Do you suddenly find yourself with a soon-to-be five-year-old who doesn’t believe in pleases, thank yous, your welcomes, or may/can I? Instead of asking for things, he demands them?
“My glass of milk is empty.” Empty stare from across the dinner table looking at you waiting for you to jump up and fill his milk glass. When you do, he takes one sip.
“Get me out of the bath. Where’s my towel,” he yells from down the hallway even though he’s perfectly capable of getting himself out and his towel is resting on the sink in plain sight. But you’re a parent, so you rush to him from the kitchen fearful that THIS time he might slip and fall out of the tub knocking himself unconscious. He get him out, and wait for the “thank you” that never comes.
“Give me that train!” he exclaims after you dare to pick up one of seven trains in the room available after demanding that you play with him. You apologize and move on to the next train hoping that one is “okay”.
You’ve gone out of your way to take him to a museum that he loves thirty minutes away. While you’re there he is rude to absolutely every child he encounters. He even expresses out loud “I will not be nice to anyone under three-years-old.” After gritting your teeth as he precedes to treat every child like a criminal, you finally leave. Luckily, he leaves without much ado. You get to the car, and start buckling him in, “Mom, I’m tired. I’m hungry.” But that’s it. No, “Thanks Mom for taking me there. That was so much fun.” No, “Wow, you really went out of your way to make a fun day for me and I really appreciate it.” No, “Man, Mom I wish I listened to you when you suggested I eat the other half of my sandwich. Oh, well, guess I’ll listen to you next time.”
Well, at this point I start to wonder, “Surely this is happening to other parents. I must find the reason why this is happening and how can I fix it before my son turns into a criminal himself at an early age because he never learned to appreciate people or be gracious.” I begin my search that very night after the museum, and what do I find?
“Children learn to be gracious when they see their parents behaving that way.”
Wait. What? We’re nice to each other. We say “thank you” and “please”. We appreciate each other…don’t we? Regardless of whether we do or we don’t, I start to thank my husband for everything I can think of in front of August, and I thank August for whatever I can muster up.
“Thank you August for leaving the museum without a fight. I really appreciate it”
Blink, blink. Then he starts to talk and I’m hopeful that he’ll turn around and thank me for bringing him. “Sure, Mom.”
This morning we drove my husband to the airport. On the way there, I say, “Thank you for letting us take you to the airport,” expecting to get a “Thank you” in return from my husband all for August to hear. Instead I get, “Of Course!”. Not quite what I was hoping for, but he was looking up the terminal for his flight so maybe he wasn’t really hearing me. We arrive at the airport, and I try again. “Thanks again for letting us take you to the airport,” I say letting it hang in the air hoping he’ll get the hint of my ridiculous statement. Nope. Nada. “Oh sure,” is the response I get. Dammit, this is going to be harder than I thought.
I guess we’re on this journey together the three of us. We’re all needing a little “Thank you”, “Please”, “Your Welcome” and “May I” in our lives. Do you remember what he said last year at this time when I asked, “What would you do if you had all the money in the world?” His reply, “Give some away.” Where did that guy go?