Tuesday, August 24, 2010

World, Are you listening to me?

I have been thinking a lot about children lately.  Every day, I work with people that have newborns, babblers, crawlers, toddlers, grade school kids, teenaged kids, college kids, and grown children.  No matter how old the children are, their photographs are proudly displayed on desks or bulletin boards, or parents will gladly whip out a cell phone to show some digital images. Even if the parents are not into pictures, there are stories.  Lots of stories.  And because children are people, the stories span the full range of human experience- pride, joy, love, sentimentality, fear, anger, worry… you name it, it’s in there somewhere.

Our niece has a six week old infant and not long after the baby was born, she posted a photograph on Facebook.  It was a picture her husband had taken of mom and baby and the caption said it all, “Whoa!  I made this?”   I remember thinking essentially the same thing when each of our children was born.   How could it be that ordinary people could create something as extraordinary and perfect as a new human life?  (Also being a scientist, I wondered how a few undifferentiated cells could develop into a working, living thing.  How do cells know whether they are supposed to be heart cells, or brain cells, or nose cells, or finger cells?  And how do nose cells always end up on the face?  How do internal organs and complicated networks of blood vessels form?  How on earth does it all work?  Ever think about that?   It really is a miracle, no matter how you define the word.)

The other day, I had lunch with a friend who is the mother of a preschooler and a toddler. I asked if she was down to one in diapers and she rolled her eyes and said that the older child, now 3 ½ , was just not interested in potty training. She’s tried all the usual ploys to earn cooperation and so far, none has worked.  I smiled with the wisdom of age and shrugged it off, telling her not to worry because they are almost all potty trained by the time they go to college.   She laughed, but, I am sure she really is worried at some level.

 We all worry about our children at various times, although the things we worry about change. I remember a year or so ago, I heard some horrifying news report about a pedophile and expressed my fears for our own children’s safety to Al.  He pointed out that I could stop worrying about pedophiles, because our kids were really no longer ‘peds! ‘    He’s right.  At least there is one worry that I can cross off my list for good!  

Like us, many of our friends are sending children out into the world.  The world has been pretty good to us so far and I hope it is good to our children.  So, world, are you listening to me?  We have spent the last 20+ years  loving these kids, caring for them, protecting them,  supporting and nurturing them,  worrying, fretting, and doing our very best to prepare them for adulthood.  Now we have to trust you. I happen to know that sometimes you can be a dangerous place.  So listen world, you’d better be good to those kids.  They mean everything to us!  You got that?  Everything.

Today I am grateful for our wonderful children, although I am not sure they will be grateful for this post! 


  1. You are underestimating undifferentiated cells. I was one of those and there is a very strict screening process run by a big brother company which eventually suited me for a liver cell, due to my apt ability to create large amounts of bile.