Raising the Bar
“Well, that’s funny. I thought your name was Tyler, but if you say so… Hello, Thirsty. Pleased to meet you.”
Emily starts to giggle. At five, she knows what’s going on here. Tyler stares at me for a longish moment.
“But I’m thirsty!”
“So I heard, and I’m pleased to meet you, Thirsty. Even though I think your name is really Tyler.”
More giggles from Emily. Another longish moment from Tyler. Clearly, the boy needs a prompt.
“You are telling me something, when I think you really mean to ask a question. Is there something you would like?”
“Yeah, Thirsty. You need something?” Big sister Emily dances around, pleased as punch to know something he doesn’t.
“Emily, that’s enough. It’s okay to laugh if something’s funny, but now you’re just showing off. Shush and let Tyler think.”
“I would like a drink!” He clearly thinks he’s conveyed this perfectly adequately. He’s not annoyed, only baffled. What on earth is my problem??
“Well, then, you need to ask for one politely.”
The puzzlement clears. THIS he knows how to do!
“May I have a drink of water, please?”
I let joy overcome my countenance. NEVER have I been happier to serve.
“OF COURSE you may, lovie! Let’s go get that drink.”
‘Polite’ is an evolving target at this age. When words are scarce, “Drink, peas” is perfectly acceptable. A little later, they can manage the entire polite sentence. And by three-and-a-half, declarative sentences intended to make the adult hop to it without being asked politely? Not acceptable.
And when a nine-year-old tries it?
They stay thirsty.