Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nineteenth Semester and Babies

Last week, I finally finished my final essay of the semester, clocking up 19 semesters in my uni career! That's ridiculous! Another 8 weeks of commuting, and time juggling with full time work. And late, late night assignment completion. Mum says I have always done that, so I guess I am hardly going to change now!

I was to be off on placement now, with big overseas hopes, but the lag of time to have my 10 years of work experience accepted as my first MSW placement meant that such big plans would not have come together in time. So this time next year I will need to complete the requirement of 14 weeks of Social Work work experience, to meet accreditation. Fingers crossed for something awesome!

And then last Saturday I drove down to Melbourne, having posted my essay instead of driving down and pairing it with a screening of the documentary Babies. French documentarian Thomas Balm├Ęs, follows 4 babies, from birth until their first steps, from around the world. Two boys and two girls, we watch the preparation for the Namibian birth and then the medicalisation of the baby arrival in San Francisco. Baby brought home to his ger in the middle of Mongolia on the back of a motorbike, and the fourth in bustling Tokyo.

With no narration, this film contrasts the 4 children as they interact with their new world. The encounters of animals and siblings in Namibia and Mongolia, and the single child, city experience of the developed world babies, we watch babies being left as their parents are out to work the land, we hear discussions about SIDS correlations and watch participation in singing parenting groups, and the cinema collectively held it breath as Namibian baby picks up anything and everything from the dirt and brings it straight to his mouth.

Clearly the film maker was in awe of the vastness of the Mongolian lifestyle, with loads of wide camera angles, showing the family's ger with nothing else in sight apart from mountain ranges. Once baby Bayar starts to crawl, he is out of the ger door, and seemingly in harms way every moment, with a jealous older sibling, and animals such as goats and cows walking about right where he is.

All 4 babies seem to crawl around the same time, and all four manage their first steps in roughly the same tentative attempts. The doco is such an awesome study of infant survival, the different stressors and practices of parenting and life across the world, and that really, we are all much the same, given the developmental progressions and thriving of these four children.

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