Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tug-of-War


When I saw this article about a baby-proof, easy-grasp case for your iPhone, I gave a loud snort. 

I heartily agree you can't fool babies with imitations and distractors. Baby wants that iPhone because it is a coveted possession - perhaps cradled and given as much care as Baby himself. What Mommy cherishes and protects must be awesome -- so I WANT IT! 

Back in the olden days when my Susan had babies (long before iPhones, shortly after the invention of electricity), the coveted item was Mommy's Keys. There was no way sensible Susan was going to hand over her keys - she has enough trouble tracking them. But she quickly realized that her baby Boy#1 wasn't fooled by plastic toy car keys. And really, who would be tricked?  Baby keys look nothing like real car keys.  


So she gave Baby#1 a set of real keys -- old keys long since separated from their locks but offering nonetheless  a satisfying jangle and tang of metal. It took Baby#1 about three minutes to realize These are Not the Keys I Want. Of course, if my Susan had carried around the plastic baby keys, nestled them safely in her Forbidden Handbag and set them high out of Baby's reach, they would have transformed in a wondrous Gimme Item.

Puppies are no different from human babies. The Stick They Want is simply the stick the other dog possesses. Getting the stick isn't about the stick. And if the other dog simply gives them the stick and or loses interest in it, that stick is no longer worthy. 

Tug-of-war is about winning. The rope is just a rope.
Possession is most fun when achieved through speed, strength or good old cunning. But if a puppy's current skill set is no match for a stronger, faster, bigger, smarter dog, then it never hurts to roll out the big guns of begging and whining. If that works, Puppy will make begging and whining the go-to tools and voil√° - a whiny dog is born!

Of course, a Top Dog can keep the stick with a mere stare. Every sensible dog knows the difference between a game of tug-of-war and No, Don't Even THINK About It.

What elicited my loud snort this morning was the lengths that parents will go through to avoid being Top Dog. Why not just say no? Susan assures me there are other factors at play here - and that I have never had puppies so I should not preach about parenting. But would you give Baby a Sharpie marker? (How could you deny her right to express herself?) How about a lighter? (Pretty lights!) Some coffee - cooled, of course? (Yummy for Mommy, Baby wants some too!)

It must be said that babies don't need to poke at $600 iPhones. 

And no, having some private, on-screen, giggle-trading with Grandma  is not really a relationship builder when one of the conversationalists is mostly intent on poking random buttons and banging the phone on the carseat. Most likely the Face Time Grandma is going to get is some up-close and virtual Slobber Tongue Time with Baby. 

And for the 36 month old "baby", basic phone etiquette (don't lick or hurl the phone) has presumably been taught. What parent of a preschooler would take the time to snap their phone in a bulky, baby-proof case for a chat with Grandpa? They probably lost that $15 iPhone case two years ago...

Don't even get me started on babies learning with interactive software. Babies are better off chewing on sticks.

Or tearing paper with non-virtual Daddy.

1 comment:

  1. Your point about Sharpies, lighters and coffee made me think of @maggiekb1 's recent solicitation of science questions from toddlers (or perhaps preschoolers). Here's one: "If little kids got drunk, why is it bad? What if it was only once?"

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