Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Yes, please.

Alternate title: Why My Child Screaming "LOWWWWWD!" While You Try to Eat Your Dinner is Actually Polite (And Why Did You Sit So Close to Us When There Are Plenty of Tables Open?*)

So, wee lil' Charlie had a handful of signs that she used before she could talk. Adorable little pudgy-fingered signs for things like more and milk and please.

Here's evidence from early April (over seven months ago!) of the unprompted "please," followed by evidence of why Charlie thinks she can have whatever she wants whenever she wants it. Good parenting in full effect, ya'll!

Yes, very practical and helpful and did I mention adorable? But she can say words now, and does. A lot. Except for please. That one's been a challenge.

If you prompt her to say please, she'll quickly rub her chest like any good little ASL student should. Great, but perhaps it's time to try saying things without our hands? No? Well, would you like Mommy to teach you some new sign language? Just pay attention in the car, Sweetheart, and you'll learn some new vocabulary words, too!

And thus began my brilliant quest to get my toddler to speak in three easy steps:
  1. I started with asking Charlie each time she signed please, to say it with her mouth instead. Genius! Except, what does my kiddo do? She's just moved her hand up from her chest and started rubbing her lips instead. (I'm not gonna lie, I actually think that's pretty smart. Again, the adorable... it's overflowing I tell you!)
  2. Though the mouth signing was cute, it wasn't exactly what I was going for. Up next, each time she signed, I'd respond with, "Say it out loud." To which she'd respond with "Loud." OK. Well, at least she's saying something, right?
  3. And the final phase: I tricked her! Ha, take that, Toddler! I got her to repeat after me by saying PLEASE! really, really loudly, and then please! really, really softly. And it worked! Sort of... I can get her to say it now, but it takes much cajoling, and I have to say it in a really exaggerated way first. Good thing I like speaking like a Muppet.
So, there you have it: How to almost get your toddler to say "please" in a way that everyone around them will understand. Almost.

Enter dinner last night and another proud parenting moment. After negotiating with Charlie to let us have something other than beans and rice, she agreed that a 'tato would be good. Off we went, happy to be one day into a short work week. Food was ordered, food was delivered to our table, Elmo was offered bites of potato. (This is the first time in a couple of weeks that Elmo has been invited to join us for an outing thanks to Charlie's on-going love of all things pig. He was really hungry.)

As we were winding down, Charlie decided she'd like some ice from Daddy's cup for dessert. (I know, we're spoiling her.) I, of course, prompted her to say please.

And then I watched her start to sign. But, but, BUT! She stopped mid-sign.

I could see the wheels turning in her brilliant little mind. Charlie knew that she was supposed to say please. She opened her mouth, I braced myself for a pride swell, and she said as clearly as she possibly could, with as much volume as she could muster:


Ah, manners.

*A woman came in toward the end of our meal and chose to seat herself at the booth right behind us. She even sat down in the seat that backed up to the seat Charlie and I were sharing. Huh? I didn't even try to keep the kid quiet because really? You picked your poison, lady.


  1. Too funny, Meagan! Toddlers are way too smart. :)
    Also, I feel like a moron because I never realized you pronounce Kopp like "cope." I thought it was, well, "cop." So now your blog title makes perfect SENSE!! :D

  2. OMG -- I forgot about all this!


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