It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Some days you have to take the long view…

“Want shoes! Want shoes! Want shoes!”

“We’re all getting our shoes on, Nigel. It’s not your turn yet, and that’s not how you ask.”

I continue shoving small feet into wee shoes. Nigel’s pushiness just put him at the end of the queue. (How else to learn patience? And I don’t reward rudeness. Harrumph.)

“How do you ask politely?”


“Yes, politely. You know how to ask politely, Nigel. Say the whole Sentence.” In fact, I don’t know know that he knows The Sentence. He should know it. It’s been a very “I-want-y” week, so he’s only heard/repeated The Sentence about 500 gazillion times in the last four days.

“Sentence.” This is standard. Ask him to do something, he echoes back part of the request. I have yet to decide whether it’s a stall tactic, or he truly doesn’t understand the concept of question and answer. I lean to the latter, but you know what? It really doesn’t matter. The ‘why’ of toddler behaviour doesn’t often matter.

Meantime, foot-shodding continues. Anna is done, Emily is done. Malli, bless her Big-Girl self, can put her own shoes on.

“Hey Tims, bring me those little feet, buddy.” Timmy trots over and plops himself in my lap. “No, Nigel, say The Sentence.”

“Say the sentence.” Bah. Just with the echoing, yet. I’ll have to give the words to him.

“May I…” I pause, raise my eyebrows, smile at him. I’m hoping to prime the pump, here. Get him started and he’ll know what comes next. I hope. I want those polite words to come automatically, of his own volition.

“May I?” He beams back at me. He knows those are Good Words! Too bad for you, bud, they’re not good enough. The bar is much higher than that for this verbal little boy. Still, it’s evident that I’m going to have to spoonfeed him the entire Sentence. Sigh.

“May I have my shoes, please?”

“May I have my shoes, please?” See? Echoing he can do. And he’s familiar with The Sentence, having heard it about 500 gazillion times this week. (Oh. Said that already, did I? Not as many times as I’ve SAID THE DAMNED SENTENCE!!!) Still, we reward these things, no matter how much work they were to get out…

“Well done!” I beam, and clap in appreciation. “THAT was a polite Sentence! ‘May I have my shoes, please?’ Yes, you may. Come here and let’s get them on.”

At least he said it. Sooner or later he’ll ‘get’ what ‘polite sentence’ means, and it’ll come of its own volition. Sooner…

“Want coat! Want coat! Want coat!” …or later…

Civilizing them is a long, gradual process…

May 4, 2007 Posted by | manners | 10 Comments