by Elizabethon December 26,2011 in Family JourneyJust For Fun

be joyous

Appreciate creatures great and small. Doesn't hurt to smile like them either!

I saw a picture today of a hairy camel smiling.  The little girl in front of him was smiling the same smile.  It reminded me of the little Mongolian boy on the movie Babies, when he first steps out of his Mongolian yurt.  The priceless smile, the crisp air, almost an innate understanding of the adventure of life that awaits him.  I love the movie.  I love how it was filmed.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth checking out. There is no script, and stretches of time where nothing is said at all.  As the audience I was perched at a window peering into the lives of babies from all over the world.  Birth to the first steps.  The countries- Japan, Namibia, The US, and Mongolia.  Watching the babies as they move through their days felt like taking in an impressionist painting.  You have to do the work and fill in the spaces for yourself.   I found myself tilting my head, nudging my husband, shaking my head, chuckling, and pursing my lips with sighs of heartfelt emotion.  The babies were priceless, truthful and absolutely authentic. All of them. And then, wow – some of the parents seemed to be from a different planet. Schedules, constant attempts at coerced learning, and borderline obsession with safety… Flash to Mongolia with baby in the yurt by himself for most of the day.  Flash to Namibia where babies toddle around their chatting working mothers, a more of a hands off approach- to say the least. The movie gave me some food for thought. Taking a step back, I wondered where I stood with our parenting style.  Nursing my kids until they are three, sleeping together and living and learning together pretty organically and spontaneously everyday.  I try to let them be and not orchestrate or plan out their lives.  They have freedom to move and are certainly not constantly supervised.  We have traveled with the kids on dusty Indian trains for days, carrying with us just the bare necessities.  Yes- I thought our life together was pretty simple.  After watching this movie, it made me step back and marvel at how other families do it and how there is always room to simplify.  I want to keep the doors open for my kids, and guide them by shining the light in front of them along the way.  Yet, they probably don’t need the guiding hand as much as it is offered. At the end of the movie, I… well I don’t want to ruin it for you.  I can say that I came away feeling that kids in the west are not necessarily living a better life.  They have more access to things,  but are not necessarily any freer.  And, what stuck with me is that there is a lot of directing going on; we often don’t trust that children are natural learners.  Seeing the babies in Namibia and Mongolia play like little scientists observing and taking in the world reminds me that kids all learn in their own unique way.   It reminds me to have faith in my kids abilities.  To lighten up.  Trust is important. At the end, despite the wildly different lives that these babies live, it is clearly evident that all of the babies are loved.   The Babies director said, a father by the name of Balmes, ” the message to me, is that as long as there is love, babies need very little”.  With your love and your presence (ok, and your milk and maybe a good baby carrier!), your babies will fill in the empty spaces just fine. Kids have a good sense of playfulness and humor, and they respond to it! We can learn a lot from them.  
laughing girl laughing camel

Here is the picture that my dear friend shared with me that inspired this whole post. Uplifting isn't it?

I am trying to track down who took this great picture of the little girl with the camel - do you know the source? I'd love to hear more about the story behind the shot. thanks!!


Elizabeth...I have to say I came across your article as if by fate when it popped up on the twitter feed I set up on my hubby's phone (that I check once every blue moon), and boy am I glad that I did. The picture that inspired your post is one of my favorites, not only because of its ability to make me smile everytime I see it, but also because it was most likely taken in my husband's home province (based on the fact that the girl is in a Buriat Deel and on the steepe!)

I too have seen the movie Babies, and even more telling have lived in Mongolia (in the town next to the one where the family in the movie lived actually)...and I can attest to the pure joy/happiness/contentment that Mongolian babies seem to embody. Is it in their nature? Is it how they are nurtured? My guess is a little of both, but I envy them that temperment and wish the same for my little 1/2 Mongolian son ... which is why I try my best to be as Mongolish a Mama as possible, something that it seems you have unknowingly done as well (a very difficult thing to do in a western society, especially the extended breast feeding, we are only at 4 months and already people are expecting us to ween O_o).

Thank you for writing this article, I really enjoyed reading it ^_^

bobafamily moderator

@MongolishMama You are very welcome! Thank you so much for reading! Wonderful to hear a response straight from Mongolia, thank you for sharing your experience!