Thursday, January 3, 2008

Development of a Conscience

During my teacher training I took lots and lots of child development and child psychology classes. Most of what I learned seemed pretty common sense. I was not brainwashed by higher education to believe what my professors told me; rather, we learned many theories of development and could pick and choose and integrate at will.

My experiences as an educator lead me to believe in B.F. Skinner's, operant conditioning, and the use of positive and negative reinforcement to shape behavior. It was cool to use these theories and practices in the classroom.

As a Mom, I've been just as fascinated watching my kids go through the stages of child development. I have earnestly followed the boys through Erickson's 8 Stages.

What I wasn't prepared for what the sudden appearance of a conscience! #1 started ratting himself out in about 2nd grade.

"Mom, remember that time I was in Kindergarten and I told you that Morgan GAVE me that quarter? Well, she really didn't give it to me. I found it under her desk."

No kidding? We kinda figured that.

"Mom, Remember last summer when I told you I was going to ride my bike to Josh's house? I stopped and slid down the slide at school first."

O.k. No biggie.

"Mom, you know that vent upstairs near my dresser? One time we were playing and I didn't want to stop so I peed in it."

WHAT? What the fuck is that? This is getting ridiculous. What is going on? I explain that there are some things better left unsaid. Sometimes you just have to live with the really bonehead things you do and so long as the 5-0 doesn't show up, no blood was shed and you didn't tarnish the family name, it's all good.

Whew. We moved through that with #1. I thought he was just weird. Some freak kid with and over-sized conscience. Or guilt. Catholic guilt by association (his dad went to Catholic school??).

Oh no. It appears to be some weird kid thing. Because now #2 is doing it.

"Mom, we were playing kickball and Jose caught my kick. I cussed a little under my breath."

No one heard you, no harm no foul.

"Mom, Gary [his friend] and I were walking in the woods and I told him that one time I got bit by a wolf."

Wow. That's silly. If you aren't truthful to your friends, they won't trust you. But having an imagination is good.

Here we go again. I'm waiting for the big one. The peeing in the vent. Nah.

"Mom, sometimes I pee in the shower. And one time I spit."

Is this just some boy thing, the peeing? Do I need to read some Freud? Did I do something during their potty training? I throw my hands up. Call my husband. Ask him what's going on. My years and years of child psychology did not prepare me for this, I say.

My husband's response?

"It's a G-Thang baby."


Jennifer said...

That is so funny!

My kids have never felt the urge to tell on themselves. Darn, because that's some good entertainment and gives you plenty of ammunition to blackmail them with in the future.

Katie said...

My #2 will always rat himself out by telling us not to ask him about what ever it is that he's feeling guilty about. I am beyond entertained every time it happens!