Happy Birthday, Sylvie Inez: A selection of photographs taken by little Ms. Sylvie; & Quote for the Day: Montaigne on the aim of parenting

Self portrait #1

In honor of my daughter’s 3rd birthday (which is today), I publish a selection of photographs she herself has taken over the past year.

Sylvie very deliberately sets up frames; and for every dozen or so pictures she takes, she usually takes one or two that are genuinely interesting. Cameras have a way of becoming involved in and altering subjects; but there is very little of that phenomenon in Sylvie’s photography. As she toddles discretely around clicking open the shutter on the various tableaux that she, for whatever reason, finds compelling, she offers a truly unfiltered view of her universe, and from her consistent vantage of about two and a half feet above the ground.

A quotation from Montaigne’s essay “Of the affection of fathers for their children” that I happened to be reading this morning as I make my way through The Complete Works (interpolation and emphasis, my own).

A true and well-regulated affection should be born and increase with the knowledge children give us of themselves; and then, if they are worthy of it, the natural propensity going along with reason, we should cherish them with a truly paternal love; and we should likewise pass judgment on them if they are otherwise, always submitting to reason, notwithstanding the force of nature. It is very often the reverse; and most commonly we feel more excited over the stamping, the games, and infantile tricks of our children than we do later over their grown-up actions, as if we had loved them for our pastime, like monkeys, not as men [and women]. And some supply toys very liberally for their childhood, who tighten up at the slightest expenditure they need when they are of age. Indeed it seems that the jealousy we feel at seeing them appear in the world and enjoy it when we are about to leave it makes us more stingy and tight with them; it vexes us that they are treading on our heels, as if to solicit us to leave. And if we had that to fear, then since in the nature of things they cannot in truth either be or live except at the expense of our being and our life, we should not have meddled with being fathers.

A bonus quotation from the same essay that strikes me as being well ahead of its time on the matter of corporal punishment. Writing in 1578, he said:

I condemn all violence in the education of a tender soul which is being trained for honor and liberty. There is a sort of servility about rigor and constraint; and I hold that what cannot be done by reason, and by wisdom and tact, is never done by force […]. Leonor […] is over six years old now, and has never been guided or punished for her childish faults […] by anything but words, and very gentle ones. […] I have seen no other effect of whips except to make souls more cowardly or more maliciously obstinate.

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One Response to Happy Birthday, Sylvie Inez: A selection of photographs taken by little Ms. Sylvie; & Quote for the Day: Montaigne on the aim of parenting

  1. Pingback: Quote for the Day: Montaigne on the difficulty of waking young children | SeThink

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