Since she started walking, walks with my daughter have been an exercise in frustration because she has to stop and examine every flower, every leaf, every insect. As she got older I started noticing some other oft-repeated behaviors but just thought it was a developmental phase. I commented to my friend that my daughter is like a pack rat. She just can’t resist a shopping bag and then walks around filling it up with random toys, stationery and other ‘treasures’ she finds around the house. Sometimes she just fills bags with other smaller bags. I never understood the allure of this activity and was even a little annoyed by it because her interests only lasted so long and once the haul was abandoned it would fall to me to redistribute everything back to it’s proper place. I never really made the connection but in a light-bulb moment yesterday I realized she is just doing what she is genetically programmed to do. If we lived as our paleolithic ancestors did or lived in some rural part of the world as a member of a tribe she would be following me on our daily foraging trips and learning how to be a good gatherer. We’d be examining plants and tubers looking for food, we’d be putting them into our baskets or sacks and carrying them back to our home.
Another thing she loves to do is pour water. According to Dr Loren Cordain et al who recently published a paper titled “Organic Fitness: Physical Activity Consistent with Our Hunter-Gatherer Heritage”, along with foraging for food, water procurement was an important daily activity. The paper describes ‘Fitness Among Forager Women’ saying that “anthropologists have estimated that the typical forager mother carried her child until about age 4, covering upwards of 4800 km with the child in her arms over this period. Phew! My daughter is just about to turn 5 and much of the last year has been about us trying to get her to understand that she is getting too big to be carried everywhere and all the time. We have to negotiate doing activities like visits to Sea World by saying we can only go if she walks most of the time. I certainly can’t imagine carrying her daily on long walks!
Nowadays I have a different perspective on my daughter’s activities. I am trying to view what she enjoys and how she approaches tasks through the filter of her place in the human continuum. She is not as adapted to modern life, she hasn’t been indoctrinated into the fast-paced, media-driven world we adults live in. Maybe by watching her I can learn what it means to be an authentic human rather than the other way around.Share