When my cousins and I were little, my Gramma’s brother, Uncle Jack, would bring his family down to visit our wild tribe every once in a while. I was too young to experience it first hand but I’ve been told that he would always remark how everyone just seemed to pitch in when it came to the kids.
If someone was crying, the nearest adult would scoop them up. If someone was hungry, a plate got fixed. Diapers got changed. Hugs were handed out. Stories were swapped too.
My mom and her six siblings all got married and had kids pretty close together. So all of us cousins grew up with a strong sense of family. Now that we’re grown up, we’ve all gotten married and had kids pretty close together too ( at least the first batch of us has). Would you believe not much has changed in the last thirty years?
Put all of us together and the babies get passed around the room. The toddlers dart in and out of everyone’s periphery. And the bigger kids never sit at their parents table, not when there are so many Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins who seem more interesting. It makes sense right? They learn it when they get passed around as a baby.
In Swahili , there is a proverb “Asiye funzwa na mamae hufunzwa na ulimwengu” which translates to “Whomsoever is not taught by the mother will be taught with the world.” In other words, it takes a village to raise a child.
“It takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb which means that it takes an entire community, filled with people who have different points of view, to help a child grow in a safe and nurturing environment. The village looks out for it’s children. However, this does not mean an entire village is responsible for raising your children for you.
At a family wedding last night, I don’t think Bex and I held our son for more than a couple minutes and at first it made me nervous. I haven’t been around in a while and I forgot how baby-hot-potato gets played.
At one point, Boy Wonder was on the dance floor more than we were. He ate at four different tables. The kid didn’t even ride home with us. He stayed with my mom instead.
Even though he was on the other side of the reception hall, we still kept tabs on him. But we knew he was safe with our little village.
Our village has never been more important than it is today. We live in a face-paced, instant information, and pressure-packed world. That makes parenthood scary and fun all at the same time. We do the best we can, like all good parents. Thankfully our village is there to fill in the gaps in our knowledge and teach Boy Wonder things that Bex and I never could.
Although we don’t live close to either of them, we are lucky enough to have both of our families (on separate coasts) to be that support network. That’s so many helping hands, points of view, and hearts full of love that I finally understand why Uncle Jack was so touched by our “All for one and one for all” family style way back when.
The Swahili knew it, Uncle Jack knew it, and now I understand. It certainly does take a village to raise a child.