Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Going through the motions

We all say things we don’t mean.

We utter inanities like “sorry” and “no worries” and “I’m fine, how are you?” in order to grease the wheels of social interaction. We say things we don’t mean to placate people and smooth out situations.

I don’t know at exactly what age we learn these subtle deceptions. I do know that Graham has just started practicing them. And the fact that he’s not overly clear on the whole concept produces results that are equal parts amusing and unsettling.

Graham has learned, for instance, that “sorry” is an amiable thing to say. It matters not whether he is actually sorry. He blurts it out at the slightest hint of my displeasure, which would be endearing if not for the aggressive volume and tone of his voice, which indicate he is anything but sorry.

He hurls “SORRY MAMA!” at me like a weapon, figuring it will stop me in my tracks, so he can go merrily about whatever behavior it was that elicited my displeasure in the first place. He seems genuinely surprised when I don’t accept his “apology” and puzzled when I try to explain that he needs to mean the things he says.

How can I blame him for being confused? Haven’t I already admitted that I am a liar?

But Graham has taken my feel-good strategy one step further. He apparently figures that the best defense is a good offense and therefore employs lavish terms of endearment and displays of affection even while he is misbehaving.

When I chastise him for getting carried away rough-housing, his head butts and slaps morph into ferocious “missile kisses” delivered with the exact same intensity and painful results.

When I tell him that it hurts my feelings when he says things that aren’t nice, he shouts and snarls what he thinks I want to hear: AWW, YOU’RE SO CUTE MAMA! I LOVE YOU MAMA!”

Ouch.

Less than a year ago I was marveling at how completely transparent Graham was, about how a two-year-old’s tantrums were born of the kind of pure emotion adults wish they had the freedom to express.

But now it is clear he is experimenting with how to manipulate his words and actions in order to get his way and placate those around him.

It is funny and fascinating and oddly discomfiting all at the same time.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

45 comments:

Trudie said...

Yes, Graham has entered a new phase in his development - one that is not easy to deal with for exactly the same reasons you've pointed out. He's testing the waters, checking to see how far he can go, trying different ways of behaving - all the time checking to see what effect it has on you and other people arund him.
In my experience, this is the stage where consistency is the most important. In other words - his inappropriate behaviour can never be cute, a head butt can never garner him a hug. Sometimes you'll feel as if you won't be able to keep it up until he truly understands what this is all about - but please try and persist!

Leanne said...

Yep, I remember. It gets better though.

Just keep repeating yourself until he's uh, about twenty, about what's appropriate and what's not.

Oh, and check on him a lot while he's sleeping so you remeber how cute he is.

SciFi Dad said...

nodding

The same thing is happening at our house. She's experimenting with lying too (which I feel is the natural progression from where Graham is at) now, just to see if she gets caught or not.

Just like you said: fascinating, but also a little disconcerting.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Trudie knows what she's talking about--even when it's kinda cute you you can never let them know it's kinda cute.

Life As I Know It said...

Yeah, listen to Trudie. She speaks wisely.

It is amazing how quickly they learn social cues and interactions.

Valarie said...

My mama always told me it's the smart ones that learn how to manipulate early. So, when my children started to lie to me, I just told myself it was because they were so smart. It helped some. :)

Lori said...

smart cookie you've got there! at least he is saying nice things and not mean things... ok I'm stretching buttt

Krystyn said...

Oh, I'm so scared....we're already at the fake "sorry" state! She has no idea what it really means, but thinks she can get away with anything when she says it! Drat!

Colleen said...

Oh I hear ya. My 3-yo knows when he's pushed my buttons too far, then will say, "Mom?" And I irritatedly say, "WHAT?" He bats his lovely brown eyes at me and says, "I love you." I love you too, you little....

kbreints said...

Henry is just starting to know how to use sarcasm... and I think that I am already over it... just another part of kids though... parenting just does not get easier-- it just changes all the time.

HRH said...

They are such complicated creatures. Cute and complicated.

Vered said...

I know. I went through this with my kids. They can't stay innocent forever, can they? And of course, we wouldn't want them to. Still, sad.

mamatulip said...

I hear ya. Over here, everything is Oliver's fault where Julia is concerned. She could be holding the smoking gun and it would still be his fault.

Heather said...

My son is also excellent at this. He acts like a brat until I'm ready to explode, then he'll say something like "I love you sooooo much Mommy!" or "You're so pretty Mama."

The survival instinct is strong.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Yep.

Stephanie said...

I think you are one step ahead of me. We're currently trying to work on theword "please". I had no idea it got more difficult!

Are You Serious! said...

♡ It's so true! Very well said! :)

Shannon said...

It's a difficult phase, but it will change in the next year or two . . . to some degree. My four year old does "get it" but still pulls out the old tricks on occasion. The two year old says things like "sorry" all the time without truly understanding the meaning. Wouldn't you like to get into their little minds sometimes and really see what they're thinking??????

Nap Warden said...

Oh my little Miss Peach is doing the exact same thing...makes parenting a bit more challenging...doesn't it?

LaskiGal said...

Trudie nailed it . . .

He is growing. Thinking. Evaluating his world. Taking it all in. Learning to use words. Learning all about their power . . . or potential power.

I'm certain is is frustrating (I'll be where you are in just a couple short years), but just think of what you've done to get him there . . . and you are the most perfect teacher when it comes to teaching him the true value of words and what they can and cannot do.

But I must say, if my little guy told me I was cute and gave me a hug when I was trying to show him right from wrong, I'd probably melt . . . ugh!

KathyLikesPink said...

Hmmm. Toddler manipulation? Or just learning a male trait early?

Yes that sounded snarky...but I'm not completely kidding!

Kellan said...

Yes - this is an interesting stage - the way they play with words and it is often so cute!!!

Hope you had a good day, Kelly - see you - Kellan

Jobthingy said...

uh huh

Elaine A. said...

Oh this is so true. My son does the same thing by spouting the "I love you Mommy" when he knows he may be in some trouble soon!

Tranny Head said...

Just think - it could be so much worse . . . he could be a GIRL! *snort*

krissy said...

Ya gotta give the kid credit....
manipulating his mom at this age? Quite impressive.

My daughters apologies are through grinded teeth and complete with eye rolls.

Motherhood can make you explode with joy or explode with exhaustion. I'm running on exhaustion right about now having a pre-teen daughter.

Thanks for the sweet comment on my blog. I love you too.

Helen E.M. Wright said...

On the bright side, it's nice to know that he can 'read people' and is acceptable of 'social norms'.

JCK said...

Some people would call that charm. ;)

I have a 3 year old girl who is very similar - most especially at the "I'm Sorry" part.

wheelsonthebus said...

At least you know he is developing right on schedule...

Laura said...

Next comes the "You're the bestest in the world" phase, followed by the "Can I have the Car phase" and the " I hate you while slamming door phase" and the with time and age, the "Love you mom" phase!

Good luck!

Hope all is well.

InTheFastLane said...

And let the manipulation begin.

Angella said...

Oh, I hear you on this. I have two boys who know how to use their words.

You wrote about it more eloquently than I ever could. I nodded my head along with what you were saying :)

David said...

He is Canadian! We apologize for everything.
Cute at that age. My 14 year old still comes out of the gate with "sorry, sorry, sorry" every time he notices my look of horror at the state of his room.
It never goes away.
He also still melts me.

Confessions of A Mississippi Mom said...

Yeah my twins have learned how to comforting for mama, it works LOL sorry sappy

Lady M said...

Nothing quite like a toddle for wild use of words in experimentation. "I think that word does not mean what I think it means," (from the Princess Bride) comes to mind!

womaninawindow said...

Discomforting, for sure, these little kids have got one on us. They know our "games" but they're so cute, they're better at it!

OHmommy said...

Wow.... Trudie is right on. It is a stage where he is testing everythng trying to figure out his placement. Nice to have such educated readers!


Ummm... how many days left? Has the countdown begun?

MamaGeek said...

Oh DMD, you write so beautifully. That last sentence summed it up PERFECTLY!

Aunt Becky said...

*nods head*

Yup.

anglophilefootballfanatic.com said...

Oh, I'm right there with you. I understand the manipulate factor. And, when they think please means they get it NO MATTER WHAT. Good luck. Have a few stiff ones.

C said...

I have a feeling I'll be coming back to this post again sometime in the future! Our little one only arrives in 7 months, so I still have time before I experience what you're going through! :)

Great post as always!

kittenpie said...

Mine tried deflecting by having her doggie do things she's not allowed to. Yeah. So a standard line in our house is that she's in charge of her doggie and she had better have a talk with her about whether that is okay and why. Which is interesting, because I hear her doing just that, so I know she knows!

La La said...

Your writing is stellar. Your boy is adorable and lucky to have you! You are perceptive and observant, and he will do fine because he has YOU.

John-Michael said...

With the slight bit of insight into your Spirit and intellect, I haven't a moment's hesitation in comfort with your soon communicating to Graham the difference between what resides in his heart and what passes his lips. That you even have the insight and concern that you have shared here bespeaks a love and involvement that is the best of hopes for his early development of a sterling character.

Lovingly ...

ed said...

A片,A片,A片,A片,A片,A片情趣用品,情趣,A片,AIO,AV,AV女優,A漫,免費A片,AIO交友愛情館,愛情公寓,情色,情色貼圖,色情小說,情色小說,情色文學,色情,寄情築園小遊戲,色情遊戲,嘟嘟情人色網,一葉情貼圖片區,情色論壇,色情影片,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人,18成人,成人影城,成人圖片區,成人圖片,成人貼圖,UT聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室,哈啦聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,聊天室尋夢園,視訊聊天室,視訊聊天

麻將,台灣彩卷,六合彩開獎號碼,運動彩卷,六合彩,線上遊戲,矽谷麻將,明星3缺一,橘子町,麻將大悶鍋,台客麻將,公博,game,,中華職棒,麗的線上小遊戲,國士無雙麻將,麻將館,賭博遊戲,威力彩,威力彩開獎號碼,龍龍運動網,史萊姆,史萊姆好玩遊戲,史萊姆第一個家,史萊姆好玩遊戲區,樂透彩開獎號碼,遊戲天堂,好玩遊戲,遊戲基地,無料遊戲王,好玩遊戲區,麻將遊戲,好玩遊戲區,小遊戲,遊戲區,電玩快打,cs online情趣用品,情趣,情趣商品,A片,AIO交友愛情館,AIOAV女優,AV,A漫,免費A片,本土自拍,自拍,愛情公寓,情色,情色貼圖,色情小說,情色小說,情色文學,色情,寄情築園小遊戲,色情遊戲,色情影片,情色網,色情網站,微風成人區,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人,18成人,成人影城,成人圖片區,成人圖片,成人貼圖,成人文章,成人小說,UT聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室,哈啦聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,聊天室尋夢園,080中部人聊天室,080聊天室,中部人聊天室,080苗栗人聊天室,苗栗人聊天室,免費視訊聊天,免費視訊,視訊聊天室,視訊聊天情趣用品,情趣,情趣商品,愛情公寓,情色,情色貼圖,色情小說,情色小說,情色文學,色情,寄情築園小遊戲,色情遊戲,AIO交友愛情館,一葉情貼圖片區,情色論壇,色情影片,色情網站,微風成人區,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人,18成人,成人影城,成人圖片,成人貼圖,成人圖片區,成人文章,成人小說,A片,AV女優,AV,A漫,免費A片,自拍,UT聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室,哈啦聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,聊天室尋夢園,080中部人聊天室,080聊天室,080苗栗人聊天室情趣用品,情趣,情趣商品,愛情公寓,情色,情色貼圖,色情小說,情色小說,情色文學,色情,做愛,寄情築園小遊戲,色情遊戲,AIO交友愛情館,AIO,色情影片,情色網,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人,18成人,成人影城,成人圖片,成人貼圖,成人圖片區,成人文章,成人小說,成人電影,麗的色遊戲,自拍,A片,AV女優,AV,A漫,視訊交友網,視訊,視訊交友,免費視訊聊天室,免費視訊,視訊聊天,視訊聊天室,UT聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室,哈啦聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,聊天室尋夢園