Sunday, May 06, 2012

It occurs to me that I might be idealizing my new dog a little bit. That I tend to idealize anything or anyone new which looks like something or someone which seems to hold promise for positive future interactions, hopes, etc. That sometimes, I idealize a lot.

Also it occurs to me that this might be a natural and healthy part of bonding or hmmm...what would be the word to use here when this phenomenon is applied to non-living things such as an activity which has just been started in. I think that this period of what I would call intense interest is necessary in order to overcome setbacks, particularly early on when they would be the most discouraging and likely to result in a cessation of the activity or association with the person, animal or plant etc.

What brings this to mind is a documentary I watched today on mammals and mothering. A variety of animals and various mothering strategies and styles were shown. Some animals involve only mother-offspring bonding, others have mother-father-offspring bonding, while others have various forms of community bonding which may or may not include close (first degree) relatives of the offspring. The commonality for all these is that whoever bonds with that offspring, whether we are looking at a group of elephant matriarchs, a species of mice in which the father mothers the offspring in almost every way he can short of nursing them, a group of vicunas, or various simple mother-child pairs, the ones who bond undergo this period of enthrallment. They are fascinated by the newborn. They caress, stare, smell, lick, reach out to it. Almost all of their attention is devoted to this new arrival and in animal societies with group bonding, the group clusters around the new mother and her baby.

This is as it must be. Think of what a pain a newborn is, what a toll it exacts and for animals, how much of their own safety the mother and caregivers is endangered by having something so small and defenseless and not nearly fast enough to keep up. Human parents undergo serious sleep deprivation for the first year or two and then have to invest at least a decade and a half of their life until that child is anywhere close to being able to support itself even partway. Would they do that if they hadn't looked at that red, crying, squirming, helpless creature and decided it was the most perfect thing they'd ever laid eyes on? Probably not.

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