Saturday, February 02, 2013
Cute, huh? Mom is wondering at her amazing child. He has long arms. He will be able to swing with those. They will get so strong, she is thinking. Making him stand upright. No. Perhaps he wanted to stand upright and was still a bit top heavy and tottery so she is holding his hand to give him support.
She hasn't read What To Expect In your Baby's First Year. Do you think his chances of not surviving are greater because she did not read it? Do you think she wonders if he will have that slightly flat chin like his daddy does? Will he someday usurp his father's position of power and make poor old daddy cower back in the shadows of the gunite caves? Will she be thinking that, because he is a male child, maybe he should hang around with dad more often to learn how to act more like a chest-pounding Silverback?
I think she feels an indeterminate sense of wonder at this tiny creature she feels so protective of. She notices a sense of unease if he starts to toddle too far, as he is doing more and more often. But she will get over that. One day she will find his teeth at her breast a little too uncomfortable. She will pause a few extra minutes before giving him access. He might find a piece of fruit in the meanwhile and they will both become less and less interested in the bond of nursing. And, one day, as I have observed, he will be driving her bat-shit crazy with his demands for attention and she will turn her back to him and stare blankly at the fake concrete wall until she lapses into a sort of fugue state and doesn't notice his clamoring. Kind of the equivalent of our martini before dinner, or a xanax before we brave the wilds of Wal-Mart.. And his clamors grow more short and more quiet as he starts to race and climb around with the other apes.
Three babies later, I wonder if she will see him getting to the top of the climbing rope before all the other apes and feel pride. Maybe she will think, "Oh, that's one of mine." Or maybe she will be homing in on that head of lettuce the keeper just chucked in the pen.
I have seen, not first hand, the most amazing things that elephants and dogs can do. You know they are guided by more than instinct. Or is that what instinct does? Teach us? I don't think it could cover all the bases, like "I think I will help that other elephant over there get that baby out of the muck because she is having a heck of a time on her own. " Maybe our experiences refine our instincts. (Once again, I drag this one out. "Well, there is a lot we don't understand about neuro-biology.") Have you noticed there is a lot of discussion about whether animals can reason, and you will see a film clip here and there or you will watch your lab back out from behind the table when he realizes he can't go forward and there isn't enough room to turn around. But I don't think anybody has drawn a line. I don't think they can. Maybe scientists are trying to. They sure try enough other crazy stuff, so why not? Sooner or later someone will want to put a giraffe in an MRI tube to watch the neurological stimulation in her brain during orgasm because they have tried all the other animals and the grant money hasn't run out yet.
But maybe they should be a little afraid of this kind of certainty. I grew up in an Irish Catholic neighborhood. (Yeah, there was such a thing. The Whelans, the Duffys, the Mulryans, the O'Brians, the Cadogans, the Caseys, the Queenans. I am kind of starting to think that those new DNA studies they are so entranced with are going to show we were perhaps more than neighbors. Look at the picture of that cemetery in County Roscommon. The feckin' Caseys are buried right next to the feckin' Queenans, and here we are next door to each other in St. Mel's Parish.) Anyway, to let me get back, we all received our First Communion when we were seven or eight-ish. The official dogma of the time was that a child reached the age of reason at seven. It is to laugh, right? But I heard it. Of course, I also heard you would go straight to Hell if you ate meat on Friday. No kidding. It was like that. So if a scientist finds out exactly which animals are reasoning and when they start, Jesus H. Christ. The Maryknolls are going to have to start a whole new outreach program.
As a way of stalling from doing what I should be doing, I read my email. It is hardly ever a "Hi, how are you?' anymore. It is this news service or that and on and on I link. And comment. Sometimes. Well, actually I comment almost always but they don't all see the light of day. But that was another post. So today they were talking about how now we have a black president, and all that is left is to have a woman. And it sure can't be Hilary because this Secretary of State gig knocked the stuffing out of her.
But the conversation segued into this and that and how only the Icelandics were a pure white race and someone had to come along and mention the Vikings stopping in for a visit. (Y'know? Back not so long ago, the darling Irish were not allowed on the list of white people in America. I saw that on the internet so it must be true.) And I had to bite my tongue way back when they said black president. Is he a white guy with a black dad or a black guy with a white mom? And, for crying out loud, how much longer are we going to beat this racism drum? We are going to have enough trouble when they start assigning IQs to classes of apes. We already have Ligers, don't we? And someone already wrote the story of one of the earlier near human primates showing up (cloning, I think. Not the over used frozen in the ice trope.) And trying to blend in with the Southern California Public School system. I think it was called Adam.
Well what was my point here? That mom and baby gorilla are so charming. Can't you just almost feel her sense of wonder? And someone asked me to blog about the picture and this is what happens. So mend your own fences. I drank out of the garden hose and I am fine. Sure I am, but I didn't know about earwhigs then.