Thursday, February 25, 2010

Daddy's Little Proletariat

My one year old, Lucius, has succesfully completed his first chores.

A couple of days ago, he was picking up his bottle (which was empty) and waving it around and hooting. My wife, Tersa, who was not feeling very good said, “Well, if you want more milk bring it to your dad and have him fill it up for you.” Lucius grinned ear to ear, and made a beeline to me. He handed me the bottle, then promptly yanked it out of my hands and tried to drink out of it. “What do you mean there’s no milk? I went to Daddy like you said.” I said, “I have to fill it up silly. Follow me and we’ll get more.” He grinned at his mistake and then attempted to follow me to the kitchen, only to get distracted by the barber chair in the dining room.

First lesson learned.  Follow instructions, do the work, and get a reward.  He's now learned how it should work.  (Ignoring the hidden costs of milk and bottle, which he has not yet earned.  We'll cover that in a later chapter.)  I don't start covering exploitation, and Daddy passively owning the means of production until the kids are at least two.

Yesterday, he worked on his second chore, which was slightly less successful (from my point of view at least).  He was cruising around the living room, and started to engage in his favorite game of "Throw diapers all over the room".  Yeah.  That game is awesome.  I got down on his level and said, "OK, buddy.  Time to clean up the mess."  I modeled putting the diapers away, and he mostly got it.  Then grabbed more diapers and threw them on the ground.  "Look Dad, we can play some more."  So we did it a bit more, and he got positive feedback for putting things away, and none for throwing things on the ground.

Sometimes it's overkill to try to apply Marx to a situation, when B.F. Skinner would suffice.

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