Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/745

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725
CHILDHOOD FROM A MEDICAL STANDPOINT.

though often animated, and she would sit for hours on the floor and amuse herself. She rarely cried, took her daily naps as a matter of course, and slept quietly all night. Teething did not annoy her, and, in spite of irregular feeding, her digestion was good.

The little boy refused to creep or sit on the floor at all, but ran about incessantly. His movements, except locomotion, were far less complicated and precise than those of his playmate. He could not put the cup on the stick, though he tried repeatedly, nor throw a ball nearly so well. He was incessantly and intensely interested in the things he saw, but only fixed his attention on an object for an instant. He had no initiative, and, as he was unable to amuse himself, he was never left alone. He talked a great deal, but not plainly, and understood nearly everything that was said to him; and it pleased him to mimic the little girl's ways and prattle. He was very fond of having the piano played to him, and could always distinguish the tunes he had heard a few times. He was bright and intelligent, and, when feeling well, very good and happy, but was a bad sleeper, and at times cross and fretful; in spite of scrupulous attention to diet, he was a martyr to indigestion, and teething caused him much suffering.

It is noticeable that many city children are thrown more among adults and less with children than is desirable, partly from the custom of relegating a large part of the parental responsibility to a nurse, partly from the small average number of children in a family, and partly from the limiting conditions of city life, which are somewhat unfavorable to real sociability. The chances are that unless a child runs the streets he will see more of two or three or half a dozen adults than of all the rest of the world put together. This is abnormal and unwholesome, as it deprives the child of the kind of mental stimulus and discipline suited to his age, and substitutes something wholly inappropriate and harmful in its tendency. When the school years come, the children have companionship, at least in school hours, but also in many instances an imperfect school hygiene, with its bad air, poor light, cramped positions, and other drawbacks. Dr. C. F. Folsom says of city school children: "Pale faces, languid work, poor appetite, disturbed sleep, headache, and what is vaguely called nervousness, are more common among them than they should be among children of their ages," and speaks of "constitutions weakened during the school years, instead of strengthened, as they should be."

On account of lack of familiarity with country life, many city children of the lower school grades, as shown by President G. Stanley Hall, have the most extraordinarily distorted ideas about the commonest natural objects and phenomena, and much of this mass of misinformation remains in adult life. On the other hand,