Twisted Requests

My kids have a really annoying way of expressing themselves sometimes.

I know how to translate, but usually they catch me when I’m half-there and concentrating on something that requires intense focus, like making chicken curry or trying to find that missing $0.09 in the bank rec.

Here are some examples:

“How come we never eat ground beef anymore?”

(we had it last night in the form of burgers.??)

“I never get to hold the baby!”

(you just held her for 25 minutes while I was in the shower.??)

“Why don’t you ever buy bread at Trader Joe’s?”

(you finished the last slice of it with breakfast. ??)

In my half-aware state I sometimes engage with the actual question (which of course goes absolutely nowhere, since it has little basis in reality) rather than what I’d do if I were paying attention, which is to insist that they make a request or statement of preference.  But most of them would rather DIE than make a request, apparently. It’s more fun for them to ask ridiculous questions like the above rather than say, “I prefer beef tacos to chicken, can we have that next time?” or “May I please hold the baby?” or “Will we buy more bread next time we go to the store?”

Notice the common thread, too is the use of “never,” “ever” and “always.” These types of statements are rarely true (did I almost just write “never?” You’ll have to guess) and as such I have long had a rule that they must rephrase such statements. Invariably the result is much less inflammatory. “You never let me play with you” incites much more of a defensive response than “You sometimes like to play alone.”

Sigh. I suppose the only way to get them out of this habit is to continue making them rephrase each time? Yeah, I figured. :/ How come they never learn?

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6 Responses to Twisted Requests

  1. ann kraeger says:

    Because they rarely grow up as quickly as we’d like in such situations.

  2. Suzanna says:

    Sarah,
    I very much look forward to your blog and your writing:) Thank you!
    I hope one day you write something that is published(if you haven’t already).
    I apologize for the delay on the other project….. getting ready to go to Houston and lots of medical stuff.

  3. Katherine Lauer says:

    Ah, you don’t know how many times growing up that I was forced to rephrase myself! Always! I was never allowed to just say it how I wanted! ;P (You know, melencholic me, I love the absolutes and use them to this day!)

  4. Sheila says:

    Yes, I’m pretty sure reminding them a million times is the only solution! It took me YEARS to get where I would say “may I” instead of “can I” and “yes please” instead of “sure.” Those were some of my dad’s (many) pet peeves. But I get it right now!

    It’ll probably take more years to get my husband’s down. I tend to say, “It would be nice if you would” or “If you want to help out, you can” instead of “Please do X.” Or even just “Do X.” He’s all for simplicity … I hate making a direct request because it sounds like I’m not leaving the other person the option to say no.

    • Sarah says:

      Isn’t that funny, I used to do the same thing (may even have slipped back into the habit) but I read one of those books like “Men are from Mars…” and it specifically said something about that – how men want to be asked by asking “WILL you” not “could you” or “would you” etc because it is simple. I asked my husband and all the men I knew and they all agreed that they prefer that! I find it weird and it still feels impolite to me.

    • Sarah says:

      Sheila, I’m not sure if you subscribed to the comments on my other post but I did respond to your question about church, there. And to this comment as well, under that post.

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