Friday, February 3, 2012

Recalling Some of Daniel's Attitudes About Family

Daniel was aware that my mother went to an assisted living facility first for rehabilitation after an injury, and later because she chose it. It can be hard for young people to imagine the need for assistance and support that older people may sometimes need.

Daniel disliked the whole idea of boarding schools and military academies. Of course, largely what he knew about them came from watching "Malcolm in the Middle".

Daniel believed that kids should learn from their parents and that long term daycare made "good little socialists". I wondered where he had heard the word ! Perhaps he was of this opinion because we once had a child who came from an orphanage who stayed with us, and therefore Daniel had a front row seat for a time to the institutional damage of that particular child.

One of the things I remember best about Daniel was his ability to observe something and the ability to draw a conclusion that others might not make. Even when he was quite small, he often saw things differently. I was reminded of this today when Adam and I were out in the car, and he mentioned something. We were in a restaurant near a rural shopping center which is quite near a private boarding school. The restaurant was beyond full, as today is apparently the day in which people come with their sons for an informational visit to the private boy's prep school.
Daniel was always very appreciative of the fact that we had organized our lives so that when they were small, we were available to our kids. This was less true of Adam and Stephanie. When they were very small, I sometimes worked nights as a nurse in order to be home with them during the day, after very little sleep. When Matthew was a baby, I worked a critical care job, but only on weekends when my husband was home, so that I would be there during the week. Daniel was the fourth child, and lucky insofar as he was the first child who had me home, all of the time, without sharing me with a regular job until he was older than ten. Daniel therefore had the luxury of believing that daycare was less than a good place. Of course, I don't think it helped that Adam and Stephanie told stories about daycare which included fights and what sounds like deprivation and unfairness, but I think to them as young children, time there may have seemed unjust. Daniel was of the opinion that people who turned children into fulltime daycare as babies or toddlers, and then picked them up with enough time to feed them and put them to bed, should just skip having children entirely. Daniel believed that we should raise our kids and not pay someone else to do it. I tried to explain that many times there were good reasons to use daycare, and that it could broaden the horizons of the children who were using it, but he believed that long term daycare was something arms length parents did when they wanted to spend as little time with their children as possible. I wondered recently if he were right, when I read about an upscale daycare center in which you not only can check on your child via internet, but using Paypal, you can buy your child's very own birthday party. His friends are already there, and it's his birthday, with no fuss, and no muss, for you the parent. All of a sudden I wondered if Daniel had been right about some people abrogating as much time with their children as possible.
I learned today that Adam is of the same opinion. He was saying that not only are people in a mad rush to place their children in daycare, and return to work, whether the financial need is there or not, but that placing a son, who probably needs to hear what his parents think about a number of things, in a private boarding school also may be another version of abrogating some of the obligations of parenthood. Lastly, the trend to place even functional older people in assisted living facilities, sometimes for the convenience of their families is also a manifestation of an America in which we want what we want, and do not wish to be encumbered by our babies, school aged children, teens, or elderly. Adam is not the only one who feels this way. I'll bet Daniel still does too.

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