Placebo First Aid

Every incident requires a bandaid. A wipeout in the road causes a scrape. The fix is a bandaid. An imperceptible maybe jammed finger requires one too. It hurts. Therefore it needs a bandaid.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In this case, causation doesn’t matter. What matters is how to make it feel better. Early on, I found much success in kisses. They were an accepted method of restoring health for not serious wounds. The more real injuries Fleur obtained, the less acceptable kisses were to hurts.

Placebos are powerful tools for healing. The brain being suggestible can run with them and cause impressive healing. Medicine accounts for them in efficacy studies as any time the patient believes in the cure, they can heal.

Our placebo bandaid are a cheap box of 100 I found. They barely stick. And fall off after a few hours. Just after the toddler has forgotten about the injury. In fact, if the complaint persists past the placebo bandaid, then I misjudged the injury.

People!

Ms. Fleur’s Neighborhood:

We go on a walk every day in the neighborhood. Well, less so now that summer has arrived. The available time will get earlier and earlier every day that we can without needing to take a shower right after it.

Fleur has gotten to know the neighbors. We are all starved for social interaction. She gets excited to see people. Familiar neighbors or strangers, it doesn’t matter they are people.

She is human. (More so than me.) So as a social creature, she craves social interaction.

Flower child

Fleur enjoys picking the wildflowers along our walks in the neighborhood. Most are coming to an end of the season. So I don’t know how excited she will be for the walks.

We try to limit her picking to one so some remain for the bees and the next walk. And to limit her to wildflowers. Clover, daisies, and dandelions.

The love of picking also extends to blueberries.

Garbage Truck!

Fleur loves trucks. Especially the garbage trucks. There are commercial trucks coming through the neighborhood Tuesday through Friday. I can yell “Garbage truck!” and she comes ru.n.n.ing to the living room window to watch them get a trash and put the contents in the truck.

I never see her run that fast. Not when she is hurt. Not when she is scared. Not when she is upset. Just when she is the most excited she can possibly be. About a garbage truck.

She also loves the package delivery vans (UPS, FedEx, Amazon) and mail trucks. One neighbor washes delivery vans in their yard. She can watch that for as long as that takes. Her week was made one day to be allowed NEXT to the delivery van.

This particular interest was unexpected. But, we did take her to see the firetrucks and other large vehicles at a park back when she was just walking. It was amusing to see her fascinated by these things both then and now.

Repetition => Belief

The toddler and I often debate whether something is a whale or a shark. It makes people who know me well happy that I have a personality mini-me. Often, these descend into:

Fleur: shark
Me: whale
Fleur: shark!
Me: whale!
Fleur: shaaaaaaaark!
Me: whaaaaaaaale!

This got me thinking about persuasion and the effective use of repetition. We tend to overlook it because we think that simplistic things we know and understand are reasonable. And frankly, the only way it could be. They are facts. Objective. The way things are. However, repetition has a sneaky way of becoming things we know and establish in our heads as facts. This is the Illusory Truth Effect messing with us.

Water bearer

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I find myself carrying things for Fleur. Typically, it is her water bottle…

  • To where she is playing
  • With us outside to play
  • On a walk
  • After taking away her access to the sink
  • For a babydoll

Okay, the last one is fake water. But, still, it is important.

The spouse keeps well hydrated and Fleur seems to have the same need. So, we try to ensure she has enough. And, she tends to get cranky if we fail to keep up with it.

It also means there are a few bottles with fresh water around the house as we lose track of the one she was using and just fill a new one. Thankfully, we have plenty of them.

Years ago, I ran into a college friend with his wife and kids at brunch. I noticed one of the kids left their water bottle after they left so I ran to get it back to them. At the time, I assumed that surely that is like their one bottle. Nope, they had around dozen to cover both kids. So, being one down would not be catastrophic. Being a parent now, whenever I find myself frustrated with being able to find a water bottle, I check the sales and get another couple.

In adding the “hydration” tag to this post, I noticed the suggestion carbohydrates. This is perhaps the first time I noticed the root hydrate and connected them. Carbo- means Carbon. Hydrate means an Oxygen atom plus two Hydrogen atoms. So, carbohydrates, aka sugars, more literally are sooty-water. Lol!

Mine

Fleur is well full on into the “Mine” stage. Some of the recent claims:

  • Our seats in the living room. She runs to the spot you normally take and claims it with “My seat.” (I swear it sounds more like “My sheet.”)
  • She scoops up your smartphone and runs to several feet away and declares. “My phone.”
  • Her beach / soccer / dodge / basket balls. She holds it toward you and lets you know, “My ball.”

The funniest thing to me is how she repeatedly declares it. Even when you reply with “your ball”, she still repeats it as though you are going to take it.

I think I need to take up more random objects whose names she does not often say and claim them. It seems like a good way to get her to say the word.

Flow

Flow happens when you do something that completely captures your attention. A lot of people would call this “being in the zone,” in other words: full absorption in something and complete happiness while you’re doing it.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

For me, this has always occurred while writing / editing, playing video games, or solving a computer problem. I also find it while driving, which is why I always enjoyed going places far away. A crutch I use is familiar music to drown out sounds that might distract me.

But, yeah, achieving the happiness of being in Flow is as worthy as the product that might be produced. I can say that I work in IT in part because I enjoy the feeling of being in Flow and having some skill in the work allows me opportunities for doing work that gets me there.

Working from the office has numerous distractions from flow because of emails, instant messages, people stopping by, phone calls. They all interrupt flow and it takes around 15 minutes to get back into it. People try to be respectful of others.

Working from home is worse:

Flow, unfortunately, is rare in family life. The father of flow research, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, told me so point-blank when I wrote my book. (All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood) When kids are small, their developing brains actually conspire against flow, because they’re wired to sweep in as much stimuli as possible, rather than to focus; even when they’re older, they’re still churning windmills of need.

Camp Is Canceled. Three More Months of Family Time. Help. Jennifer Senior. NY Times

The toddler needs what she needs RIGHT NOW! Some times it is funny. Like, there is an obsession with trucks, especially the garbage trucks. (One comes through the neighborhood every week day. She comes flying to a window to see it stop or pass by.) Other times she is just cranky and infecting the rest of us with it.

Shortcuts: Labeling (repost)

These are reposts of a series I did years ago on mental shortcuts.

Recently, Fleur and I have been having debates on the proper label for some pictures. I call them whales whereas she calls them sharks because they look like the animations from Baby Shark. Instead of a post about that, I decided to repost this series.

(This post is part of a series. Intro > 1. Illusions > 2. Labeling > 3. Math > 4. Multitasking > 5. Rules)

Homo Sapiens Sapiens cheated evolution in one critical way by creating language. Rather than rely totally on instincts passed along by genes, we pass along an enormous amount of information to our proteges through memes. These may not even be the descendants of our genes. In working together on something, we share enormous amounts of information.

Everything including physical objects, ideas, and behaviors all have a label. Sometimes more than one. A label is a way of identifying something without having to go into the gory details of explaining it every time. (Like I just did.) I can call something an “apple” and anyone who understand this word knows what I mean. Labels bring efficiency to language. Until it does not.

Framing and metaphors are a couple of the tools behind labels. Through them labels acquire properties which then influence how we think. We can be manipulated by these thoughts simply by others choosing one label or the other. A great experiment has test takers write random number at the top. The larger the number, the better the test takers did on the test. How a question is phrased in a poll skews the responses. When we use metaphors also we constrain our thinking. Using the metaphor of a clockwork universe makes us think of mechanical devices and how everything around us are such devices.

Maybe English is a special case. Between Frisian (the ancestral language that make English belong to the Germanic family) and French from the Norman Invasion, English has multiple words for things. Throw in the Melting Pot that is the United States with making up jargon for everything. This language is an absurd mixture of strange meanings. Certain words like “set” have so many definitions one needs to hear or read it in context to understand it.

Then we also have LABELS. LABELS are also labels but have the special nature of how we classify other people. They are how we split people up into groupings to say one is not like another. White vs Black. Extrovert vs Introvert. East Coast vs West Coast. Democrat vs Republican. All are arbitrary. Many are misunderstood. They drift into caricature stereotypes causing hurt. This is where our -Isms arise. Nationalism, racism, or sexism would have no place without powerfully overly broad LABELS. As our conversations become more mature, we need more and more LABELS to express the nuances even while others resist change.

We need labels in order to communicate with each other. We just need to recognize their fallibility. And somehow avoid hurting each other while expressing ourselves.

(This post is part of a series. Intro > 1. Illusions > 2. Labeling > 3. Math > 4. Multitasking > 5. Rules)

Daddy’s Little Helper

dad with kid dishwashing at kitchen

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

The other day we went out to play. I grabbed a towel to dry off the slide, swings, and chairs. After watching me dry the slide and finding there was still some water, Fleur walked over to the towel, grabbed it, and dried the slide more. 

The blatant imitation had me tempted to roll around in the wet grass laughing. But, I was proud of the problem solving at play here. She totally assessed the problem, decided on the solution, and took care of it. It makes me excited and terrified for the future.

  1. She is developing the capability to do things we want her to all by herself.
  2. She is developing the capability to do things we don’t want her to all by herself.