Two farmers, John and Sam owned land side by side. They always tried to outdo each other. One year they each planted carrots. John took care to sow his seeds far apart. Sam filled his plot with seeds. “My father always planted like this, and we never starved. This way I will have many more carrots than John, and he will be jealous,” Sam thought.
When the seeds started to sprout it looked like Sam would be right. His plot was full of seedlings, so everywhere you looked was green. John had less than half the seedlings, and they were so widely spaced that you could see only bits of green against the dark earth. “John will be furious,” Sam thought, already dreaming of a crop so large it would be the talk of the village. But as the growing season went on, his dreams became nightmares. While John’s seedlings grew big and strong, many of Sam’s seedlings died and the ones that were left were spindly and weak. By harvest time, John had an excellent crop of good tasting carrots. Sam, meanwhile, had a poor harvest. “Carrots are a bad crop, my father always said,” he told anyone who would listen. “Next year I’m going to grow lots and lots of celery and then you’ll see.”
Sam never learned his lesson. That is true of many people. Experience can teach us a lot. But when new experience runs up against old ways it is often easier to follow the old ways than to test a new idea.
Today we want to talk about a new way of thinking, but not about carrots. Today we want to talk about babies. Babies are a joy. Having healthy babies and seeing our children grow big and strong are what every family wants. Children can bring not only joy but financial security in your old age.
But children do have one thing in common with carrots; they need room to grow. “Hold on,” you say. “Carrots aren’t children.” And, of course, you are right. But, just as seedlings need room to grow, children do better if their parents wait at least two and a half years between pregnancies.
Children born this far apart start off stronger and, as they grow up, they weigh more and are taller. Their teachers say they are generally brighter than average.
Many mothers know from their own experience that waiting several years between births is better. In Zimbabwe, a country in southern Africa, mothers say that children born close together “burn” each other, meaning they kill each other by passing diseases easily. Protect children. Wait at least two and a half years between pregnancies. Then there is less chance the children will “burn” each other and more chance of having a happy, healthy family.
This script was prepared by Katie Gillmor Ellis, Toronto, Canada.
This script was reviewed by the following people:
Dr. Helen Gordon, Waterloo, Canada
Dr. Ivan Roma, Toronto, Canada
Cecilia Blanco, Director of Publications, Profamilia, Bogotá, Colombia
Anne Tinker, Senior Health Specialist, World Bank, Washington, D.C., USA
When using this script please use names and crops that are common in your country.
The publication of this script was made possible through the generous support of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada.
My name is today, David Morley and Hermione Lovel, 1986, Tropical Child Health Unit, Institute of Child Health, University of London, MacMillan Publishers.
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