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Please and Thank You

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

He’s turned against us.

Like a student becoming the master, our 2-year-old toddler has turned our parenting skills around on us.

That sneaky little (adorable) devil.

On the scale of things we want to teach our kids, “please and thank you”s are supposed to be pretty straightforward. You want something? Ask nicely using “please.” Once you get it, say “thank you” to the person who helped.

Basic stuff.

“Like a student becoming the master, our 2-year-old toddler has turned our parenting skills around on us.”
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These are the manners we teach our kids from a young age that we hope will make them grow up to be polite and caring. There’s a lot of prodding and encouraging along the way, but the end goal is for them to be self-functioning, polite little people who we can release into the real world (or at least to the friend’s house down the street) and feel proud of our accomplishment.

Who knew our little guy would suddenly take these innocent polite words that we were so excited to hear him start saying, only to lob them back at us like a grenade when he doesn’t want to do something?

***

Wyatt is a pretty talkative toddler, so my wife and I started with our “please and thank you”s early on. While they understandably didn’t catch on immediately, he soon — when prompted — would excitedly shout “PLEASE!” and “THANK YOU!” when he wanted more of something. We were off to a great start.

As he grew more comfortable with the concept, he realized, like a shrewd businessman, that maybe he could parlay that into stopping or preventing something he didn’t want.

When he doesn’t want to change out of his jammies in the morning, he screams, “NO THANK YOU!” over and over. Even after our time cues, when it’s time to move on from just about any activity imaginable, he routinely negotiates for an additional, “two minutes,” which is immediately followed by a direct “no thank you!” with the affection of Donald Trump saying “You’re Fired!”

“As a parent, I’m faced with a rather difficult but hilarious situation at this point. Do I praise him for properly using his ‘thank you’ or ignore his polite (yet unreasonable) request?”
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As a parent, I’m faced with a rather difficult but hilarious situation at this point. Do I praise him for properly using his “thank you” or ignore his polite (yet unreasonable) request? Unfortunately, the whole situation is so comical we’re often fighting to hide our laughter so we don’t just encourage him further.

Since there is no explaining what goes on inside the mind of a child, I just want to know, at what point did he realize he could use this against us? Any parent will tell you their child is the smartest in the world, but I wasn’t ready for this level of precise ingenuity at 2 years old. Does that say more about me than him?

Parenting is always a path of decisions, a choose your own adventure for sleep-deprived, stressed out, semi-coherent adults. Some days I take a very hard wrong turn and end up in the badlands, somewhere south of tantrums and meltdownville. Other days, I choose wisely and find myself in a metaphorical field of daisies and happiness and wonder how the hell I got here? (Did I make a wrong turn and accidentally bypass the flopping on the floor because I gave him the wrong bib color exit?)

As a parent, my greatest successes are seeing him take something we’ve taught him and execute it correctly. Saying “please” and “thank you” is a part of that. It just never crossed my mind that he’d be able to take it and make it work better for him than us.

I guess that just comes with the job. No, thank you.

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Article Posted 4 years Ago

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