3V0189.01 Rolling Over (7/30/78)
This past week we have not observed Peggy’s intensive chatter in positions other than on her back in the morning or in her infant seat at feeding time — until just now. Peggy is lying babbling on her stomach. How she got there is a small tale in itself.
After being fed, Peggy was left alone on the bed while Gretchen went to bathe. I played with her, as she lay on her back — babbling and playing with her toes. when she made noises of the kind that usually precede spitting out just eaten milk I sat her up, patting her back, then folded behind her one of the pillows which prevented her from falling off the bed. Peggy “sat up” — showing a persistent tendency to fall on one side. As I propped her up with a hairy arm, she began plucking at the hair and her back slipped down from the pillow. This put her in a clearly uncomfortable position. She began pushing with her legs — the move of her on-the-back-accidental crawl … the result I ascribe to an attempt to escape a wet diaper while rolled on her back. Then came Peggy’s big surprise. As she kicked hard with her left foot, she rolled over her right side onto my arm (she had been leaning much in that direction). Peggy looked quite surprised. she showed a big smile right after her look of surprise.
Peggy has learned to live with accidentally rolling on her back — after first reacting with frustration after doing so (and perhaps fright), she managed eventually to entertain herself by playing with her feet and babbling. I conclude from her early reactions that rolling on her back was one of those defeats, and an important one, to which the growing infant is frequently subject. This incident marks the first indication that rolling over is a reversible operation through an autonomous action.
When I left Peggy on the bed — on her stomach — while writing these notes, I set her looking out the glass doors of our second storey balcony because Peggy has much enjoyed looking at the play of light on moving leaves. I sat on the far side of the room. when I left her vision field, Peggy cried and I remember say a few phrases trying to console her. Then I fell silent. After looking out the window a little, Peggy began a conversation. /aeh..aeh/ (remember that she couldn’t see me). when I imitated her, she broke into a big smile and tried to turn in my direction (I believe she still did not see me). Peggy and I continued talking this way for a while, after which she let her head down and began her current plosive dominated babbling repertoire.
I consider this incident as significant because it shows Peggy using even her small command of language in a social/functional way. She is not crying to get a response, she is using language — the social means for action at a distance [and even out of sight].
Where did this verbal turn taking originate ? Let’s say it began through Robby’s “entertaining” Peggy — which he did by making long strings of varieties of sounds — to which she responded with fascination. It continued with all of our imitations of Peggy’s noises — in what I see as our attempt to establish just this sort of communication with her [doing so massively reinforces of early imputation of personhood to her].
A second specific and probably very important source has been Peggy’s socializing at feeding time. Peggy frequently interrupts her feeding to draw back from the breast and to smile at Gretchen. Although this distresses Gretchen when her milk has first let down, later on in a typical feeding the both have enjoyed the smiling and Gretchen’s imitation of Peggy’s noises. How long has this been going on ? Perhaps Gretchen can recall precisely. A second index of the feeding socialization is Peggy’s distractibility at feeding. How long has it been now that Peggy stops feeding and looks at the speaker when anyone addresses Gretchen.