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3V0233.02 Peek a boo and the car trunk lid: 9/12

PEEK-A-BOO AND THE CAR TRUNK LID — Wednesday (9/6), when we returned Miriam to school after her appointment with the allergist, Gretchen bought some groceries and left me with Peggy. Peggy was very unhappy, having missed her morning nap and needing a diaper change — impossible till we should arrive home. Do you leave a baby squalling away, abandoned in the back seat of your car? The temptation is very great. I played with Peggy for a while, fetching her rattle (that humanoid again) whenever she threw it away (or dropped it — a distinction hard to make in the circumstance of her intense feeling). One very effective distraction — when Peggy dropped her rattle near me, i picked it up by the “feet”, showed it to her at the edge of her car seat, then as she reached for it, I slipped the rattle under her car seat. Peggy was buckled into her car seat and couldn’t get out — but she strained hard, leaning over the edge of the seat, looking for the no longer present rattle. We did this several times because it worked. She could be interested enough to forget her misery of the moment.

Seeing Gretchen in line, I went behind the car to open the trunk. Peggy’s car seat was fastened facing backward on the back seat. With the lid raised and her crying, I stepped to one side to wave at her through the window, to reassure her she had not been abandoned — and we were once again at playing Peek-a-boo…with the trunk lid in place of a diaper. After Peeking out once, the further novelty of the situation was clear. The trunk lid had two sides. I now appeared on the opposite side, watching Peggy. She was watching the point of my disappearance intently — but caught sight of me at my reappearance on the opposite side and turned to me smiling. I smiled back, disappeared and reappeared at the original side. Peggy was still looking where last I was, but saw me. Next I disappeared at the right (the original side) and reappeared there, found her still looking..; disappeared and reappeared on the left, to which she turned immediately. I left to help Gretchen with the groceries.

RELEVANCE — The first incident shows Peggy’s grasp of object permanence in the context of visible/invisible domains of space (cf. Piaget OIC, obs.____). The second observation is a naturally occurring analog of an object disappearing behind a screen — but with the difference that the permanent object, me, has its own motives for appearing in one place or another. Even observing that Peggy always looked to the right, we should ask — where should she look? If objects appear and disappear in ways one can’t explain, wouldn’t it be an easy theory to attribute to them some lesser quantum of will than those adults who loom so large in the infant’s life?
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– circumstantial problems impel parents to distract infants
– interest is at the zone of proximal development
– parents provide instruction whether they intend to or want to or not

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