I’ve learned over the past few months that a toddler has the ability to go from red-faced, kicking, screaming and crying to laughing and playing within 2.3 seconds. My son’s officially a 2 and a half-year old this month yet he has the reasoning and persuasive ability of a seasoned trial lawyer.
We’ve begun to expect “chores” and specific actions of our son. He can’t reach the pedals on the lawn mower and I don’t believe he’s safe to utilize electricity so I’ve not asked him to mow the yard or vacuum the floors but he is expected to pick up his toys. I also expect him to say please and thank you, to pray before dinner and to ask to be excused when he’s finished eating. I’m also working hard to get him to say “yes sir”, “yes ma’am”, “no sir” and “no ma’am”.
The “please”, “thank you”, “yes sir”, “yes ma’am” and “can I be excused” stuff is hit or miss but I have detected a pattern. You see my son has figured out how to use words like please to his advantage. For example, he’s likely to say “I want some milk”. Well milk is a staple food and I believe he knows he’s going to get it at some point whether he says please or not but to be consistent I’ll say “after you say please”, to which he replies in a very unenthusiastic and dejected manner “please”.
If he wants a piece of candy, to go outdoors or to watch TV he will say “Excuse me Daddy but might I please exit the house to partake in the brilliance of the outdoors so that I might absorb some vitamin D and expand my exposure to God’s beautiful creations”. I might be exaggerating a bit but “Please” always precedes something he really wants.
The chores I expect my son to do are reasonable. All I ask is that he pick up the 437 toys on the floor that he never plays with. When I ask him to pick up his toys he usually makes a good effort to get started. The effort quickly wains and distraction takes over after the second toy.
The process goes like this “O.K. son, it’s time to put your toys in the toy box”, and he replies “O.K. Daddy”. At this point he will pick up a toy, walk to his toy box, place the toy in the toy box, get two toys out of the toy box, bring them to me and say “Whoa Daddy, look at this” and “this” may be a sock or plastic cup but in any case it is certainly not worth a “Whoa”. I usually respond “That’s nice son, now put those back in the toy box”. He almost always complies but with each toy that goes back into the toy box, two more come out. Before it’s all said and done the 437 toys on the floor turn into 874.
Technically he’s done what I asked of him, he picked all the toys off of the floor and put them in his toy box. It’s really my fault for not being more specific so tonight I believe I’ll say “Son, please pick up the toys on the floor, place them in your toy box and don’t get any other toys out of the toy box when doing so”.
I’m sure his response will be something like this “Yes sir, but I’ve been praying about this situation and if it pleases you I’d like to be excused from performing this task and in exchange for your leniency I’ll be happy to mow the yard and vacuum the floors“.