Friday, May 15, 2009

It's a wild ride.

Like BEB, I love parenting. It's the most engaging thing I've ever done, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, intuitively, instinctively, culturally.... full on. 

I find it fascinating how intense parenthood is. I think it's because, doing it this way, being the involved, stay-home kind of parent, my genetic replicators and memetic replicators are working together. Before I had kids there was a chance that my genes' lineages might be pretty much a dead end, passed on only in viruses that mutated inside me. Before kids my genes were 'wanting' me to change my life, and breed but my memes were doing all right, I had friends and workmates talking Susan-talk all over the world. 

Once my chatty household included a child, my memes had a different chance at long and bushy lineages. Since having the kids I have been less good as a correspondent, I haven't been to see BEBPaige, or even Abacus lately, and yet, there's nothing as amazingly likely to reproduce one's parents' ways of doing things as bringing up a child. For example, my children went to the same Playcentre and go to the same school that my parents took me to, my children are pedantic and imaginative like I was, they look up insects and words in reference works as I was taught to. Hazel loves Anne McCaffrey like my mother does and likes to talk about maths at the dinner table like my father does. 

Now the children exist, my 'selfish' memes are 'trying' to become my children's 'selfish' memes. They 'want' those children to reproduce them as much as and for as long as possible. That means my memetic reproductive urges are busy making me want my children to live long and prosper, passing on my ideas and ways of living to others. 

Sean likes Anne McCaffrey and maths too. The similarity of Sean's and my memomes (y'know, like genomes but for memes) are one of the things that makes all our memes more likely to get replicated as together we reinforce each other's and new memes we pick up (e.g. schema learning theory) go well with the other memes we already have (an interest in theoretical discussion). I find myself pleased when my children are friends with people like me, people who reinforce my memes. 

My genes have two chances now too, and my genetic reproductive urges are busy making me want my children to produce grandchildren (preferably lots). My memes want quality grandchildren, the kind who'd like to look at my insect books and dictionaries with me, the sort who would learn from me and talk Susan-talk. Right now my children are too small for the difference in outcome between many-grandchildren and grandchildren-like-me to make a difference to how I sense my reproductive urges. Genes and memes both 'want' my parenting to be successful, my children to be well-loved, and it might be that they are pulling more in the same direction than they have since I was a toddler, back when my memetic learning was so importantly structural that if I hadn't done it I might have died too young to pass on my genes. 



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