I started this list of links at the beginning of March and never got around to publishing them. Well, they’re still just as good now as they were then.
1. An Introvert’s Embrace of the Cross from my husband Dom, an interesting reflection on what Pope Benedict’s resignation has to teach introvert parents.
2. Georgette Heyer and the Via Negativa It takes a special genius to leap from Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion to Thomas Aquinas and Pope Benedict XVI.
It occurred to me that we are in much the same position relative to God. It is possible (see Thomas Aquinas) to deduce the existence of God from first principles; and given that He exists, there are certain things that can proven about Him: that He is omnipotent and omniscient, for example. But is less obvious is that these statements are essentially negative. God is infinite, you see, not in the mathematical sense, but in the sense of being unbounded. We can put no bounds on His knowledge or His power. That doesn’t mean that we truly understand what it means to be omnipotent; we don’t. It is simply not conceivable to us.
Children make a rotten consumer item, which is why they are losing out in the marketplace of self-centered pursuits. Or course, they also make marvelous people and a central part of a life that is infinitely more rewarding and filled with a happiness unknowable by the self-centered consumers we have become. But such a life takes time—lost and lots of time. And it is only possible if one’s own character is capable of producing and acting on the desire to put those kids first. Before career. Before one’s own hobbies. Before even what most of us think of as necessities, like nice, new cars. In the culture of death kids are items for which we choose to make room in our lives, or not, rather like pets. Not surprisingly, we don’t feel the need for all that many such items, or to spend all that much time with any of them. Then, of course, we end up wondering what the purpose is in our lives, why our lives on the slopes, at the beach, or wherever we spend the money we wrenched out of other people and the economic system in general, hasn’t made us “happy” in any lasting sense. There is a choice, however. When children are welcomed into a family as gifts from God, and raising them is welcomed as the true purpose of a family, and a central purpose of each of our own lives, they bring a joy that is simply unknowable for the util-counting couples.
Unfortunately, the ersatz curriculum we’re so obsessed with these days — the dull, isolated, uni-dimensional skills and “outcomes” we compulsively track on check lists — is just a proxy (and a bad one) for the “real” early childhood curriculum: the playful environment that supports higher order cognitive and emotional development such as hands-on exploration, emotional connection, curiosity, inquiry, imagination, complex language structure and vocabulary, problem-solving, and self-regulation.
And that curriculum can be found anywhere. The authentic early childhood curriculum isn’t necessarily contained in the word we reflexively call “preschool.” It doesn’t need to be in a school at all. You can find it under a moss covered tree stump in the woods, or in a parent’s arms. On a noisy playground, or hiding behind a book in the library.