Okay, so this will probably be my last venture into the weird world of baby fitness for a while, but I had to share this fantastic bit of PR with you.
Better Baby Contests. All across America at agricultural summer fairs and elsewhere families waited in line to have their babies assessed for mental and physical fitness in hopes of being awarded medals for their offspring and a proud sense of doing right by humanity.
You have to wonder how the empty-handed parents must have felt. Imagine you’re the doctor or judge. You see the happy, hopeful family from a few people down the line and note their crooked teeth maybe or their slightly asymmetric features (or maybe their dark hair and eyes). Unfit, you say to yourself, sadly. If only we could have gotten that young girl sterilized.
I suspect that if I had any inkling that my baby would be deemed unfit, I’d avoid the carnival tent all together (like I avoid the constant barrage of flu shot propaganda). On the way out of the tent was often a flashing sign showing how quickly unfit children were being born! Scary!
I like people–even love them– but I would never put all my faith in them. Humans have a habit of getting things wrong even when trying to do right.
There was a cheerleader in high school who I couldn’t stand. Bold, beautiful and–well, you know– a cheerleader. Occasionally I flirted with doing what it took to be popular and so once I went to her house for the afternoon. Another friend was there and while trying to find the bathroom she opened the wrong door and to our horror found a person. This girl had been hidden (not abused). I don’t know if the parents were shielding her malformed limbs and low IQ from the world in shame or in protectiveness, but it was sad and shocking.
We didn’t stay. How could we? This cheerleader girl and her handsome older brothers lived as if they had no secret. I don’t know their pain or that of the “unfit” child. Maybe she had a high IQ. We never asked. We never mentioned the incident even to each other.
Cats throw their screwed up kittens away. I understand the impulse, but it’s a low impulse. The higher one, the one that we see with really good nurses and many parents quietly raising children with autism or birth defects is the choice of loving. When we save a one-eyed kitten (when there’s too many kittens already) we defy the scientific consensus.
We fall in love with the weak despite their drag on our resources and time. It makes no sense, but then it is written that God makes fools of the wise.
Photographs Library of Congress