My daughter finally gets please. And she sounds so sweet when it leaves her lips! I think it actually acquires her more. I intended to enforce my declaration of this is the last one. But her polite request successfully got her another. It seems that she has caught on to its power quite quickly.
But even though the magic word was my goal, and I invested plenty of time, I still don't get it. Really, I reminded her over and over simply because that is what is expected of us. I am expected to teach the use of please, and she is expected to use it. We are expected to just because everyone else does. Which, unfortunately, is a good enough reason for me. There are many expectations we will fall short on but this one is achievable.
You could argue that it isn't just because. Yes, it is easier to get her to ask with a polite tone when there is please attached. It takes away the demanding premiss. She has to stop her incessant chant of more, more, more. But I know that would be possible without asking her, "What do you say?" Manners can be taught in the realm of kindness, patience, respect, and showing appreciation.
But before she was old enough to learn these aspects of being a polite member of society and not a Neanderthal, she was basically brainwashed to say please and thank you. These words were expected before the comprehension of numbers. Before letters. Before identifying red, yellow, or blue. They were made to be part of her foundation.
I tried to look up the history of this word. I saw more writings about it dying out. People feel too entitled to use it. Or, if these common courtesies are being used they have no attached sincerity. I could agree with that observation. Many people say it automatically, probably just because their mom and dad told them to, but they aren't attaching any meaning behind it. It falls in the same category as, "How are you?" Who is really listening to the answer? Who really wants to know?
There are theories on the source of the use of please. Most likely it was used to bring civility to the dinner table. I imagine the dining rituals used to be quite brute and needed some structure to follow in order to become more urbane. Children start absurdly messy and if they aren't taught some guidelines as time progresses I can't imagine the resulting atmosphere.
My household can have some pretty crazy moments at the table. Food flying. Dishes falling. Drinks being speculatively mixed with solids in a nice concoction that sometimes gets consumed but often just gets dumped onto the high chair tray. It doesn't seem as brutal to experience her experimenting toddler stage until we happen to eat at someone else's house. Then, as the mess progresses, I wish I pushed the table manners a little more. Really, I do try to stop the throwing.
And I ask her to say please. And when she does I beam with pride. Because everyone will compliment her manners. Because she's not a primitive being. Because she is on the way to learning to respect. Because she's growing up.
Please, don't grow so fast.