The never ending battle, am I right?
I swear since about the day L turned 6 months I have answered almost every demand of his with ‘what do you say?’ Pleeeeeease. Can you possibly imagine how many times I uttered those darn words. Most days it felt like for absolutely no reason. At age two he’d practically beat me if he wanted something. And I would respond with a cheery ‘what do you say?’
At age four he’d run through the house, demanding a fruit leather, and I would reply (a little less cheerful) ‘what do you say?’
At age five he’d – wait – are we seriously still doing this?
Things seem to have taken longer to stick with L although I can’t possibly imagine why. The habit was instilled in him since before he could physically move, he was just choosing not to use it.
And then something magical happened. Around six or so it started to be normal to hear. Please. Thank you. ‘May I’ instead of ‘can I’. That one is HUGE with me. I literally cringe when I hear ‘can I’ although I’m not quite sure why. I wouldn’t say I’m a pillar of proper old school english but this one was non negotiable – with both boys. May I may I may I.
Going out to dinner is the absolute BEST place to practice. Look the waiter in the eyes like a normal human being, open your mouth and utter nice, polite, words along with your dinner order. Close the menu and hand over to the staff. We’d been practicing this for years. Sometimes successful, sometimes not, but it was very clear little brother B was picking things up much more quickly than L. But that would be for obvious reasons: whatever L does, B will surely do. Amen.
I recall one sunny day in January while on a mini getaway when L ran over to me, dripping wet and out of breath from doing God knows what in the pool, and said ‘may I please have an ice cream cone?’
I didn’t think anything of it – manners were (gasp!) pretty normal at this point. I said sure, along with the clear stipulation that I got a bite, and off he ran to the pool bar, dragging his towel behind him.
Minutes later a darling older woman came over and sat down next to me on the ledge gushing about how wonderful it was to hear ‘may I’ instead of ‘can I.’ It was so ‘refreshing’ and I must have taught him so well.
I think my heart almost burst out of my chest. There are very few moments your work as a mom is actually reconginzed by another human being, right? The little ones you are tending to are day in and day out are pretty clueless and while family and friends surely notice the good you do it’s sort of expected for it to be that way. Rightfully so.
But a pure stranger coming out of no where to tell me good job, well, let’s just say it stuck with me. It was a year ago and I still think about it pretty much every time one of the boys utters ‘may I.’
So all you mom out there repeating ‘what do you say’ over and over and over again – I promise you. One day, it’ll stick. And I’m really hoping that someone notices.