Thursday, October 13, 2005

CBC Radio is back!

What’s the connection to this blog? To birthing and mothering? Well, CBC Radio has been the backdrop to my life. It formed the beautiful predictable ritualistic structure for my mothering at home.

CBC Radio 1 has brought form to my life, acting as “comfort food for the mind” when I was a child, bringing sanity to my early years as a new mother, and helping me to parent young adults consciously and conscientiously. So, rather than encouraging new parents to seek out parenting information from "The Baby Whisperer" or other books that address structure and scheduling, I just encourage new mums to stave off loneliness, provide intellectual stimulation AND provide structure by simply turning on the radio.

“As it Happens” meant that it was dinner time when I was a child. “Morningside” with Peter Gzowski brought structure to my mornings when my own children were small. The sound of the beeps which signal 10am meant that I should put the kettle on for a relaxing cup of tea. The noon news reminded me to put aside the playdough and make lunch for us all. The Wednesday morning political panel of Stephen Lewis, Eric Kierans and Dalton Camp was always on the radio in the car as I drove to my midwife appointment during my second pregnancy. Once my children became readers, I would wait, pen in hand, to listen to Michele Landsberg's (incidentally, Stephen Lewis' wife) book recommendations. And in more recent years, some of my clients at home or hospital have turned on CBC Radio 1 to bring some predictable structure to their labour. One woman deep in labour told all the staff to be quiet at noon on a Sunday, just so that she could listen to Stuart McLean tell the Christmas Turkey story on “The Vinyl Cafe,” in between contractions.

Research has shown that one of the best predictors of superior brain growth and development in children is the amount that a parent talks to a baby during the first year. I didn’t read, sing, and chatter to my children to “make” them into something, but to honour them as the complete little people that they were. So, I’d be working in the kitchen, listening to a radio documentary, and asking my three month old daughter what her opinion was. In the early 1980’s I remember talking to her about a newly discovered disease called AIDS and whether the Russians invasion into Afghanistan would precipitate a global war. I remember feeling so strongly that I was helping my children to grow up as critical thinkers - even at such a young age. And they would look at me with such knowing looks, like all of this wasn’t news to them...

I also remember cuddling up in afternoons, listening to the presentation of the Classical Kids Series of radio plays, like Beethoven Lives Upstairs and Mozart’s Magic Fantasy. I knew I was encouraging my children’s imaginations. In a world increasingly full of speeding images on TV, and the manic fever pitch of video games, I could provide my children with the gift of visual images that can never be duplicated. I knew that each child curled around me was seeing a totally different scene. Perhaps that led to their love of theatre, personal expression, and intellectual bravery.

So, it was with great anticipation that I turned on the radio early this week, waiting for live radio once again. I was looking forward to a new season of “As it Happens” and “Sounds Like Canada”. I was looking forward to listening to the CBC overnight service (a doula’s life involves a lot of driving at 2am). And what was the first thing I heard when I turned on CBC Radio 1 for the first time in months? An advertisement for Stephen Lewis’ October 18th "Race Against Time" Massey lecture at the Chan Centre. I must go listen to him - and take my family.

Things haven’t changed a bit.

1 comment:

Judith Tracey said...

I read your comments about CBC with a smile as I have the exact same relationship with CBC. It has definitely been the soundtrack of my life although it certainly wasn't cool when I was in my teens and 20's to be listening to AM public radio! I'm typing now as I listen to Shelagh Rogers. I know I'll do anything I can to ensure that Anneka can also grow up listening to the CBC which seems to be constantly under threat for having its funding revoked.