Being Polite (It Gets Better)

Polite Collage

Maybe it was just me, but ever since Cruz started to talk, I felt like I had been giving him words. We’re in the same stage with London; us pointing out pictures in a book or things we saw on our walk. This is a sock. The duck says, “quack.”  As Cruz grew older, we moved on from teaching nouns to giving him little reminders all day long of what he was supposed to say and when he was supposed to say it and who he was supposed to look at. Our weekly trips to Trader Joe’s are just chockfull of these teachable moments.

What do you say for the sample?
What are you going to ask when it’s your turn?
What do you say for the stickers?
Say ‘please.’ Let’s try again.
Say ‘thank you.’

And after a year and a half of daily, hourly reminders, it starts to feel repetitive and as if every other child on the face of the planet remembers what to say and that phrase ‘what do you say?’ as you hold the sippy cup back, waiting for that little “pwease?” to come out seems as if it’s automatic and you’ll never stop saying it.

And then one say you’ll realize that the ‘pleases’ and ‘may Is?’ and even ‘you’re welcome’ start pouring out of your child’s mouth without reminders. That suddenly he has grown up in front of your eyes.

Here, I’ll help you, Mommy.
Thank you, Cruz.
You’re welcome. 

Several times in the last week Cruz has been complimented on his politeness (and we’ve given out extravagant amounts of stickers for it), and with his fresh summer hair cut and a host of new independent skills, my little one is becoming a kid. I can’t tell you how squishy my heart feels to see him use the words he’s been given. I came home the other day to find him putting stickers on his own chart. I asked him what he had done to earn them and he told me, “Some are because I did a good job sharing and one is for London because she said ‘thank you.'” Can you even deal?

So all of this has reminded me of this important truth: To all of us here in the trenches, putting in the hard day-to-day, hour-to-hour work of parenting these little ones– it is going to pay off. The endless repetition bears fruit. That tough love and consistency that we lay down over and over and over and over again is worth it. So to myself and to you– take heart. When it feels like there’s no end in sight, we’ll get there. We’re making good choices with our kids and teaching them well. Day by day, we’re giving them the words.


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