Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Daddy 101

     Although not officially parent's weekend,  Dad came to visit us over Labor Day.  It was his first trip down from Richmond since we left in August, and we were all eager to see each other. We planned to meet in the mountains for the long holiday with a schedule that included shopping, hiking, and lots of time on the deck.
      It had been four weeks since classes started, but Sissey had already learned some new skills in college. Her favorite class, Psychology, had focused on Formal Experiments, which are used to test an hypothesis. Sissey had one ready to test. Her hypothesis was that she could manage to scam one of her parents out of a few bucks over the holiday weekend. The parent that could be easily manipulated would be the independent variable. That, of course would be Dad. The one that would never change would be the dependent variable. Mom was the dependent variable. You would never be able to maniulate a nickle out of that tight tick, much less change her mind on anything. You could depend on that.
      Dad, on the other had, she could easily manipulate;  he appeared to be tough and firm, but Sissey was the master of operant conditioning when it came to dear old dad.  She set up him up like a Skinner rat and sat back to record the results.
    She hit him up for cash as soon as he got there, not to mention a few new sweaters and a great pair of boots. He responded appropriately, and was rewarded with lots of hugs and kisses.  Not only was she able to squeeze some cash and clothes out of him, but he arrived with a credit card as well....just for her.  Her very own credit card, and she is presently unemployed. Not to mention a student.  I just sat back, watching her work her magic on him, and thought, "Wait a minute, where's my new credit card? and my clothes? and Moma needs new shoes." I whined, "I need a little extra cash", and he didn't even hear me talking. I was 23 years into this relationship and being smoked by a 19 year old.
      I could tell right away that I had failed Psychology. My rat was not responding. Maybe he was too conditioned over the years to getting shocked when he deserved to be rewarded. But for Sissey, that little rat just ran any which way she clicked her fingers. Ran correctly to Calvin Klein. Big hug.  Ran straight to Coach. Hug and kiss. Skipped J. Crew. Little pout, no hug. Ran to Ralph Lauren. Hug, kiss, kiss. 
     She worked him like butter on a hot corn cob and he was just melting away. Not only did absence make the heart grow fonder, it made Daddy's wallet pop open. She passed her exam in Daddy 101 with flying colors.  Aced everything. Her hypothesis had been proven correct: She was easily able to get her rat to produce cash and credit when correctly conditioned through rewards and punishment. Even though just a freshman in college, she'd already earned her PhD. in Parent Psychology.
     I watched as they pulled away in his car, off for a little daddy/daughter bonding spree, headed back to the Shoppes on the Parkway.  A little smile crept across my lips and I whispered, "Oh, my darling daughter.... I am so proud of you. You have learned well in college.  Just remember the lesson you learned at your mother's sure to tell him how much you have saved on that little shopping expedition, and make sure he gives it to you in CASH..."

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