“Infants normally mimic sounds, facial expressions and actions they observe but if an adult tricks them, they will no longer follow along with that person. Like older children, infants keep track of an individual’s history of being accurate or inaccurate and use this information to guide their subsequent learning,” said researcher Diane Poulin-Dubois, a professor in Concordia’s department of psychology. “Specifically, infants choose not to learn from someone who they perceive as unreliable.”
This was tested by having experimenters look inside a container with excitement then inviting infants (13-16 months) to look themselves and see what was in the box (toy or no toy).
These experimenters, using their forehead instead of their hands, pushed a button to turn on a light, to see if the infants would copy the action. 34% of infants with “unreliable testers” performed the trick but 61% of infants with “reliable testers” followed along.
Fool me once shame on you, fool me… you can’t get fooled again!
What I’m wondering, is if babies learn to trust the adults that they perceive to be reliable (which makes perfect evolutionary sense), why do they enjoy being confused so much? One of the first games I used to play with my daughter when she was a baby was “which of my hands is that thing in?” I would hide an object in my hand and offer her both closed fists to choose from to find it. She learned pretty fast that if the object was in neither hand, that I had hidden it under my leg or something (I’m not a very good magician).
Anyway, this reminds me for some reason about the Monty Python “Confuse a Cat” sketch. See for yourselves:
I think I am kidding about the above graph. However, judging from how long I looked online for instructions on drawing asymptotes (MAJOR NERD ALERT!!!) in Excel, maybe I’m a little serious. Or maybe I am a bit too committed to making a graph-based joke. Or too easily drawn down internet rabbit holes. One of those, I’m sure.
The nice thing about this visual is that my son is going to have an excellent study aide when he hits his Geometry books. So really, time well-spent. Hi-fives all around.
Anyway, I digress.
Last night, the non-sleeping got so bad that my husband was forced to stop pretending to not hear our son and got up to try to calm him down. Shannon has a pretty good idea of what the crying must have been like to manufacture this Fatherly Event, but for anyone else unfamiliar with the situation, (I feel like a reporter “sources familiar with the situation state that…”) trust me on this – it’s a major life event. It may go in the baby book, in fact.
I am not breaking any ground with this screed. Babies are not great sleepers. Babies who just got their first two teeth and started walking two days ago make even worse sleepers. Babies who do not see their Mama all day long and learn that they can conjure her up with a few pathetic-sounding yelps from the crib are Very Smart Babies indeed, but also are exceedingly shitty sleepers.
When the first friend in my age group called me about 8 years ago to tell me she was having a baby, I remember it went something like this:
“Are you sitting down?”
“Yes, actually I am.”
“No, are you really sitting down?”
“Like you really need to be sitting.”
“What is it already?”
I think we were about 22 at the time and I had just finished college and decided to take the mind boggling step of (gasp!) getting engaged. Having a friend ready to take on this whole being-a-parent thing was like staring down the staircase in “Vertigo.” My generation having kids? You have to be joking! Our parents had spent YEARS telling us how HARD they worked and how MUCH they sacrificed for us, there’s no way we could do that because we were lazy, ungrateful, and mostly clueless. Well here was one of us, ready to take it all on.
After my head stopped spinning, I think I tried to comfort her nervousness by saying something like “well, you don’t have to become our parents, you can be the parent you want to be… this doesn’t have to change who you are.”
I have never been so right and wrong in the same sentence.
Now I have many friends, my age, that have children (by choice, no less)! And last year I joined the ranks. I have found myself facing many of the same problems that have driven parents mad for centuries as well as some delightful new ones. At the same time, there are tools at my disposal for which parents not two generations ago would have given a kidney. For example, I have the ability to connect with my friends and fellow parents online, day or night, near or far, and talk about serious issues or complete drivel at great length and little cost.
It in that spirit that this blog experiment was born. A year after my friend and I had our babies just twenty days apart, we decided to take our conversations with each other public and hope that someone else out there find comfort in knowing that we may be parents, but we are still us.