Sunday, March 04, 2007

Intergenerational Learing

When I moved back to Washington, I had a lot of time on my hands. Since my grandparents lived so far away, I thought that I would volunteer at the local assisted care facility. Its a place where old folks live in their own apartments but have all the services provided for them, like meals, cleaning, laundry. I began by playing cribbage with Jack. That was 5 years ago and we still play every Friday morning.

He is in his early 90's but is still fun to hang out with. I bring Kevin, 3 year's old, and he rides his tricycle around for everyone's enjoynment. People come and go. It is hard sometimes watching some of my friends as they become less sharp, fade into dementia, or get struck with sudden illness.

What I have learned is that over the last 50 years families and the teaching that goes on from one generation to the next has disintegrated. One of the reasons I moved back was to be closer to my parents but frankly, I still see them only occasionally. And before they died, my fiercly independent grandparents would never have thought of moving any closer to us.

When I got married, I thought that the plan was for me to work and my wife to stay home and raise our kids. I just assumed that she knew how to do this. I sure didn't. In the first 25 years of my life I spend very litttle with small children or infants. Surely since my wife is a woman it is natural. What I didn't realize is that there is no natural ingrained kid birthing/raising knowledge in females. Also, there is no specific instructions that mothers usually pass to daughters. In the past families were large and the older kids helped with the younger and when they started have they own famililes all the sisters and brothers helped out. So in our family all the older kids help out and when they have their own families, I hope that they stay close so that I can stay involved and help them with their kids. And so that when i'll real old, they will be there to change my diapers.

Lord Cromwell

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