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.