Wednesday, August 26, 2009

some call it transparency, others, TMI

For the record, two and a half is wearing me down. Also? I have no idea what I'm doing.

The thing is, I have enough training in behavioral analysis to generally figure out roughly why my child is acting like a rabbid baboon. But the difference between teaching and parenting is that parents don't get to clock out. Which is to say, for example, yes, I can cognitively reason that my son is biting to seek my attention. But when his brother is wailing and Asher is grinning, what do I do? Walk right into it. Completely divert all of my attention from the injured boy to the offender, when the reality is if I would no longer reward that behavior with my attention the biting would decrease. (Though the problem with decreasing a behavior by ignoring it is that the behavior is going to increase before it decreases, the way we will bang the button on the coke machine fourteen bajillion times before accepting that our quarters will not be honored as payment for a drink this time around. Still, my current response is only reinforcing the inappropriate behavior, which guarantees it will happen again ...)

This, friends, is why certified behavioral analysts make A LOT of money. SHAPING BEHAVIOR IS EXHAUSTING. It is also HARD and requires changing my own behaviors first.

And what's noteworthy about the biting example is how completely normal, completely unremarkable it is. Biting and pushing occur every day, especially in moments when my attention is diverted (such as on the phone or talking to a neighbor).

This is why I haven't updated you more on Asher. Because I'm still riding the tidal wave of toddlerhood, and I'm just not sure what to tell you about it.

He's delightful. Inquisitive, imaginative. Wanting to be a part of whatever his parents are doing - running for his toy tools when Brian pulls out a screwdriver, stacking up his kitchen toys on the counter beside mine, making up silly stories. Perfectly enthralling, until he's not - until he's sobbing on the floor (for FORTY FIVE MINUTES) while I leave him alone with his dad to run a quick errand, or until he's pushing his brother down AGAIN because he was so bold as to stand beside him. In short, he's a live wire. Approach with caution.

I'm pretty sure that doesn't make him terrible nearly so much as it makes him two. (As an aside, I had a moment last week when I realized - OH MY WORD I HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN! Silas won't be one forever, though if wishing made it so ...) And in raising him I'm aware of my own blaring shortcomings - my inconsistency, my impatient tone, my weighted sighs. I want more than anything to protect my child from problems or pain, but I'm more aware than ever that that is simply not possible. Especially not when MY ATTITUDE is the problem he's having to face.

It goes without saying that I love him, and either way I'm glad for the time I get to spend with my children. For better or worse, I'm glad to be the one shaping his behavior, rather than someone else. But when I'm standing in the bathroom, realizing that he has ONCE AGAIN climbed OFF the potty to intentionally pee on the floor, or listening to his screams from time-out - again - because he hit/threw/bit/pushed someone ... maybe that's not the best moment to ask me how two is going. Or maybe it is. Depends on the answer you want to hear.

That's all I've got. Happy Wednesday.


ljkgates said...

You are a wonderful mom, hang in there it will get better.
I LOVE the picture of Silas with the sun glasses on. Where did baby Silas go?

Madame Rubies said...

My boys are not toddlers anymore. Long past it. And, they have recently decided violence is the answer to their issues with one another. Grounding them to seperate rooms helps my sanity but as soon as they are together again (literally, within minutes) they have pushed/hit/kicked each other and gotten grounded again. At this rate, they will complete the school year without being together for more than 3 consecutive minutes.

Got any creative ideas?

steffj89 said...

they all have their moments. my older two boys ar 5 and 6 ten monthss apart. i also have an 8 mo old.
i spent the years until my middle one was about 3 and a half praying all three of us would survive.
but now i am realizing how much i had forgotten about babyproofing and that
it will getbetter in many ways i totally feel the biting/hitting etc i would like to tell you they totally grw out of it but my boys seem to go thru stages where daring to breathe in the same zip code setss off WWIII and then the opposte where they are so tight you couldnt put a Q tip between them. but the best is watching both of them with the baby....
glad to know i am not the only one with the intellect /background to understand it all but be at a loss as to how to fix it sometimes...
that sometimes is harder on me emotionally than watching what they are goin thru because i feel like I should be able to make it easier with the tools I have and yet it never turns off.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say you write beautifully, was truely laughing out loud. Found your post through my cousin (Michelle Reader) blog. Could not stop reading & laughing.

My SWEET SWEET girl went through an extreme biting "challenge" when 2 3/4 (now 4). Eats veggies w/o asking, sez please & thank you, so was shocked when got calls 4 days in a row about biting @ school (bad, not a nip - NO biting)... Was horrified when asked is everyhing ok @ home ? Only thing could even think of was bored/no longer being challenged in class w/ younger kids. Moved her into 3 year old room & biting stopped. Of ourse was now no longer top dog/one of the oldest in class but really think mainly no longer bored, had new things to learn, new challenges to focus attention on... Even the best kids & best parents have a bad times.

Thank you for sharing your story ! I must say boys are though in the early years. Pray for me in 11 years when the girl factor kicks in... Now preg. w/ twin girls.
Sid Olsen

Jamie said...

I love the title of this.
I prefer transparancy. I think I"m the queen of it. I should get a t-shirt made.
In the midst of the moments where I look at Andrew and think, "Am I raising a monster or is he just being two?" a little voice in my heart says, "Jamie, you prayed for a happy, healthy boy and I gave you one. So, chill out...and then go pull him down from that shelf before he knocks all of the glass jars of spaghetti sauce into isle 5 and you will never be able to show your face in Publix again..."

Peace, Momma.

Marie said...

We get whining here(yes, I think the biting is better, except the having the protect the target part). Toughest thing for me is that I know I need to give extra attention to the whiner during the good times, but, yes, as a mom of young kids you tend to put out fires all day and it's hard to ignore the urgent for the important. It's a bear. Best to you getting through to the next stage.