Positive Reinforcement

I worry (SURPRISE!) about E and N’s relationship.  My attempts to encourage sibling love (or less sibling rivalry) center around not correcting E every time he interacts with his baby sister.  Because who wants to hang out with the person that you’re always DOING IT WRONG around?  (Unless you have that masochistic, insecure streak, and I, at the very least, hope to not foster THAT in my children.)

I mention this offhandedly to my pediatrician (no, not my husband. our actual PEDIATRICIAN) and he says, equally offhandedly: For every reprimand or correction, a child needs 2-3 positive comments.

And now I’m obsessed.

Okay, what number am I on?  Oh no! I need 16 positive comments, it’s only 9 a.m., and I still need to dissuade E from using N’s head as a trampoline for his small metal cars.

E, sweetie, you are doing such a good job IGNORING ME.

Wow, you are quick on your feet.

You are also VERY strong.

And your aim is QUITE accurate.

Thank you for getting me a towel to clean up the BLOOD.

Hey, I get it. 19 people say I’m doing a great job.  The 20th calls me an idiot.  And now I need 19 more people to convince me that I’M OKAY.

I recently had gum surgery (as if you didn’t know with my 27 status updates, tweets, and a blog post complete with pictures).  And MONTHS ago, the doctor recommends an electric toothbrush.  Well, I’ve tried these newfangled thingymabobbers before and I am NOT a fan.  So I ignore the advice.

But I HAPPEN to mention it to my hubby who leaves it alone for the past several months.  In fact, he leaves it alone until last week, when I also happen to mention that I’m supposed to have gum surgery AGAIN. (Gee, how’d THAT slip my mind?)  I’m not sure if I’m a very bad patient or he just doesn’t want a toothless wife in 10 years, because that VERY night, he picks up a fancy electric toothbrush.  With a fancy wireless display that you attach to the mirror.

I tease him about the sheer ridiculousness of the toothbrush with lights and timers and blinky things.  I think aloud: this’ll last a four days.  Until the display smiles at me.

I brush my teeth for two minutes, broken down into thirty seconds intervals, and I get the SMILEY FACE!  I get the GO ALEX!  You brushed your teeth correctly for the first time in 31 years!  YAY!

And now, all I want is that SMILE.  Even though there is a section of my mouth that I cannot even brush (don’t worry the prescription mouth wash they gave me can kill a small bird as well as all the bacteria that cause bad breath), I still go for two minutes.  Twice a day.  And take pictures.

It did occur to me that I could just leave the toothbrush on after I’m done and still get the smiley face.  But that’s not very honest.  Mostly just pathetic.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

2 thoughts to “Positive Reinforcement”

  1. I hate the dentist. I cringe in fear at the thought of having to go. In the past I have made Robby schedule the dental trip and not tell me until the day before so I won't have a nervous stomach for a week. I tell you this because I can relate to the ignoring of the surgery and the advice (“No, you don't HAVE to floss. You only have to floss the teeth you want to keep,”). My husband has impeccable dental hygiene while I have reoccurring nightmares of my teeth falling out. So Alex, “You are doing a great job! Keep it up!” (I am throwing confetti)

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