Monday, June 26, 2006

Mind Your Manners

Since I enjoy beating my head against the wall, I've been attempting to encourage Sarah to behave a bit less like Lola and more like a creature that was raised in a civilized home - a home much different than ours. So, we're working on manners. We've started with simple things - saying "thank you", "you're welcome", "please" and not talking with a mouth full of food.

So far, she's excelling in the "please" department. She quickly learned the power of that magical word. When used correctly, she knows it can gain her cookies and favors. Now, almost every phrase is followed by a "please".

As for "thank you" and "you're welcome", well, she thinks of them as one phrase - all to be repeated by her. Let's say she asks for some milk. After you set the cup in front of her, she'll say, "Thank you, you're welcome" without a pause between the two phrases. Either she's impatient - can't wait for us to respond, or she's afraid we're not sharp enough to remember the appropriate answer. So, she spares us the humiliation and blurts out the reply.

In the area of not talking with a mouth full of food, that's posing a bigger challenge. If Sarah has something to say, she's not going to let a head of cauliflower crammed in her mouth stop her. So, this could take some time.

Tonight during dinner, Sarah was having macaroni and cheese. For entertainment, she was toying with me and her food. I ignored the "accidental" drops of macaroni in her milk, but when she fed Lola a few noodles, I warned her, "Don't feed Lola!" She got a small glimmer in her eyes and went on with her dinner. A few minutes later, just as I'd taken a big bite of my food, she did it again - handed Lola a pile of noodles.

Angry, I stood up to take her plate and reprimand her (with a mouth full of bread). Just as I was getting warmed up ("We don't feed Lola! You can't have any more macaroni and cheese....blah... cookies...blah...blah..."), she interrupted me, "Don't talk with your mouth full, mama." Ohhh... laugh, strangle, cry, or just swallow hard and continue the tongue lashing? I chose the latter, but she had broken my stride, caught me off gaurd and completely changed the energy of the situation. Basically, she had won. I'm afraid that won't be the last time.


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