It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Impossibly rude

“Wash! My! Hands!”

She turns to face me, her sticky hands extended.

I! Am! Appalled!

And NOT by the sticky hands.

The other toddlers have not caught this strident demand, but 4-year-old Emily’s eyes are round, her face frozen in shock. She can’t believe what she’s hearing, either, and knows that something Major is about to happen.

“I beg your pardon?” Each word carefully enunciated, my voice thick with warning. If this child has any sense, she will ease up and apply some thin veneer of civility. Immediately.


Emily gasps. I feel the same response, but give the child One More Chance.

“You know better than that. How do you ask?”


Holy Hannah. What’s gotten into this one? Tired? Her cold getting worse? Were her parents fighting on the way over? Some other random thing? Doesn’t matter. This is INEXCUSABLY RUDE, and I will not be treated like this.

We are marching to the Quiet Stair as I speak. “You do NOT speak to me llke that, young lady. That was very, VERY rude.”

I plop her small butt on the step.

“When you can ask nicely, I will help you.”

Yes, her hands are still sticky, and yes, I will have to clean the wall by the bottom step, but I don’t care. Basic respect is waaaaaay more important than clean furnishings.

It only takes a minute or so.

“Mary, may you wash my hands?”

“May I wash your hands, what?”

“May you wash my hands, Please?”

And my face warms into a brilliant, welcoming smile. “Of COURSE I can, lovie! Come into the kitchen and let’s get you cleaned up.”


But really: What the hell was that all about?

April 21, 2010 Posted by | manners, power struggle | | 13 Comments