather how I act.  These are the things that will shape him.  Brainwashing him into a certain set of beliefs seems pointless over my actions being moral.  My child was born an atheist and if he decides that he wants to pursue a belief system as a guide to live his life then it will be his own choice, not because I’ve prescribed a doctrine for him to follow.

With the idea of God being “our Father”, I sometimes wonder if God isn’t the ultimate helicopter parent.  A way for people to still constantly seek approval from a parent-like figure.  It seems somewhat unnatural to me now to maintain such an attitude into adulthood.  As children it makes sense to have this attitude, but as adults we are supposed to no longer be seeking approval and be the role models for our young.  I guess as social animals it’s easy for such hierarchies to remain.  The only problem is, if there is no God then all we’re really doing is trying to make a non-existent entity happy and a lot of difficult to interpret texts written by men on what God actually wants to be made happy.  That seems like a wholly unhealthy way to live life.

Baby crazy people – an apology

Our first child was born last Friday night.  It is a wonderful joy and a great way to bring in the New Year!  It’s quite an ordeal I have to say though.  My experience can only pale in comparison to my wife who actually had to do the hard part.  We had to induce labor and then the baby’s heart rate was dropping and they ended up performing a Cesarian.  All that was quite a bit of craziness as it is.  It’s hard to believe that something so natural as the propagation of life could be so complicated, but I simply reminded myself that without all this medical madness survival rates would be a lot less for newborns than they are now.  Or that mothers dying during childbirth would be far more frequent.  I am SO thankful I live in a country, and have a job, that gives me fantastic medical care.  When I think about how much of the world (and even in the U.S.) does not have such great medical care for child birth it gives me such a feeling of gratitude for all that I have, I cannot even describe.  It makes me even more impatient for people who complain about their job who have good health care like I do.  If you’ve had a kid with that health care plan you should be a lot more thankful, because it could be a whole lot worse!

Back to the topic at hand.  Baby crazy people.  You’ve all met them at some point.  They absolutely gush over babies.  Some of them have had babies, some of them haven’t.  Maybe you’ve dated one and got concerned that they were just going to trap you into a relationship by getting pregnant.  Baby crazy people frightened me because I didn’t really understand them.  Please keep in mind, I am not saying that now that I’ve had one, I’m one of those people.  I am definitely not.  I am crazy about mine, as I should be, but I still don’t see myself doing back flips about other people’s babies.  My apology is based on the fact that I have perhaps judged these people too harshly in the past.  Thinking that perhaps something was possibly askew about these baby crazy psychos.  I mean seriously they love babies so much that when they get close to one, my first reaction has always been “You know it’s not yours?  You can’t have it.”

But baby crazy people are my new favorite people and here’s why.  Because my wife had a C-section we were at the hospital for 3 days and we had a lot of nurses and doctors come to see us.  It’s hard to get any rest there.  They are constantly coming by to check on the mother and the baby.  Machines are going off here and there.  It’s not very peaceful, and I would say that the facility we had our baby in was more peaceful than most.  There are also roving specialists who come by.  Pediatricians, lactation specialists, baby hearing specialists, respiration specialists, etc.  It’s mind blowing.  Awesome and a little irritating at the same time after only 2 hours of sleep in 36 hours.  🙂  Hands down though,my favorite people, especially the nurses, were the ones that absolutely loved our baby.  They were crazy about him.  They were the most helpful, the most caring to us, and most importantly the most caring to our child.  I began to think, well what kind of nurse would I really want working at this part of the hospital.  A nurse who didn’t like babies and I had to only depend on their sense of professionalism to do their job well, or do I want someone that gushes at the sight of a newborn baby and can’t stop melting at the sight of it?  The answer is obviously the latter.  Obviously it doesn’t guarantee they are going to be a good nurse either, but they definitely won’t be a bad one, and if they don’t know the answer to your questions they are going to try their hardest to find someone who does.  And I began to realize that being baby crazy is no different than any other passion we all share.  Not many think the atmosphere is as cool as I do, or likes interacting with college students as I do.  I am sure you’d much rather take your pet to the veterinarian who loves animals as much as you love your own pet.

So basically I’m saying, I am glad the world has baby crazy people.  This is my apology.  I might not completely get it still, but gush away at babies.  There is no reason why any baby shouldn’t have as much love as possible. 🙂