Author: Lala
•Tuesday, May 22, 2012
(Post from Carl)

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 there
  • 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 & clouds
  • Playing with their shadows
  • Stopping by the library to get a book
  • Climbing on benches, playground equipment, going down a slide
  • Watching dogs
  • 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:
  • We 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. 
  • We 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. 
  • Vehicles 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 accepted it. 
  • Likewise, 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 better.

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On June 10, 2012 at 6:44 PM , Jenny said...

Awesome analysis. Yes, there are a lot of things we can be doing better. And I'm thinking of it in the context of interacting with people in business, law, politics, etc in addition to environmentally.

You are an awesome dad and I am glad to see how much you love your children and the investments you are making for their future.