A Lesson in Infant Development

It was 6:40 am and three children – aged 6, 7, and 9 – were in attendance. They were discussing activity options in an effort to find one that they all agreed on.  Much of the discussion centered on competition and power.  These three do not like to play independently but they all want to be the leader in group activities.

They ruled out dinosaurs because they couldn’t agree on who would control the strongest dinosaurs.  They briefly played with cars but there was a disagreement about which vehicle was the fastest.  I tried to explain that it didn’t matter what speed the vehicle was capable of because none of them would be allowed to drive over the speed limit I had set.  They just stared at me and then decided to switch to another activity instead.

No puppet show, no music band, no restaurant, no crafts.  It was beginning to look like they would never agree on one activity and then someone suggested ‘Let’s play Babies’ and there was a unanimous cheer – well, almost unanimous, I cringed and tried to look busy with other work.  If you want to know why ‘Playing Babies’ makes me shudder you can read about it here.

Once the ’parent’ role was assigned they began to negotiate the age of the babies in the game.  When they play this game they consider the power role to be the youngest of the babies – probably because they think that excuses them from more rules and therefore they can be more disruptive.  Sigh.

They decided the babies were both one month old and as the parent was attempting to care for them the babies were crawling around and fighting.  I intervened.

“You can’t do that” I said

“Can’t do what?” they asked

“Crawl, sit, argue, throw things – pretty much anything”

“Why?”

“You said you were only one month old and a one month old baby can’t do any of that stuff”

“What can they do?”

I printed off an infant development chart like the one here.  They read the list for the first month and the ‘babies’ tried to imitate each item. Their favourite was ‘Strong grasp reflex present’ the parent almost couldn’t escape.

The babies were now two months old and were practicing lifting their heads to 45 degrees when lying on stomach.  They began making noises other than crying and their cries became more distinctive.  The parent lamented “I can’t wait until this crying stage is over”.

Through my tears (from laughter) I informed them that it was time to get ready for school.  Playing Babies will have to continue later.  Maybe I don’t find this game so annoying anymore. 🙂

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