Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Unpredictable Rewards

There was a really fascinating article on Slate (Parents are Junkies) a while back that compared parents to addicts. Basically, the unpredictable rewards kids give their parents (in the form of hugs and giggles) are similar to the random flow of quarters from a slot machine. If we knew slot machines would spit out quarters reliably, they'd be a lot less fun or exciting. So we are willing to put up with the streaks of losses (or screaming, yelling, and mess-making) in the hopes of those random jackpots.

I thought of this article this morning when Cork got up early to make a cute breakfast for everyone. Except Hannah had a rough morning, and the breakfast got cold, and Cork got frustrated. It made me sad to see everyone trying so hard but where are the freaking quarters? I don't even need a jackpot. Just a little something. ANYTHING!

But the thing that makes babies different from slot machines is, well, everything. But in this analogy, unlike the quarters you lose in the slot machine, the casino doesn't keep your parenting "losses." Your kid keeps them. So they aren't really losses. You just have to have a little faith. Some day Hannah may pat your back, and say she loves you, and tell you a story about a time when she was little and you made her that special breakfast. Or she'll tell you about the time that you hit her (you totally didn't). Either way. But my point is, you're making a difference even when it feels like you're not. 


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