So it didn’t happen.
I tried, I did! And here I could insert many a valid excuse–the 111-degree heat at my mom’s (you want to try to play with alpaca yarn in 111-degree heat?), the debilitating humidity here at home (it’s 9:00 pm and I’m literally dripping sweat down my arms, headed for Death By Electrocution when I make contact with the keyboard if I’m not careful). The incredible tiredness that was me, head drooping to chest even as I worked, not aided by the fact that the only AC is in the bedroom where Geeklet lay snoring and content.
But I won’t. Isn’t it enough humiliation, knowing that I didn’t even drip off the 10 pounds? I’m not trying to, or anything, but one has certain expectations…
Anyway, TMoTH has returned happily to the nest after four and a half days of talking Mars with other Mars-focused folk. He brought me a t-shirt and a book about the role of theological considerations in space exploration. I love him. He also brought back ideas about family and child raising in a Martian environment. Ooo.
It would be very different. Your community is ready-made and it is both by necessity scientific and, equally necessarily, focused on child-rearing and community. When talking about long-term Martian exploration you cannot ignore the realities of, well, breeding. It has to happen, to create a sustainable society there has to be a sustained community. That means childbearing, childrearing. The community will need to be involved–so-called nuclear parenting would not work, because the school and the playgroup and the community are all one and the same; the park and the backyard and the schoolyard are the same place; the people who teach you physics and biology and literature are the people who were chosen to come to Mars because they have the ability to study physics or biology and literature or medicine or music. Everyone will have double- and triple-specialty resumes and all of those fields will be used, either in research or in teaching or in keeping the community sane and whole (remember Pa playing fiddle in the Big Woods?). So, all of this will be done with one eye toward raising healthy, sane children who will replace their parents in those necessary research/building positions and who will also bear their own children and do the same thing. You can’t keep from teaching my children, and I have to teach yours too.
In a Martian community it would be like a small village or frontier town in makeup, but every adult would have a responsibility to pass on certain knowledge to the younger crowd. The younger people would be a part of what was going on from the moment they are born. Their knowledge might be simplified in the beginning, but then it would be fleshed out as they went along, naturally, filling out over a lifetime, never a matter of children’s programming or children’s food, but the worth and the work of individual children and individual interests and needs.
Meanwhile, most of the people who originally shoot off from Earth for The Big Red Planet will most likely need to be fertile. There will likely develop some interesting cultural references and approaches to sex and reproduction. Breastfeeding at work will be necessary, and flexible work schedules and situations critical.
The boundaries separating family and community would, I should think, have to strengthen. What? you say. After all this build up, you say this? Yes. In such a small living situation it would be imperative to maintain personal space and the formalities of public behavior. Breakdowns in mores can encourage breakdowns in the structure of everyday life that lend predictability to our social fabric, much the same as the sandy structure of a sandstone cliff face. Allow the sand to loosen, and the whole thing crumbles. So, while children are intimately involved in the lives of other adults, in the lives of their friends, there will have to be some predictable structure of environments in which Formal Behavior is encouraged or necessary, and those in which Informal Behavior is allowed. Having a place to let off steam in trust and safety allows us to then be polite and understanding in public. When you don’t have to be nice all the time, it’s easier to be nice most of the time.
I’m tired. And rather than subject you to deteriorating and ever-more-informal prattle, I’m off to sleep. Good night.