Monday, March 14, 2011
It seems to be a commonplace that having one’s first child means crossing a threshold, from entertaining a relatively abstract interest in the longer-term fate of the world, to being genetically invested, having skin in the game, so to speak.
I don’t have any children yet myself, but over the past few years, as various relatives and friends a few years my senior have begun nesting in earnest, I am increasingly intrigued by a key tension inherent in becoming a parent. On the one hand, there is a sense in which a new parent’s focus narrows as their child’s well being assumes paramount importance; on the other hand, that same well being depends ultimately and inescapably on the state of the wider world the youngster inherits.
So I thought it could be interesting to provide a way for people with very young children to be prompted to cast their thoughts forward to a specific date in which their child has a concrete stake. This would be a gesture towards reconciling parental concern, responsibility and love for their offspring, with a commensurate interest in the bigger picture.
In the photo above is Andrew, born 6 July 02010. Other things being equal, he should graduate high school in the (Northern Hemisphere) Spring of ‘28. Thus he sports the inaugural ‘Class of 2028’ onesie, lovingly, if incompetently, decorated by me, at his parents’ baby shower last June.
This may be a meme worth spreading. So, get your ‘Class of 02028’ and 'Class of 02029' paraphernalia here at the Futurewear Cafepress shop. I'll donate any proceeds to The Long Now Foundation.
Update (16mar11): In line with Long Now convention, the designs on sale now use five digit dates. Also, 'Class of 02027' has been added, enabling the current generation of toddlers to take advantage of this exceptionally wonderful line of merchandise. Cheers, Zander.
Note: Of course, a precisely correct prediction is not the point, but it's not a bad idea to think about it. So, a baby born today would most likely be 'Class of 02029' in the U.S. (a calculator to help the confused). In Australia, where the calendar year is in sync with the school year, you'd add 17 or 18, depending on your state's convention, to the year of birth.
(Thanks Sara, Mike and Andrew!)