Guest blogger Dani Klein Modisett: "Mooooom!!! You fix it! YOU FIX IT MOOOOM!" my son's best friend screamed at his mother half way through our last playdate. His "Martian Matter" toy was oozing in a way he found displeasing. The woman blushed slightly at being yelled at by her son like an army drill sergeant in front of me. I played with my baby and acted like I didn't notice how rude the boy was behaving.
"You know that's not a nice way to talk to me, Jack," she said in a measured tone. "Why don't you think about how to ask for what you want in a way that will help you get it."
I must be old school, but that's not how I respond when my son Gabriel acts up. I say less complicated things like,
"Don't speak to me that way. Ever."
Then I threaten to take away his popsicles.
What was more disturbing than the "adult speak" to a five-year-old though, was the message this mother was giving her son. She was unapologetically giving him lessons in manipulation.
She wasn't saying. "Be a nice, kind person because in the end it will make you and everyone who loves you happier." Which, granted, is also probably too sophisticated, but nevertheless, her direction for her son was to know what you want and then figure out what you have to say or do to get it. This is not the first family where I have observed this exchange between parent and child -- and I have to say, we're usually sitting in pretty fancy homes when it happens.
Maybe these rich people are on to something. I've been teaching my son about compassion and generosity, but really what I should be encouraging him to do is to mask his greed for Legos with false compliments and to charm the pants off anyone who tells him no.
|Dani Klein Modisett is the mother of one-year-old Gideon (pictured) and 5-year-old Gabriel. She is comedy writer/creator/producer of the show "Afterbirth...stories you won't read in Parents magazine." An anthology of stories from this show will be published by St. Martin's Press, in stores in May 2009.|