I have recently received the book How Children Learn by John Holt. I am delving into the idea of homeschooling my family, looking at the emotional , financial and educational implications for everyone, me included.
Anyway, I was struck by his mentioning how babies were not considered worthy of attention from the scientific community in the 1960’s. This brought back a clear memory from the weekend (DH told me about it, I was not there).
My husband and son were visiting my FIL after an outing to the beach and DS needed a bath to get all the sand off. Now DS still does not like his hair being washed/brushed and resists strongly. FIL, in his attempt to show DH how it is done put a soapy hand on DS’s head which of course resulted in a protest. FIL assured DH that it is fine for DS to protest, it doesn’t mean anything.
This is precisely where myself and DH meet resistance with FIL on pretty much every parenting topic that can come up. In FIL’s mind until you communicate in full sentences and can give a measured and educated opinion regarding whatever is being discussed, your opinion does not count. Even when you are an adult, and especially if you are a child.
I continue to be baffled by this approach.
I do not feel comfortable ignoring my sons communication just because he is not discussing the issue in a rational adultlike way. If he says “no touch head, no hair” and makes a point of it before each bath, I have decided that is a good enough reason to respect his request. Yes, his hair looks a little manky sometimes, but mostly nobody would guess he has had his hair washed a handful of times in his life. It is not making him sick, or smelly. For whatever reason (I suspect partly sensory, partly control of his body) he finds having his hair washed extremely uncomfortable.
Back to John Holt. As I read the sentence about babies not being worthy of serious attention until time makes them more interesting, I remembered FIL’s comments about DS when he was a baby. And that was just it. Babies are boring for him and only interesting when they speak rationally. Even then (DH being a prime example) you cannot trust them to think in the right way and draw the right conclusions.