Damn You Object Permanence

About a month ago, something happened with Will that made it that much more difficult to manage him.

You see, babies are stupid. Well, not so much stupid as they just haven’t developed certain cognitive capabilities. Namely, if you put something in front of them they grab it and they chew it and they study it like it is the most exhilarating and fascinating thing they have ever seen. And when its time to take said object away, you’d think the baby would be upset right? Well, only for a second. Because once you put the object out of sight…POOF…they forget all about it. Because to an infant, something that is out of sight does not exist.

This is a great thing because kids only play with things they’re not supposed to be playing with. Remote controls, batteries, nuclear weapons of mass destruction. So when you take it away, they’re only upset for a few seconds as you hide it and they focus their attention on some other shiny object and forget it even existed. Basically, babies are like that guy from the movie Memento whose memories are wiped clean after just a few minutes.

But last month, everything changed.

Will had once again taken the TV remote and tried to eat it. Then he dropped it on the ground and the back of it exploded with the batteries spilling out. I put it all back together and simply put it under the blanket on the couch where he couldn’t see it. Then I went back to the kitchen to continue what I had been doing.

A couple of minutes later I heard Will chewing on something so I looked over. I stopped dead in my tracks because the little bugger had a hold of the remote control again. He had rummaged through the blanket and found it. So I took it away from him again, but this time I put it high up on a shelf well out of his reach. And that’s when it happened…


He screamed and cried and wailed away, all the while looking up in the area where I had stashed the remote. He couldn’t see it, but he knew damn well it was there. I tried to give him one of his toys but he wasn’t having it. It was the remote control or nothing at all.

Since that day I’ve been cursing Jean Piaget’s theory of object permanence and my son’s development. And yes, I know his normal development is a good thing, but tell that to my patience and sanity. Now he knows what he’s missing when we take it away from him. And when we leave the room, he often cries like crazy because he knows we exist even though we’re out of sight.

Unlike my wife who cries when I come IN the room!

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13 thoughts on “Damn You Object Permanence

  1. LOL! This is definitely the most trying stage yet… My husband has the same frustration with remotes. He tried giving our daughter one for a tv that we no longer have, but that’s not good enough – she knows which one works! Same for the wireless Playstation controller – if it doesn’t make Daddy leap after her in a panic, she’s not interested!

  2. LMAO!! Wills development as a baby in relation to Piagets theory is only slightly less amusing than your development as a parent in relation to Pavlov’s theory.

  3. This has been going on with us too… We got a P.O.S. cheapo remote (no batteries) and that is HIS remote… At least it occupies him enough to think he has your remote and then quickly loses interest in it… Now we need to find a cell phone, because he guns for those like crazy. Toy ones don’t work…

  4. If you give him the remote we bought him for Xmas, you won’t have these problems! 🙂

  5. Toy remotes and toy cell phones do nothing for Will after a couple of minutes. He seems to realize they are of zero consequence and he goes after the ones that we want. How the hell do they know??

  6. Sarah+2girls is right. They do (or at least used to) make remotes and things that look pretty real. The thing is, as soon as kids see that you never use it to change the channel (or start the car, or whatever) they decide it isn’t much fun anymore. I would invest in some cardboard boxes & wooden spoons. Seriously.

  7. @ Jenn

    That reminds me of the Christmas my 3 wee little heathens cast aside all the cool electronic gadgets, expensive toys and items they had begged for, to play with a set of wooden shapes. For 2 solid months these children wanted nothing to do with anything save those blocks. If they hadn’t gradually lost the pieces they would probably have recreated Buckingham Palace by now, lol.

  8. This is a good lesson for parents because the remote being taken away and then a tantrum is something you can rest assure will be occuring for the rest of his child hood and probably beyond. Take TV time away=cry. Take playtime away=cry, take things dangerous things away=cry…fun fun!

    We have footage of David happily walking around the coffee table with the remote (in circles). I think in half of his photos around 10 months the remote was in his hands! My daughter is now 6 months and lunging for my cell phone, home phone and remote. It won’t be long before I hide those and hear the tantrums.

    Thanks for reminding me what I have to look for!

  9. So now you’re not comparing / competing for developmental superiority. I don’t understand, you must be confusing your midget.(sorry non P.C.)Little Person….

  10. Get used to it. When he’s older and you take away his cell phone for misbehaving at school, I’m sure he’ll pitch a fit then, too.

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