Can I have an icecream?
What’s the magic word? …Please.
Of course, darling.
Whaddya say? …Thank you.
Ever since my kids were able to talk, I have attempted to instill into them the basic habits of saying “please and thank you”. I don’t think I am particularly unusual in this respect. I think most of us hope that our children will grow up to have polite manners.
There was a point when Dash was about four years old that it got so ridiculous that the conversation would go something like this…
Dash: Can I have an icecream?
Mom: What’s the magic word? … Please.
Dash: What’s the magic word? Please.
Mom: Of course, darling.
Mom: Whaddya say? …Thank you.
Dash: Whaddya say? Thank you.
Mom: Good job.
Fast forward to Dash who is now 12 years old. The game of “please and thank you” has been going on for way to many years, to the degree that when I remind him, we both feel a mild need to wring each others necks. This would really subterfuge my desire to have my kids grow up as healthy individuals.
Dash and I are in the school office, where I am desperately attempting to take a back seat in his communication with the very patient and organizing school administrator. Dash conducts his business of receiving a new school lunch card admirably and politely, with clear communication, without one please or thank you anywhere in the conversation.
I am biting my tongue to the degree that the metaphorical blood is dripping down my chin. Finally, I hiss out of the side of my mouth, “Say thank you.” I get an appreciative smile from the lady behind the desk and a look of continued “I’m no longer a baby” eye roll from my kid.
He goes back to class. I go about my daily business.
However, as I am leaving the school, I run into a friendly looking teacher, named Lisa. Out of the depths of my frustration, I randomly say to her. Do they ever learn how to say thank you? I have been working on this subject with my child since birth and apparently he can only say thank you, if I remind him!!!
Lisa calmly looks at me, kindly and not as though I am insane, which I thought was very thoughtful. She said to the nutty stranger (me), you know I had the same issue with my kids, they’re grown now, and they never said it of their own will until I discussed with them the meaning of gratitude and why it was that we say “please and thank you”. As soon as they understood the importance of respect and appreciation there was finally a real reason to maintain the habit.
So, I have had this discussion with Dash. I hope one day he will read this post. In which case, thank you for the inspiration.