Hannah and I had a little father to daughter chat today about manners. I decided we needed to discuss the polite way to ask for something after she shouted at me "Dad, get that and give it to me". There were two issues to discuss. First, she shouted at me. I don't like to be shouted at. Second, she forgot to say please.
I stopped what I was doing and paused to think for a second about how to handle this situation. Instead of scolding her, I decided that this would be a good chance to calmly remind her to use polite manners. I thought that if I shared with her that I sometimes forget to say please that we might bond over our omission of manners and the point would sink in. I told her "Hannah, aside from yelling at me, you also forgot to say 'please'. If you want some help, all you have to do is say please and I'm sure I'd be happy to help you with whatever it is you need."
And then I added "You know, sometimes even I forget to say please. I'll make a deal with you. If you will work on trying to say please, I will too. We can work on improving our manners together. Sound good?"
But instead of answering "Yes Daddy. I will work on my manners", she switched topics. The next thing she said was "You know Dad, Gracie and I wouldn't fight so much, but we see you and Mommy fighting all the time, so we learn from you."
What? Where did that come from? I started to chuckle as I thought about this. Hannah, based on our conversation about manners, grasped that I suggested that kids learn from watching their parents. I admitted as much when I told her that I don't always say "please" and told her that we should work on it together. As part of an effort to bond with her I intoned that maybe her forgetting to say "please" was due to my lack of manners. I was only trying to bond after all. But the fighting? I thought she went a little to far with that one. I told her so.
"Hannah, you and Gracie don't fight because you see me and Mommy fighting. Mommy and I don't fight, and we certainly don't bite each other or give each other karate kicks like you gave Gracie this morning, do we?"
That stumped her. "Okay Daddy, but you and your sister and brothers must have had fights when you were a kid."
And that caused me to think. Did I have lots of fights with my siblings growing up? Maybe we did, but I couldn't really recall any. My sister was in high school when I was born and I know we never duked it out. Brother Brian is about ten years older than me and if we had fought he would have had a seriously unfair advantage, so I don't think that happened. Rod is five years older and I know we used to wrestle in the living room, but that was more for me to show off and prove that I could pin him to the floor (a fact that he denies to this day) and my brother Kevin who is three years older was one of my best friends to play with.
Mary has remarked about me and my siblings being odd. To clarify she's said it's odd that we get along so well. She asked if there was any sibling rivalries growing up. I couldn't remember any. Maybe that's due to being the youngest, but we all seemed to get along fairly well. That would be odd. Five kids and no rivalries? I may need to give Ma a call and get the scoop. We're all over thirty now, so I should be able to get the scoop from her without her feeling like she would be hurting anyone's feelings.
And the talk with Hannah? I got her to admit that Mommy and I don't pull each others hair or steal barbies from one another.