Monday, August 25, 2008

Bringing Up Baby

The office is in a minor uproar. There is going to be construction. File cabinets are going to be relocated. Cubicles are going to be rearranged. This means I and several others have to pack up the contents of our cubes in anticipation of the workmen who arrive tomorrow. I don't really ask questions, I just show up and do what I am told.

So, I obediently emptied the contents of my little desk, even though I still don't know what half this stuff is for. A butterfly net? Really?
Under the Healthy Start pamphlets and random files, however, I found a primary document gem.
How to Take Care of the Baby, published by Sears, Roebuck and Co in 1914, and now stored by Ziploc in 2008. The mother on the cover wears her hair in a large twist/bun thing, and appears to be very young and sweet. The advice inside is surprisingly similar to what our nurses tell clients today. Of course, some parts are funny and quaint, like the obsession with the proper ratio of swaddling and exposure to fresh air. And then there was this section:

"If kept within reasonable limits the child will direct its own exercise. Before the child is able to go out of doors he will creep about the house, play with the chairs, sewing machine, table legs, spools, hassocks, and anything it can reach, and will roll about on the floor. Even before this it will lie on its back and kick and wave its arms in a perfectly and entirely healthy manner.

No mother need fear that her little girl will be a "tomboy" in its earliest youth. The more tomboyish the girl is the better, until she reaches the age of fourteen or fifteen years. Of course, every woman will know how to direct her daughter in lines of womanly modesty."

The booklet apparently aided the upbringing of one Monro Kathleen Wylie, born in Sumner, IL at 6am July 19, 1915, weighing 7lbs. Her parents were Samuel and Cynthia. Cynthia was likely the one who noted that her daughter had 2 teeth at 10 months and 4 at 13 months. These back cover inscriptions make me wonder about Monro Kathleen and her family. Were there other babies after her? Were the Edna and Max Wylie who printed their names on the inside cover her children? If she lived past infancy, she would be 93 today.

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