For the last several days/weeks, I have had the special pleasure of having my words thrown back in my face. My firstborn will regularly let delightful phrases such as "You stop that right now!," "Mommy, go to your room," "Give me my__________ RIGHT NOW!!!," and "Move, Get out the way!" escape from his lips.
We couldn't be more proud.
Paul and I, of course, discourage such behavior by telling Owen to "Stop it right now!" or to "Go to your room!" When he takes something from us, in an attempt to seek attention, we tell him, "Owen, give me my towel/remote/phone/toothbrush/dinner RIGHT NOW!" When he crowds us, attempting to perch himself on the millimeter of space not already occupied by baby/stacks of essays/laundry/groceries, we snap, "Owen move! Get out of the way!"
The pattern seems so obvious when I write it down on a computer screen. It's classic monkey see, monkey do. Paul said the most obvious, yet insightful thing last night: "We need to talk to Owen like we talk to each other."
Ohhhhhh. Well, duh. It's so obvious, yet so easy to miss when things are hectic and the boy is annoying. We need to treat him like a person, like somebody deserving of dignity.
I think about the scene in Pulp Fiction where Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta's characters are in trouble. They have accidentally shot a teenager, and now need help to clean up the mess. Happens to all of us. Thus, they summon "The Wolf," played by Harvey Kittel. He is barking out orders to Travolta and Jackson, and Travolta's character mumbles, "A please would be nice."
The Wolf replies, "If I am curt with you, it is because time is a factor." Curtness may be required when blood is spilled, but thankfully, that has not happened with Owen--yet.
Paul and I need to remember our inner Travoltas, and remember that as annoying Owen may be, a please is still nice. Even if you're three.
***For those of you who now wish to recall the scene from Pulp Fiction, read on***
The Wolf: Jimmie, lead the way. Boys, get to work.
Vincent: A please would be nice.
The Wolf: Come again?
Vincent: I said a please would be nice.
The Wolf: Get it straight buster - I'm not here to say please, I'm here to tell you what to do and if self-preservation is an instinct you possess you'd better fucking do it and do it quick. I'm here to help - if my help's not appreciated then lotsa luck, gentlemen.
Jules: No, Mr. Wolf, it ain't like that, your help is definitely appreciated.
Vincent: I don't mean any disrespect, I just don't like people barking orders at me.
The Wolf: If I'm curt with you it's because time is a factor. I think fast, I talk fast and I need you guys to act fast if you wanna get out of this. So, pretty please... with sugar on top. Clean the fucking car.