Holding Fast In The Wind Tunnel

If you work in a downtown area, you understand the wind tunnel effect.

IMG_1699In the world of weather, it’s almost never dead calm. There is usually some breeze, a gentle zephyr wafting across the rolling countryside. Except, when it reaches a downtown area, there’s no place for the gentle zephyr to go as it runs up against office buildings and other barriers. The breeze gets channeled and concentrated along rigid streets lines, and suddenly that gentle zephyr has been converted into a focused blast that snaps the flag on the flagpole and lifts hats from heads and sends them tumbling along the sidewalk.

Let’s just say that the wind tunnel effect especially sucks during the winter. On a gray winter’s day like today, with the temperature plummeting, the cold core of concentrated air cuts to the very core, congeals the blood, brings tears to the eyes and a moan to the lips. The wind finds every crevice in your winter garb, sneaks between the layers of scarf and coats, ices the foreheads and reddens the ears. Pedestrians walk carefully, leaning into the chilled air, hoping to hold fast in the wind tunnel and just make it to their cars.

During the winter, the wind tunnel can bite me — and it does.

Faking It Since The Crib

Some new research indicates that babies as young as seven months engage in fake crying episodes to get attention. Although the research is based on detailed observation of only two infants and evaluation of their apparent condition before and after crying, it confirms what many parents have always thought was true — at a very young age, children become adept at manipulating their parents. Interestingly, the study suggests that fake crying may be more prevalent when the baby has an older sibling and must use fake crying to compete for attention.

Babies who engage in fake crying must engage in some form of cause and effect analysis. At first they cry only when they are hungry or uncomfortable, and when they cry someone comes to help. The next analytical step is a big one — they decide that even if they aren’t hungry or uncomfortable, they can cry anyway . . . and then they see that someone will come and keep them company. It’s amazingly complex reasoning for an infant, and it also shows that the baby has realized that the universe is not an utterly random series of events. It’s part of the process of learning that the baby is an individual that can exercise some limited control over her surroundings. My guess is that that important realization occurs at an almost intuitive level.

As any parent knows, once the fake crying threshold is passed a child will push the envelope to determine the boundaries of what they can and cannot do — which is why the “terrible twos” are so terrible. The child learns that saying “no” to everything doesn’t work, that you can’t successfully lie about eating forbidden candy with chocolate all over your face, and other trial-and-error life lessons that get incorporated into the child’s persona. The responses change when the child ventures outside the family unit to play with other children and realizes that crying every time they suffer a reversal isn’t going to do anything except get them a reputation as a crybaby. Eventually the child is ready to dive into the much more complex relationships, emotional interplay, and power games of the teenage years and finally emerges as an adult, with scheming, conniving, “faking it” concepts well understood.

It’s fascinating, but not surprising, that “faking it” begins at such a tender age. The fake crying of the newborn is but the first step in a long process of learning how to successfully interact with the human beings around you. Because life is all about how you deal with people, the precise lessons learned from those “faking it” episodes are crucial.