Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What is wrong with the nurseries?

Stop and think: what comes to your mind at the hearing of "nursery"? A church room filled with rocking chairs and blanketed floors? A warm sunny room with lots of plants? Perhaps the detailed plans of a wonderfully decorated baby's room? Can these really be the uses for the word "nursery?"

Nursery is defined in a modern dictionary in the following ways:
1. A room or area in a household set apart for the use of children.
a. A place for the temporary care of children in the absence of their parents.
b. A nursery school.
3. A place where plants are grown for sale, transplanting, or experimentation.
4. A place in which something is produced, fostered, or developed.

One has to read all the way to the last deffinition to find the true meaning of the word. In all the other meanings, the 4th is trying to be accomplished. However, I feel that our culture often leaves the true purpose of a nursery in pursuits for the "cutest room" or the "best, inexpensive place to leave my child."

Sadly, we see the 4th (and true) deffinition at work the most in the only non-human purpose of the word. Imagine a gardener, tenderly pruning and shaping the young plants in his care. See how he carefully ensures they are getting the best nutrition, light and warmth. He knows the needs of each plant at each stage. His plants thrive and grow to prepare for their transplant into the "outside world." He is cautious to allow an outsider to tend to his plants, aware of the consequences of a neglected sprout.

Many "child nurseries," however, are not given such care. More thought is directed to the decrative acheivements of a nursery room than to the activities of rocking, singing, and playing so needed in infancy. We leave our children to "outside nurseries" (day-cares) rather than the nursery of home, as we pursue whatever work or play of adult life we choose. Even the nurseries of the church have become simple dropping sights so that we may "be fed" without the distraction of children in the service.
Therefore, the children have a beautiful room with no one to rock them; learning that " beautiful cradles" are more important than "the beauty of cradling." We calm this concern by reasoning that the decorations and toys selected provide an optimal sleep enhancing/relaxing environemnt for the child.
They attend day cares where they are surrounded by numerous other children and supervised by adults who are paid only to entertain them; performing activity after activity; learning that they must be always entertained and interacting only with people their own age. The parent, meanwhile, is off attending to committments, making more money (for those beautiful cradles) all the while raising her self-worth. Our excuse for this nursery trade-off is the sycology that children need to be "socialized".
And the church nursery: yes, a good thing to a point, but at what age does it become detramental? Some churches go so far as to seperate teenagers into their own "service" rather than include them as one large family. What happened to the church family? The variety of ages gathering together as God's people to learn from God and each other?

It seems to me, instead of "A place in which something is produced, fostered, or developed," a more accurate deffinition (according to how we use nurseries) should be "A place where children sleep, are dropped off, and gotten out of the way while an adult makes use of his/her time"

To be continued...

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