I'm not going to say anything because...
I really hate to be the buzzkill...
I really hate to break it to you...
Not even PLEASE.
I know that it is practically rote in our culture these days, to prompt children to use "the magic word." I know every parent wishes he or she had a dollar for every time he or she says, "Say the magic word!" I know most would be able to accumulate enough for a major, major Venti Starbucks frappachino habit.
But not me. I carefully---from the beginning---never, ever called 'please' the magic word.
I do ask my children to speak and ask kindly, using kind words in a kind voice. I offer examples, and model it for them and to them. I say please is a good way to really make one's words kind.
But I never say it is the magic word.
This is because it isn't magic!
Please doesn't make words or tone nice.
Please doesn't automatically get you what you want.
Despite me not saying it and pleading as if my life depended on it for nobody in my immediate family to say it, my husband does anyway. Oh well. It wouldn't matter. My daughters both hear it absolutely everywhere, so Patience is positive please is a magic word.
I am apparently the only crazy woman in the world who doens't know that it is.
Therefore she demands, "Mom, get me lemonade now, not in a minute, NOW!! Please."
And expects results.
She whines, "I don' wanna get ready for bed, I wanna watch a show Moooommmm. Turn me on a show, Moooommm, now. Please."
And expects results.
All because she used what she is convinced is the magic word. Anyway, her daddy says it is the magic word. So do all the other adults she knows.
I am the only one she knows who is so deluded as to Not. Get. It.
She speaks like this to me, and I say, "Patience, sweetie, I need you to ask kindly, using your kind words and kind voice."
She demands what she knows is a no, and I say, "Patience, my precious, no. And remember, please ask kindly."
Her eyes flare in fury, her chin juts forward, her chest puffs out and she exclaims, "Buuuuutttt I saaaiiiddddd PLEASE!!!!"
And I tell her, "Please is a nice word, but it's not magic. It doesn't promise that you get what you want. I know it's disappointing, but...no."
She stares at me, horrified to be the daughter of the crazy woman who does not get it. "Why me?" I can hear her wondering, disappointed and infuriated.
Nevertheless...I'm sticking to my guns. Please isn't a magic word. It's not a word you can wish on, like a genie in a lamp. It's not a satisfaction guaranteed, Disneyworld magic word.
It's simply a word.
And we can all have a grand laugh at my expense...you know the Pre-Planned Theoreical Parenting Technique that is, as is often the case, completely and utterly down the toilet.
Well you know...the best laid plans and all that.
By Julie Pippert© 2006. All images and text exclusive property of Julie Pippert. Not to be used or reproduced.