3V0180.06 Surfaces. Precursor to the object concept:
later development from “surface fascination” of early infancy 07/22/78

This afternoon, I tried to jollify Peggy while Gretchen and the older children went to the beach. We played for 20 minutes or more. I was interested in seeing how well Peggy could sit up. With my lap horizontal, she most frequently and quickly fell flat on her face. As I inclined my lap a little she became able to balance in a “sitting” position. During this time, Peggy’s interest was quite different from mine. She was trying to pluck away my belt from my clothes. She focused on this task for at least 10 minutes. When I attempted to distract her with the favorite teething ring, she plucked at the belt with the teether in hand (the white rubber, multi-nipple ring), appearing to pry at the belt with the teether. What do I make of this activity?

I see this as a physical verification of a figure/ground distinction. the inch-and-a-half brown leather belt was set off against a white T- shirt and gray and red plaid pants. The brass buckle was obvious also. If it appeared so obviously distinct to Peggy, should not she have been puzzled that it would not come away at her tugging? The long duration of her interest testifies that there was something in this situation which engages an issue she is working on. Could this have been puzzling as a potential counter-example to a strong “separate object” hypothesis? I believe so and see this issue as pointing forward to the development of the object concept and backwards to the surface-scratching, flower- pattern-plucking activities observed previously.

I interrupted Peggy by turning her away from me, still on my lap. She reached out toward the chair arm. I played “peek-a-boo” with the chair arm by draping a diaper over and covering it. Peggy reached out, plucked off the diaper, dropped it, then proceeded with her examination of the chair arm, which has both wooden and material (integral) parts.

Finally I returned Peggy to upright sitting in my lap. When she again started working on the belt, I undid the buckle. She brought the long leather end to her mouth and chewed on it longer than I liked (did the tanning leave chemical residues that would be bad for her?)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email