Failing at Manners

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Growling "like a dinosaur" instead of eating her lunch.
Growling “like a dinosaur” instead of eating her lunch.

So, I’ve been trying to teach EK about manners. I know, my two and a half year old doesn’t know much about manners (says anyone who’s ever spent time with her). She’s a little spastic, likes to run around instead of stay in her chair during meals, and thinks spitting, yelling, sounding like a fire truck, and pushing down her brother (who just learned to walk) are all acceptable things to do. We talk every day about being polite, making good choices, and being kind to others, and I can tell it’s finally starting to sink in. She knows better than doing lots of the things we talk about. And that’s where we get stuck.

Recently, she’s been saying, “That’s funny!” or “Ella Kate so funny!” after she does something mean or rude. So the other day, I countered with, “No, that’s not funny. That’s rude.” If you could tell me how to take those words back, I’d pay you a million dollars.

I have literally heard that phrase several times a day since I said it the first – and only – time. Of all the things I say that she parrots, I can’t believe that’s the one. Sometimes, she does something truly funny, and we tell her so. And right on cue, she responds with, “No! That’s not funny! That’s rude!”

Talk about a lost meaning. A giant parenting fail that I committed, just as I was trying to teach manners. The best laid plans, right? Well, I can’t stop teaching her about manners because I had an epic fail. I can’t just let her run me over when I try to teach her right from wrong. One failed teachable moment doesn’t excuse me from ever teaching her anything again. It just makes me want to get it right even more. As a parent, it’s my job to teach her to make good choices on her own, so that she can do it without me later. It’s a scarily important role, teaching those things. It’s tough. I’m sure when she’s a teenager, it’ll be tougher still. But I can’t be discouraged by one fail, or five fails, or a thousand. That loud, endearingly crazy girl is going to get the right idea, if I can help guide her in spite of ourselves.

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