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[To an email correspondent who just had a baby.]

I've noticed that not only is there a window where kids are very teachable (they crave being taught, they want to sit in your lap and be read to for instance, to learn how to draw or write, to sing melodies) but in that window of time it's very powerfully concentrated experience for the child (time and experience is different for the child and the adult has to see that from the child's view and experience), so that a little effort on the part of an adult is very, very big for the child. I've also noticed how a child will tend to learn directly from a parent in a much faster way than from a non-parent. Actually, this may have exceptions, but it *is* something I directly observed in one instance.

And if you think about it you can give a child so much that is foundational in simple efforts and events, with cards (letters, numbers, words, pictures) books, drawing, coloring, simply playing with toys on the floor. These things last a lifetime.

Being one's usual self (fallen self) with a child (being sarcastic or short-tempered or anything like that) though lasts too. Of course I probably spoil kids I've been around and I know parents have different roles, but it seems so usual for parents to not give their children these simple things. For instance, my dad was a cartoonist of some talent, yet I never once saw him drawing pictures and figures for any of his grandkids. I even prompted him to do it, and he was like "not interested." He couldn't see the value from the child's perspective. I guess.

Also, you see so many parents demeaning their children. I once saw a child very happy and excited leaving a store because obviously her mother had bought some kind of food that makes a child happy, and the little girl was grabbing at the food in the bag as they were walking, and this young mother sneers at the little girl: "Did you buy that? Did you pay your money for that?" The words alone are incredibly stupid (I felt like saying did you buy food you ate when you were her age?), but seeing how it just slammed into the child's innocent, skipping along happiness is what is hard to take.

Children aren't exotic, easily-breakable glass vases I know. Most parenting, I also know, is instinctive and influenced by the sheer amount of time one has to give a child on an everyday basis, and children aren't angels (always). But they know when something special is taking place. And if you buy them a book and put it in their room they remember that.


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