Monday, July 11, 2011

Lesson (not?) Learned

At some point in ever parent's life, the job requirements slowly expand beyond the basics of getting your child to sleep and eat. Suddenly you have to find some way to make them suitable for a public foray in which no one goes limp, while kicking and screaming, "No! Go go away!" And like blindly navigating the Sleeping Through The Night terrain, this new land also seems to have no straightforward path.

They say that negative reinforcement and punishment don't have any long-term impact on children's behavior. Which sounds about right. If taking care of a dog taught me anything about parenting, it'd be that. Plus, I'd much rather "catch them being good" than follow some of the crazy/terrible advice I've read (ahem, Baby Wise. If you don't know why that book is the devil: omg read this.)

And when I'm not stressing out about my beautiful babies turning into demon spawn under my neglectful or inept watch, I'm usually falling in love all over again with the sweet girls. Maggie is full of giggles and Hannah says lots of "please," and "thank you"s, and a few, "I love you"s, and a random, "hmm, let me think." Hannah has stopped taking toys from Maggie and started bringing them to her ("Here go, Mannie"). And her new favorite thing is jumping up and down to make Maggie laugh that beautiful baby laugh. And I sometimes catch Hannah reaching over her car seat to hold Maggie's hand.

And then suddenly, "I love babies so much!" turns into "Maggie would make a great big sister, right?!"

And then you realize why negative reinforcement and punishment can be so futile to change behavior: The months of excruciating exhaustion, never-ending nausea, and random dry heaves at your desk, followed by the months of walking a screaming baby for hours every. Single. Night. The 18 months of not being able to drink or eat sushi. The inability to sleep in for, quite possibly, the rest of your life. The opportunity to book a last minute flight to a warm beach somewhere, long gone. You can't even buy groceries without factoring in nap schedules and melt-down provokers. And still. I am capable of thinking things like, babies are the best idea ever, let's have some more.

Obviously, I am in desperate need of someone praising me for not having babies or something.

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