There is a viscerally good feeling I get when I see my
children learning and progressing and developing in an obviously healthy way. I
think I’m hard-wired to be pleased by that, similar to how I’m hard-wired to
want my wife to stick around.
I instinctively like to see that my children get good
nutrition and a good environment (rich but not overstimulating, caring but not overly-indulgent).
I know that genetics seems to play a huge role in how a child turns out, but I
think there’s also no question that a good environment and nutrition are
important for allowing a person to rise to their genetic potential. For
example, TV for toddlers is suspected of increasing risk of ADHD, and it seems
that poor nutrition, exercise, or sleep in very young children can lead to
later problems with weight.
When I thought about all of the things my kids saw or
experienced in a two-hour trip to the park on Sunday, I was amazed and pleased:
Seeing the cars and trucks and pedestrians on the way
Watching a man doing tai chi (for about 5 minutes). Other
men we saw had swords and armor and helmets.
Seeing several squirrels, and a butterfly flying around,
and the kids trying to chase after it
Playing and climbing on rocks
Watching many different girls and boys playing and
interacting, babies, people playing basketball
Exploring a bridge, pathways, trees, seeing the stream
and rocks under the bridge
Finding berries and flowers, watching the blue sky &
Playing with their shadows
Stopping by the library to get a book
Climbing on benches, playground equipment, going down a
Eating food. Discovering that if you forget you have a
straw in an open cup, and think you are using the other cup we have with a closed top, you will
dump the water over yourself if tip it toward your face.
I also think about what my children might do better than
me when it’s their turn. Surely we’ll have progressed as a society by then,
right? By modern standards we’re giving our children a fantastic start on life,
but there are still some glaring problems with even that:
don’t have a good scientific understanding of morning sickness and preeclampsia
and how to ensure that pregnancy works well. It seems like a lot of studies
point to the prenatal environment as extremely important for a child’s later
outcome, yet Lala had a very rough time of it and we delivered 10 weeks early. I am confident that science will progress.
have neighbors and people in public who smoke. We do get some second-hand. It
makes me a bit angry that they have a right to do something that harms my
family. I’d really like to have a smoke-free neighborhood or city.
and fuels cause air pollution that seems to be bad for people and particularly bad
for developing fetuses. Gasoline is ubiquitous and actually contains benzene. Particulates
just keep looking worse the more we research them. I can foresee a day when
people will be amazed when they look back at what we do now, and wonder why we
phthalates and other chemicals in plastics are ubiquitous and possibly
affecting many aspects of health, particularly endocrine and sexual development. Again,
our current cavalier attitude toward the chemicals we expose ourselves to will
seem strange some day.
I could give a few more, but I think it’s clear we can do