Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, attributed to both Aristotle and the Jesuits, “Give me a child at 7 and I will show you the man”? Yes, it’s a little sexist but I have often wondered, ever since watching the brilliant British documentary Seven Up! – is it true? I had a chance to investigate when I was recently rummaging through various drawers and closets and rediscovered Stan’s and my baby books.
Titled Our Baby’s First Seven Years, these are amazing artifacts of the fifties, done up in pastel pinks and blues and filled with charts and questionnaires about everything from first steps to first foods. As I pored over the pages that our mothers (and my dad) filled out, I had to wonder whether they would tell me anything I didn’t already know about Stan and me, including who we became and how we ended up as a pair.
After I was done with my research, which occupied me intermittently for months, I wrote an essay about some of my findings, and I was over the moon when the literary website Bloom said they wanted to publish it. Here it is. It’s about eugenics, childrearing in the fifties, Jews and Japanese Americans, and whether Aristotle, the Jesuits, and Michael Apted got it right.
Wondering if it will send you to your closets to dig out your own baby books or the ones you did for your kids. If so, enjoy the ride!