Any first year psychology student can tell you about Pavlov’s Theory of Classical Conditioning. Pavlov was a Russian scientist who won the 1904 Pulitzer Prize after spending years and years working on his theories which explained that with the right stimulus, you can provoke a conditioned response.
Garrett is a 15 month old toddler who lives in Los Angeles. He was able to figure this theory out in about five minutes.
Pavlov used dogs. Garrett used daddy (and a plastic dog.)
We’ve been teaching Garrett sign language. We found that it helped to eliminate the “Terrible Twos” with Justin because he was able to communicate with us. The most popular sign is “More.” All Garrett has to do it smack his hands together and he has told us that he wants more of something. Usually, it’s food – but, it can be anything. He could be telling us that he wants us to read him another book at night or sing him another song. If one of us does something he thinks is funny, he signs “more” for us to do it again.
Last night, he successfully trained me and then became very frustrated when I couldn’t deviate from his plan. While playing with him and his toy house, I pushed his dog into the doghouse and it made a funny sound he had never heard before. He clapped his hands: “More,” so I did it again. He clapped his hands: “More,” so I did it a third time. Again and again and again, he would clap his hands and I would make the doggy bark. Finally, I did it one more time…and he turned towards me with an unhappy expression on his face and yelled something that sounded like “Eeeaayyyaaeeee!” I didn’t know what that meant. I reached for the doggy again and he pushed my hand away…and then he clapped, “More.” I reached for the doggy again and he pushed my hand away…and then he clapped “More” again!
Confused, I reached over to flush the potty in the toy house. He pushed my hand away…and clapped “More.” I pressed the doorbell and he screamed at me, pushed my hand away, and clapped for “More.”
“More what?!?!?!?!” I asked.
He looked me dead in the eyes and clapped.
He looked me dead in the eyes and clapped again…and louder.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT!?!?!?!! TELL ME!!!!”
He looked me dead in the eyes and clapped again.
It’s at this point, I suspected that I knew how Edgar Allen Poe had lost his mind. He was probably playing with his young children who ended up driving him insane by screaming like Ravens: “Nevermore!! Nevermore!!”