On caring for genius with respect.

Back when I read Magda Gerber’s Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect, I found her “Criteria for Praise” so persuasive that they made me feel like I was embarking on parenting with some kind of compass of principle in hand.

• Do not praise a child who is happily playing;

• Do not praise a child who is “performing” for adults;

• Praise a child for social adaptation—for doing things that are very difficult, like waiting or sharing.

This makes so much sense to me. I completely understand it. When I first read it, my baby was too young to play or perform or adapt socially, so I filed it away for the opportune moment to “practice praise” with my baby in a way that showed her I Cared With Respect.

I still understand it, and am persuaded by it, and agree with it. And yet, I now also have an almost-one-year-old who, as of yesterday, applauds herself after banging on the keyboard of her little red piano.

So since my parenting is already off the rails, I might as well admit that I’m pretty convinced my infant child is an experimental film-making genius.

Ruby’s Boxing Day Movie, 2012 from Eugenia Zuroski Jenkins on Vimeo.

(I mean, come on—that penguin.)

Ruby’s Upside-Down Movie 2013-02-03 from Eugenia Zuroski Jenkins on Vimeo.

Unfortunately, my mother gets motion sickness from hand-held camerawork, so R’s vision is a bit too much for her to handle. I can only imagine that these aesthetic challenges also explain why we have yet to hear from TIFF.

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