One of the way we civilize our pack of rabid barbarians, in the hopes of producing a fully-functioning adult human at the end of the day, is to “model” the behaviors we’d like to see. That means, if a child asks something in a rude or demanding tone, or is whining, or shrieky, or any of the other myriad things a child can manage to jangle parental neurons with, we stop them, and give them a new “script”–a preferred phrase, or different tone of voice–and let them try it again. When they give it a go, we praise their more pleasant behavior, and usually meet the desire as best we can. I may be a Mean Mom, but I really do like saying Yes to my kids.
Some days, it works a little too well.
Spicy and Lefty found me this afternoon, gathering together at my knee with a particularly sad, bloomed bag of not-great-quality mini chocolate chips. They’ve been in my cabinet since about a week after my last Grudge Baking session. The Spicy one used her best cheerful voice, and asked if they could please consume the questionable treat. I regretfully informed her that they were really gross, but that we could get new, better ones at the store later. Spicy was satisfied.
Lefty, however, was not.
“No, Momma,” quoth she with a scowl. “Don’t say it like dat.”
“What do you mean, Baby?” queried I.
Her whole countenance changed to sunshine, rainbows, and puffy clouds, as she modeled what she considered to be the appropriate behavior.
“Say it like dis: Yes, you may!”
I stifled a giggle, and reaffirmed that no, those chocolate pieces were still nasty, and we could get some more at the store for later.
She was appropriately devastated:
“No, not like dat! Das so wude, Momma!”
And she melted, and went away to cry.
Not fully civilized, perhaps, but definitely into the whole Pathos and Drama thing.