In the debate of Nature vs. Nurture, I tend to to lean into the side of Nurture knowing that the milieus in which we are raised affect us greatly. This film peered brilliantly and honestly into 4 individual stories from 4 unique countries, giving the audience that long-coveted fly-on-the-wall feeling. 4 BABIES come into their own worlds, interact with parents, eat, sleep, poop, throw fits and coo. The coo’s become intelligible words just as crawls work up to dance. We climb. We conquer. In these are everyman and yet none of these represented groups that I feel I will ever truly understand. I was horrified by the cultural lack of hygiene and equally mortified by one family’s constant neglect of the baby who sat tied to the bedpost all day. I delighted in the culture of community in one story, but sat stupefied by the over-the-top American example. At least the American example reminded me of a very important truth: one family does not represent every. Just as the one African family is not every African family, so the Mongolian family does not represent all of Mongolia.
This, one of my first documentary film viewings, led me through fascinating journeys of thought into the probability that we are not only affected by our surroundings but that at whatever age, we also work to impact the environments in which we are placed. I also realized that I am so very Western. I know it’s not wrong to appreciate baby wipes, or to be more grateful suddenly for undergarments like bras, but this film stretches worldview. It gives a Truman-esque perspective. What will these little lives turn out like? What will they choose to do and become? How are they formed and forming in thier surroundings? How are they the same? How would they be different if they grew up elsewhere?
Perhaps this film speaks more of motherhood than childhood. I walked out of the theater a little more grieved than enchanted, but I did learn an important personal lesson: for now…I’m okay without the responsibility of parenthood. Someday, hopefully, but today I’m content without babies.