It’s Ok to Conduct Science Experiments on Your Children, Right?
|December 6, 2013||Posted by Jennifer under Mommyhooddom|
There’s probably a law against this. At a minimum, it’s probably in the “What Not To Do” chapter of every parenting book ever written. I don’t plan to make it a habit, but I did a little science experiment on my two-year-old the other day.
Now I didn’t hook him up to the Christmas lights or anything like that. It wasn’t a physical experiment, it was (wiggles fingers menacingly) psychological.
So, this terrible two business I’ve been dealing with lately…I decided to take matters into my own hands and see if I could snap him out of the behavior cycle he’s been repeating several times a day.
It goes like this:
I devised an experiment to see if I could cure my two-year-old of his terrible twos.
(Go ahead. I’ll wait while you finish laughing.)
He’s my only child so of course I would think such nonsense. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. My body of maternal wisdom wouldn’t fill the tip of a sippy cup.
But they say ignorance is bliss. So I figured I didn’t really have anything to lose and since he can’t dial a smartphone, who would know if it went horribly wrong.
Anywho, my plan was simple: I was going to kill him with kindness, lavish him with undivided attention, speak less and listen more, cater to his every want, whim, wish and desire. Serve him like His Royal Highness Upon High. Then, if he still acted like a little crazy possessed person, I could drop him off at the fire station with a clean conscience.
“I tried my best, Captain. I really did. He likes mac & cheese and Blue’s Clues by the way.”
So early one morning, I launched:
Terrible Two Clinical Psyche Trial 1.0
I let him nurse as long as he wanted in bed (we co-sleep) and then we played with his stuffed animals for AN HOUR! Yes, I held my pee the entire time… well most of it.
Instead of doing my normal morning chores after we got out of bed, I followed Baby B straight into the
living room play room where we started with Thomas and his Friends. I let him be Thomas. I was Gordon. Oh the indignity.
I listened while he talked. I didn’t try to change the subject. Instead, I calmly yet enthusiastically responded to everything he said with my full undivided attention. I let his little mind wander around the Island of Sodor, through the forest with Dora, up to the North Pole, and back into Blue’s thinking chair.
I made sure he knew I wasn’t going anywhere for as long as he wanted me there. Anything he asked me to do, play, be, or say, I complied with cheerily and without hesitation. If he threw a toy, I gently reminded him that we don’t throw toys, but I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I maintained good eye contact with my subject the entire time and I kept my attention focused more on him than on the toys and what we were doing with them.
About 20 minutes into our double-blind controlled research study, I could tell by his relaxed body language that he didn’t feel the least bit frustrated or otherwise on the verge of any sort of meltdown. He was, dare I say — HAPPY. At one point, he even came over and hugged me. What a nice side effect that was!
I noticed a change in myself as well. Normally when I play with Baby B, I’m into it for a while and then my mind starts to wander. I can’t help it. I get bored. I find myself saying things like, “Let’s play with this toy now” or “You do that and I’ll do this” or I’ll ask him to entertain ME by singing a song or reciting the alphabet. Even then, I’ll still reach for my phone to check Facebook or the weather, dividing my attention and probably not sending him the best message.
But for this experiment, I gave him 150% of myself. I was what they would say, “fully present” and it was actually pretty nice. Instead of thinking about the laundry that I needed to do or how thirsty I was, I thought only about my son. And, I let go of the notion that I had to LOVE every minute of playtime.
What I discovered is that I’m a lot more interested in showing Baby B that I think he’s important and that his thoughts matter (discombobulated though they may be sometimes) than I am in playing with trains. Going around and around in a circle is not really my idea of fun. Watching my terrible two-afflicted son relax, laugh, and bask in the light of his mother’s undivided loving attention on the other hand, is awesome fun. I can do that.
Not all the time, of course. We do have to eat, and our personal chef still hasn’t shown up yet, that slacker.
I really do think it would serve both of us well if I took a little more time every day to plant my feet with Baby B. I would be totally insane if I thought I could cure him of his Terrible Twos, however. I realize there are things going on inside his developing brain that don’t exactly all jive yet, but I know this: after my “experiment,” I saw a much more chill toddler than I had seen in a while.
Now that I think about it, I could sure use some undivided loving attention from my mother. I remember what it did for me. How she could calm me, soothe me when I felt frustrated or on the verge of a meltdown. She was the Jedi Master of making me feel important and loved. And she did it by exacting a laser focus, an attention so in tune with my psyche, she knew what I was thinking and feeling before I did.
I wonder if she conducted the same experiment on me when I was two.
What experiments have you done on your kids?