Most people have heard the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child,” especially since it was made more famous by the book “authored” by Hillary Clinton when she as the First Lady. (Personally I doubt that she “actually wrote the book” as she claims. She probably commissioned it, helped edit it for content, approved it, and wrote the acknowledgment section.) Of course, Mrs. Clinton meant that society was very important in raising a child – which is true on the surface – but the real value in the proverb is not what it means about child-rearing as what it means about society. What I take it to mean for society is that we must build societies that are large enough to provide the support necessary to raise a child to adulthood and intimate enough that each child is more than a statistic in the process. That’s the main problem with the government approach – government solutions must reduce everyone to no more than a statistic. A village, in other words, consists of those outside the immediate family who are familiar and trusted by each other (both children and adults) and who have an interest in the successful raising of the children in the village.
A perfect example of the village approach occurred last night. We went to see a performance of Annie being put on by Bountiful High. Soon after we arrived we ran into my cousins, JP and Marie Feinauer. The kids were well behaved for the first song, but then their ages began to catch up with them. Isaac started running up and down the aisle. He wasn’t very noisy, but with the light coming from the open doors at the back he cast a long (and distracting) shadow. Mariah was pretty good, except that she had to keep switching laps. Alyssa could not seem to stop herself from changing seats, bouncing, and talking (without her whisper voice). Savannah was perfectly behaved. Considering how late it was (late for young children) we decided that we needed to leave at intermission, but that was really not fair to Savannah who was enjoying the show and acting appropriately. This is where JP and Marie, members of our village, come into our story. At intermission I asked if the Feinauer’s would be willing to drive Savannah home at the end of the show. They agreed.
Because they were there, and were trusted by both us and Savannah, we were able to take the three home who were not acting appropriate to the setting while allowing Savannah to stay. Not only was this fair for all of the children, but being able to make that distinction showed in a very tangible way what behavior was appropriate at a public performance. I honestly expect that at the next public performance we attend Alyssa will act appropriately (and possibly even Mariah) because of the lesson from last night – made possible because of some help from our village.