Fighting Fear

Confronting phobias and other fears

The National Baby Test

A missed opportunity for television.

There was a time when I served as a psychiatric consultant to a television program called “The Baby Game,” in which crawling babies competed with each other to be the first to reach their mothers who were jumping up and down at the other end of a rug. They also competed in other more subtle ways, none of which I remember, thank God. The producer suggested to me, when interest in this program began to falter—almost at once—that I devise a “Baby Test” for interpolation into the program. The following is the result of my efforts (which may have been influenced by the Marx Brothers movie I was watching at the time.) I think he may have had something else in mind, since the test was never used.

The “National Baby Test” (to be properly illustrated with drawings, slides etc.)

Naturally, parents have questions about the proper care of their children. Even the experienced parent can always learn a little more. For this reason the “National Baby Test” has been compiled--in hopes of providing that extra little margin of safety that so often makes the difference.

4 points for each correct answer

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

1.           What do you do when your two month old baby walks into the kitchen with an empty milk bottle and says, "l want some more, lady." 

A--Cut down on his salty foods.

B--Show an interest.

C—Pinch him until he learns to say "please."

D--Take away all his books-especially Oliver Twist.

E--None of the above.

Answer: (E) None of the above. This is an unusually gifted child, and he should be encouraged to develop his talents. He should be given work in a psychological laboratory or a circus, whichever pays more.

2.           Sister, who has a lot of healthy, natural aggression, likes to bite baby around the knees--which makes baby spit up a lot. What should you do?

A--Slap them both down quickly. This kind of thing can get out of hand.

B--Buy baby a bib.

C--Put sister back on a leash.

 D--Bring baby and sister together for a long talk. Explain about wars. Tie it in with the U.N.

Answer: (A) is the correct answer. If you don't stop this right away, next thing you know baby will be wetting himself, which can lead to prostate problems down the road.  

3.         Somehow baby has climbed into the dining room chandelier and hooked himself up with the lights. As a result, all the lights in the house are flickering and baby’s eyes have begun to twitch. What do you do?

A—Call your doctor if it persists.

B--Call your electrician.

C--Eat dinner on the patio.

D—Try to profit from the experience.

Answer: Actually, there is no simple answer to a complex problem of this sort.

4.       Your three year old son has been picked up for loitering on street corners and whistling at two year old girls. What do you do?

A—Talk it out.

B--Instruct your son in his legal rights.

C--Assault the police, if that doesn’t work, try being obsequious and cringing.

D—Set a good example by refraining from loitering on street corners and whistling at two year old girls.

Answer: The important thing is not to take this too lightly.

5.        Baby has taken to chasing small animals. Now he refuses to come down from the tree. What do you do?

 A--Learn to do without.

 B--Make intense threats and back them up with force.

 C--Act casual. Make idle talk. Bend over and seem to be looking for worms. Whistle a happy tune.

 D--This is an emergency-- act fast!

Answer: This is the kind of question that stumps the experts. In our national panel of 120 experts, 115 were stumped.  The others weren’t paying attention or were indifferent.

6.        Despite persistent warnings, baby has swallowed a bee. What now?

A-- Watch out because bees frequently travel in groups, and there may be more around.

B--Remain calm. In the long run much more is accomplished by those who remain calm than all the do-gooders who go running around espousing radical causes. (See “Homespun Wisdom,” page 37, paragraph two.)

C--Call the fire department. If they don’t respond right away, start a fire.

D--  One or a number of the above.

Answer: (D) is far and away the best answer. This whole situation is a bad one--bad for the baby and bad for the bee. It also looks very bad on the record. Contrary to folk medicine, bees contain very little vitamin C, despite their crunchy taste and tangy flavor.

Opinion Question --In the present age of automation and mass transit a substantial question has been raised about the advisability of putting babies in the overhead compartments.

Do you feel:     1.That the federal government should be moving faster in this field even if it means paying more taxes?

                        2. That the federal government is already moving too fast?

                        3. That people watch you from across the street?

70% of the people polled had an opinion on this question, and our panel of experts have also been doing a lot of hard thinking.

7.            Little brother has taken to playing with a doll which bears a striking resemblance to you. Also, he plays a lot with pins and needles. Oddly enough, he never seems to stick himself, while you have been experiencing sudden jabbing pains in various parts of your body. What to do?

A--Sudden jabbing pains are one of the first signs of cancer and should always be attended to immediately. Your first line of defense is dry heat and liniment. Drink a lot of tea.

B--Unless you're looking for big trouble, take the doll away. Boys who play with dolls become psychologically inverted. Get him a fire engine.

C--Pins and needles should always be kept out of the reach of young children lest they do themselves an injury. Abraham Lincoln once stuck his finger on a pin, and he died shortly thereafter.

D--A before B except after C.

Answer: The correct answer is (A). Don't feel bad if you missed it because it was a real poser. In our survey of apartment house employees 90% got the wrong answer. Most answered E or F.

4     .  Ever since baby disappeared, there have been reports of his being spotted in the company of the dog pack that has been terrorizing the neighborhood. There have been complaints. What do you do first?

A--Think it through.

B--Act casual. Make idle talk. Bend over and seem to be looking for worms. Whistle a happy tune.

C—This kind of stuff can't be tolerated. Tell your neighbors to mind their own business. This is still America.

D—Obscure the issue.

Answer--(A) Recently physicians have noticed a link between diseases and early child upbringing. Anyone with an early child needs to be especially vigilant.  

We are not going to present the passing score on this test. It was designed simply to make you think. If it has served to save only a single life, it will have been well worthwhile.

 

“The Baby Game” was cancelled after the first season. The producer might have thought that I was not serious enough in my role of consultant. In any case, he did not pay me. I had to sue him and won only after a ten year wait and a nail-biting trial that lasted a full week.(c) Fredric Neuman 2013 Follow Dr. Neuman's blog at fredricneumanmd.com/blog

Fredric Neuman, M.D. is the Director of the Anxiety and Phobia Center at White Plains Hospital.

more...

Subscribe to Fighting Fear

Current Issue

Just Say It

When and how should we open up to loved ones?