I think children benefit from being around other children… not just in a social sense (though developing social skills is hella important… and yes, I just used the word hella), but also in a nurturing sense. Many children have the opportunity to grow up with siblings… but what if you only have one child? Even if you have multiple children, your oldest child doesn’t have an older sibling and your youngest child doesn’t have a younger sibling. But… what if they did? Even if it was only on occasion?
Perhaps it’s the caffeine talking, but I think having multiple children around is incredible (and yes, also a bit more complicated than just one). For months, I have watched Sweet Cheeks and Munchie develop a relationship that goes deeper than a friendship. I mean, yes… they are friends… but from being around one another on an almost daily basis, these kids started interacting like family. Friends interact, play, maybe even problem solve… but family picks on each other, comforts, and communicates without even speaking (the level on which these two understand one another is mind-boggling).
About two weeks ago, I started watching an adorable three-month old baby (Little Boo). Initially, Munchie was jealous, stole his binkie quite often, and just didn’t seem too fond of LB. Sweet Cheeks didn’t even acknowledge his presence. As the hours ticked by, the kids started to warm up to LB… and as the days have passed, not only are the other kids interacting with him, but they are helping to take care of him!
When LB cries, the other kids come running with a binkie, blanket, or toy to help cheer him up. Munchie LOVES to help feed LB… which I actually thought was going to be BIG issue, since we recently packed up ALL of Munchie’s bottles (yeah, we used bottles until 18 months… and this is me not caring about your opinions), but as long as he gets to help feed the baby, he doesn’t even try to steal the bottle! Both kids enjoy rocking LB in his various baby rocker/bouncer/seat/basket/box/receptacle/devices. They sing him songs, jump around, dance and do just about anything to make him smile. Munchie also likes to tickle Little Boo (which he did just after LB ate yesterday… and the result was baby barf all over Munchie, while he just looked at me with a squished up face saying, “Eww, Eww, Eww” in a manner that would make Jimmy Fallon proud).
I feel like this level of nurturing isn’t something that can be achieved through dolls or imaginative play… I think it’s something that needs to be experienced first hand. But, how do I propose we do this? I mean, I guess an in home daycare, where different age children have the freedom to interact with one another… or perhaps some form of child renting program… which might sound bad, but would really just be reverse babysitting… because instead of paying someone to take care of your child, you pay THEM to let your borrow theirs.
Post caffeine high reflection:
Uhh… I think this is one of those ideas that sounded better and less creepy in my head. Don’t rent your children out to strangers. Also, to the families who currently have children in my care… I would like to revise the payment suggestions listed above, as I will NOT be writing you checks… however, I will generously let you continue funding my research on this topic. 😉