Mother, May I? Or, Raising a Gentleman

“Waaaaaaah, waaaaaaah!  I want Auntie. I want Auntie,” is what I often hear when Lucas wakes from his nap. It is usually followed by permission to get up and join the party of children downstairs.

This is a child who is remarkably gifted in the arts of running, climbing and jumping. He can jump a four-step stoop and gives me a heart attack every time. (His mother is still waiting for the anticipated ER call from me.) Sometimes I am annoyed by his whimpering, need for my presence and permission because I know that he’s fully capable of climbing out of bed and coming downstairs, but my heart reminds me that he’s 2 ½ years old and appropriately permission seeking.

I take this to heart, because he’s being taught to ask for permission, to use his manners and to be kind. His mother, myself, my wife and our community of moms are raising him and Danny to be gentlemen.

As with any other aspect of child rearing, teaching manners is constant work. Kids are little bosses that frequently bark demands. “I want water!” “I’m hungry!” “I want to go to the playground!”  Sometimes they even use one word demands, “Potty!” “Uppies!” “Play!” “Snuggle!”

Despite their brevity, I know exactly what each boy wants and needs; however, those needs aren’t met until a proper request is used. My response for such succinct rudeness is a side eye glare with, “Excuse me?”

Generally the boys quickly follow up with a full sentence, “May I have water?” “May you play with me?” “May you pick me up?” Yes, those kind questions are music to my ears. Sometimes I think I’m too strict (I probably give more timeouts than any other mom on our block), too demanding, and too hard on my little guys who are 1 ½, 2 ½ and 3. Then they return from a play date and I receive good reports: “They were great. No problems.”

My favorite comment from a friend was, “Danny is like a decoration or backpack. He’s here, but so pleasant that you hardly even notice him. He just played by himself and did his thing. He also answered all of Lincoln’s questions, too, and read to him. He and Lincoln were perfect together.”

Truth is, these comments make me happy and proud. Just like when people say the three little guys are happy children and that it’s obvious the care they’re receiving is wonderful. I always thank people, but I also think and thank the other moms in my community because our boys are raised by a village.

Also, we don’t want to raise little jerks, right? So yes, I’m going to continue to demand manners and kindness because one day that little high-pitched voice that once politely asked for a snack will one day kindly ask someone, “May I take your coat?” And eventually, “May I have your hand in marriage?”

And I may or may not be there to remind him to say “May I,” but he’ll surely remember all those times his mamas demanded the “May I” and I hope that makes him smile fondly.

 

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