To understand anything about a sample you have to know how variable it is. Is everyone close to the average? Are people all over the place? Are there just a few data points that are crazy? It’s the cornerstone of experimental social science. And other kinds of science, I hear.
One of the joys of Baby Hoarding is getting to observe the variability in my own sample. My adorable little data points are fairly close to each other for some behaviors, like sleeping well and being awesome.
But there are other places where they are highly variable, like how driven Bunlet is to figure out how things work, including inconvenient things like door knobs, and how much Bun Bun loves being read to and how much Bunlet only wants things pointed out in the pictures. A particularly salient case is the floor bed.
When Bun Bun was about 16 months old, we moved her from her crib to a floor bed: She slept great. We figured we’d gotten her at just the right moment, so YAY US! We are the smartest. When Bunlet was about 16 months old, we tried a floor bed for him. His favorite place on earth is Bun Bun’s bed. He loves nothing better than to be tucked into it, so surely he was telling us that he was ready! I mean, Check It. Is this baby not ready for a bed?
Disaster. He was ready for a bed…HER bed. And she was not willing to share. After finding him exhausted and sobbing in the laundry basket I gave up. Not ready! No problem. We’ll try again later. But what was most striking to me is the fact that she never realized she could get up, and it was immediately apparent to him that he could. (Of course, the obvious explanation is that she was alone in her room, whereas he saw her getting up, so he realized it was an option. But he also saw her lying there compliantly, and he did not choose to imitate that behavior.)
The variability is amazing, and it’s also humbling. I mean, I don’t think I’m a SUPER smug parent. But yeah, some times I was pretty pleased with my awesome self. I like to experiment, and when something works, it’s natural to see causality. And now I have to face the fact that when something works, it may not be the result of my brilliant parenting. I always gave a lot of credit to luck. But maybe not enough to random chance.