Still thinking about the movie “Babies”

Ponijao lives in Namibia with her family, including her parents and eight older brothers and sisters. Ponijao’s family is part of the Himba tribe, and lives in a small village with other families.

Mari lives with her mother and father in Shibuya, a busy metropolitan area within Tokyo, at the center of all of the city’s noise and excitement. Mari is an only child and lives a contemporary urban lifestyle.

Born in Mongolia, Bayarjargal, usually called “Bayar” for short, lives with his mother, father, and older brother Delgerjargal (“Degi”) on their small family farm.

Hattie lives in San Francisco, born to very ecological, “green” parents.  Both of Hattie’s parents are equally involved in her day-to-day life, fixing her meals, taking her to play groups, and spending time with her around the house.

What am I talking about?

Why “Babies” of course.

Breastmilk squirted on the babies face to wash the eyes.
A mother licking the babies face then spiting sharply.
A jacuzzi with mother and baby. Baby is not happy.
A river to play in.
A metal bath tub to sit in while a goat drinks from it.

These are all scenes you get to be a part of for a breif hour and 20 minutes.

Some of you might say yuk or gross. I say you need to see the film to understand how it is not gross. In fact is is very amusing.

For me, I would love it to just keep going and going.  I’m looking foward to the DVD with all the extras.

Here’s my take on the above.

Breastmilk has antibiotic properties that helps get rid of infection and also help prevent infection in the first place.

All animals clean their babies by licking them. It is the most natural thing. It is not uncommon in most cultures for a parent to suck out the mucus from an infants nose and spit it out when they are sick. I have been told this from some people I know that lived in Jamaica and other Islands. I know, Yuk you say. But this is normal for them.

My babies bath tub in St John was a metal tub we bought from the hardware store. You see people wash their laundry in them. The tub would sit on the deck and they would bathe outside in the fresh warm air.

Then there is the shots of three babies playing with the family cats. The most patient and tolerant cats I have ever seen. Then they edit over to the African baby staring at about 30 flys as he contemplates if he can catch one of them.

We think of flys as dirty but are they any dirtier than the cats. It seems our bodies can handle germs quit well.

I know many babies die disproportionately in Africa and other poverty stricken locales, but this baby was born and raised in its natural setting, not an area where war or drought had made the circumstance strained.

I love the way babies imitate what they see. The little boys pounding rocks and walking with the can on his head. Too cute.

The Japanese baby was given many baby specific made toys and seemed quite frustrated with them. If presented with a real set of pots and pans verses a baby designed plastic set of pots and pans, a baby with most likely play with the real pots and pans. My son use to watch his daddy iron his clothes every day before he went out, so he would turn his toys into imaginary irons and iron his clothes on the step.

All children like to wash dishes with all the bubbles, (that is until they have to wash them for real).

Pull up a stool next to the sink and they are in heaven. I am refering to babies that see parents wash dishes in a sink which actually doesn’t happen in families that use dishwashers only.

The American baby was read to constantly and had no siblings to play with and learn from. This cut down on the variety of things that she learned. Really it was all up to the parents to decide what she learned. The baby is not learning all the variety of things that come with multiple personalities (ie. many people). This works ok when parents have lots of time but puts tremendous strain on the parents. There was a time in America when families lived near or with extended family. The whole family raised the child. With the nuclear family this rarely exsist anymore. There were great benifits to this type of community culture and society has stressed itself out from its lack.

These are things I know from experience not because I am a doctor in pshcology. (which I am not)

The Namibia baby plays with a rock, sucking it along with the mud then spitting it back out. In some cultures it would be feared they would choke on the rock because of it’s size. There are so many fears associated with what environment our children live in. The Nirobi mother or community member was always nearby. Their attention was very much on their children. They would not hover but they were there.

When my oldest was around five months old we were at the beach with a group of women and their babies. I sat Jeremy under a tree that had lots of half inch round pine cones all around it. He put one in his mouth and choked on it. I grabed him and smacked his back then put him right back down. I was not afraid, I just did what I always did: I mothered. If it happened again, which it never did, I would react the same.

Did you wonder where the dads were for Ponijao and Bayarjargal? They were noticebly not there when compared to the other two dads that were constantly there.

They all lived with two parents but the African and Mongolian father were out for long periods herding.

All activities were structured in Japan- not much physical affection type interaction.

The scene were the father was trying to distract the baby while on the phone showed me he really was not tuned into the baby. I kept waiting for his hand to hit the babies face but thankfully it never did.

The parents sometimes worked with Mari at home but yet there is no one for her to play with. The alternative for them was the hectic day care. This society (technically advanced and modern) is not working for the true needs of the baby. She is loved, you can see that, it is just a more cold, structured exsistence.

The births of the babies were all very different.

The first, Africa, seemed centered in tradition and rituals.

The second, Mongolia, seemed more alienating, she really seemed confused.

The third, Japan, well I don’t really remember it.

The fourth, American, birth was at home but then they transfered the baby due to breathing difficulties. The baby was fine but spent 3 days in NICU for observation. A baby is considered contaminated when born outside the hospital so it must be isolated. Every test was done, which seems like a huge overkill, which is exactly what I would say America is famous for. This is not seen in the movie, I just read about it on the Babies web page.

The place I cracked up laughing the most and was brought to tears was when the brother strolls “Bayar” out into the open field, it’s as though he is tired of his brother and kindly disposes of him temporarily.

I want to see this again to see what other things are hidden waiting to observe.

Would love to hear your thoughts connected to this post.

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