Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Well, It IS An Important Thing To Learn, I Suppose...

E-baby told her first lie yesterday.

The Backstory: Like many toddlers, e-baby is addicted to her pacifier. I've pretty much limited her use of it to the carseat and bedtime, but even her doctor has noted that she's had a strong need to suck on something since birth, so it's not surprising that the girl will not give it up without a fight. One of her top-ten signs right now is pacifier. This week she was recovering from horrendous diaper rash, with every diaper change being very painful, so it just seemed the humane thing to let her have the pacifier ("chupon" in our house) when she had to have a poopy diaper change yesterday afternoon.

After the aquaphor and a new diaper were applied, I took away the chupon and she criiiiiiied, and signed pacifier and said "pon! pon!" but I told her that she didn't need it right now. We went downstairs.

The Mischief: Less than five minutes later, she went up to SNG and signed change diaper. She's been learning this concept of signing when she needs a new diaper, so he asked her whether she needed to change her diaper and she signed change diaper again, but the look on her face was clearly "I'm up to something!" SNG, always the slave of his brown-eyed-girl, carried her upstairs. She spotted the chupon, picked it up and ran back to the stairway. Her giggling clearly said "Heee! I got you, sucker!"

The Analysis: Learning to lie is an important part of development because it not only requires understanding the difference between "me" and "you" but it also requires understanding that "my knowledge" can be different from "your knowledge." Sounds simple, but it's really pretty complex stuff. She won't really have an idea of other people's perspectives for years to come, but this little "trick" on her part was fascinating. My only disappointment is that it worked: she came downstairs with the chupon. :-)

All of this brings up an interesting question, to which I don't have a good answer. To what extent should I be imposing limitations and when should I just let things go? This was a very important question when we had dogs, and it was SO EASY to answer: if you don't want your dog to do xyz or some variation of xyz when it is an adult dog, then humanely nip the behavior in the bud as soon as you see it. The problem is that my child is not a dog, and I don't really want her to grow up responding to my every command. Also, some of the things I wish she'd give up, like the chupon, will work themselves out in time anyway. No way will her friends let her have a pacifier at her first sleepover. So should I fight it now? Another case in point is mealtime behavior. Lately, e-baby HATES her highchair and would prefer to eat at her small table in a chair. I see this as a natural progression and don't mind indulging her, but so far she sits, eats a few bites, gets up to play, and wants to take her food with her. I don't want her wandering around with a fistful of crackers. If I take up the plate, she misses the rest of the meal. Eventually she'll learn that she has to stay seated if she wants to eat (just like at daycare, where they have the same policy). But the question arises again-- do I really need to fight this battle? Or should I just insist she stay in the highchair longer? Won't there be a thousand other battles to fight that are more important?

Dogs were so easy. But none of my dogs knew sign language.


Granny said...

Re Learning to Lie: I wonder what Piaget has to say on that topic.
Well, we ALL know she is an EXTREMELY smart baby!

Cat said...

Coincidentally, the new issue of APS Observer has an article about lying, and it said that learning to lie is an important cognitive task. I laughed out loud when I read it last night, about 5 minutes after I posted this entry.

PartnerInCrime said...

C-baby has never had any interest in a pacifier whatsoever (even when she was a newborn and I wished so hard she would take one because I thought it would help soothe her), so I may not be much help here. But honestly, this is just me: I don't think the pacifier is that big a deal. The need for a comfort object is pretty common at this age, and she's not even 2 yet, so if she seems to need it, it might be easier to just let her have it. Like you said, it might not be worth the fight. Or ask your pediatrician what he/she thinks about it. You're right that it's something she'll eventually outgrow on her own.
One of the moms at my daycare took her little girl's "chupon" away when she was 3 or 4, and told her that they were going to send it to a baby in a poor family that needed one. The little girl totally bought it, and talked for ages about the new baby who had her old pacifier. I thought that was kind of cool, to give the kid a sense of doing something charitable at such a young age. And since she was old enough to understand, she never asked for the pacifier back.
The eating thing, I don't know. I've read that toddlers aren't really capable of sitting still for a meal for more than a few minutes at a time. So maybe it becomes a compromise of ok, you can sit down and eat a few bites, then get up to play. But the food stays here until you come back to finish your meal. The fact that it's being enforced at daycare is good too, since it should sink in faster that way. But yeah, I don't really know the solution for that one.
It's pretty awesome that she figured out a way to totally scam her daddy, though. :)

Lizard Breath said...

Well, I guess that she probably didn't think that she was lying, merely getting what she thought she needed. As you pointed out, she will eventually give up the pacifier. Until then, these new ones aren't bad for kids teeth so, it shoud be less of an issue, right?
As far as the dinner stuff goes, what is the school's policy? Do you think that she would stay there longer if someone else were sitting with her? Miss C hasn't started table food yet, but I am sure once she does, she will be hell on wheels, figuratively, of course!

Cat said...

Yeah, the "lie" was more of a trick. She did it again this morning, but this time she told me it was bedtime. "Night night!" at 7:30 am. So funny.
I do sit with her at her little table when she's eating there, and they do the same at school, so I think the best way to keep her from trying to take her dinner "to go" is to only let her use the Freedom Table when she has food that's not so messy to walk around with. Yogurt will be restricted to the high chair!

PartnerInCrime said...

Something else that occurred to me: if Elizabeth has any sort of stubborn or rebellious streak in her at all (and I could not begin to imagine where she would inherit such a trait, cough cough), it might make the pacifier seem even more desirable if she sees it as a forbidden treat that she only gets at certain times. So, there's that to consider. I don't know. Just a thought.

Cat said...

MY child, rebellious or stubborn? Yes, I think you have a point, although I still don't want her to have it all the time since it'll get in the way of pronouncing words properly- at this age, it's already kind of hard to understand what she's saying. I have generally avoided using the pacifier as a reward, since I really don't want to get into that kind of cycle. But giving it when she has pain is probably making the chupon seem like a reward. That's definitely something to consider.
The daycare allows the pacifier for naps only, and they weans them off at around 18 months. I'll probably take a cue from them for what to do at home.

Granny said...

Doesn't this also show that she has a sense of humor? I think so! (another sign of great intelligence, eh?)

Cat said...

Yeah- that's for sure. Tricking daddy is always good for a laugh. :-)

SNG said...

As long as we don't start saying that tricking Daddy is easy!

RecyclingQueen said...

The chupon is far better than thumb-sucking, and, incidentally, easier to cure/give up than the old thumb, and, as pointed out above, will do far less harm on the dental structure.
Babies can be very stubborn and one of the biggest concerns for adults is to be sure that we don't paint ourselves into a corner over battles that really can be left to solve themselves.
Whether e-baby ends up a singleton or the eldest of a huge pack of siblings, you will discover that each and every baby is a total and complete individual and what works well with one will have absolutely no impact on another. The joys of parenthood! :D)!!!
So, my advice is "chill, enjoy, and keep notes"!