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The Word on the Week

Crèche Control

The first time I came in contact with the word “crèche” it referred to the practice of Eider Ducks in corralling their chicks under the supervision of two or three mothers. The chicks had made an arduous journey to the sea, dodging marauding foxes, stoats and weasels and were left together in a tight group which gave them protection from predator gulls.

The Eiders in charge of the crèche, like their human counterparts we heard about this week, had their work cut out to look after their charges. But look after them they did teaching them to dive and find food enabling most of them to survive this vulnerable time in their lives.

In our brave new world where Grannies and Mammies are not as available as they used to be and where dual-earner families have become the norm the crèche becomes the least bad choice for baby when the maternity leave comes to an end.

At a visit to “Bloom” the flower festival we were told by a worker from “Concern” that the nourishment normally supplied by vegetables during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life is crucial if that child is to achieve its full potential. Their garden exhibit was set in Zambia and demonstrated the ability to grow vegetables in terraces to provide children with the nutrients necessary to give them good physical and mental development. If this is neglected, we were told, it cannot be compensated for in later years. While this presents a weak link in African child rearing their saying “it takes a village to rear a child” illustrated how the structure of their community life makes crèches unnecessary.

The importance of that first 3 years of a child’s development has been recognised and countries like Finland apparently now pay mothers to remain at home to rear their children. In Africa, as elsewhere, eating habits change slowly but as Concern has shown change for the better is possible.

In what would have been completely contrary to the culture of the day Jesus encouraged little children to be brought to him and he blessed them (St Matthew chapter 19 verse 13-14). This demonstration of divine love for those normally overlooked is perhaps the most crucial requirement of all for our little children today. Wise parents seek to reflect this love by bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.