Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thank You

Today I brought The Boss with me into the basement. We stepped over puddles that would send any other homeowner running to the nearest sump pump dealer, only to find out there ain't nothing that will keep a 200+ year old house dry. The Boss wobbled her way along the edges of the trench that ran the entire perimeter of the foundation. There was the thin sound of water in a skinny stream. We stopped at the washing machine.

I was pleased to find that The Boss is shaping up to be the housekeeper I never was. "Here," I said, handing her a sock. "Will you please help mama do the laundry?"

She took the sock. "Thank you," she said. Then she threw it through the front loading portal.

I handed her a tee shirt.

"Thank you." In it went.

Another sock. "Thank you."

A pair of boxers. "Thank you."

Another "thank you" and she was tangled up in one of her father's shirts. While she tried to extricate herself from the armpit stains, I snuck the rest of the load into the basin. I marveled at this girl of mine, who has been saying "thank you" in all the right places since before she was a year old. Amidst unexceptional motor skills and an average vocabulary, it is her manners that stand out.

I can't claim any responsibility for this whatsoever. Not because I am an innate ingrate, but because I know my mother was the one who taught this to her. I dropped her off one weekend at nana and poppy's house when she was about ten months old to find a changed girl upon my return. Though she couldn't walk or indulge in a conversation that didn't involve "da," "dog," or "gak," she would accept the cup from your hand with a "thank you." Then she would sip from it, exhaling with that audible sigh of quenched thirst when she was through. If you gave her food, she'd say "mmmmm."

All these were things nana taught her. From me, she got nothing. No tricks to whip out at a party. No sweet gestures that make others giggle at her gratitude.

It's a sad realization that I must not play with her enough. I don't test her imagination and her intellect with every interaction. Of course, I don't do a lot of things that grandparents know how to do, being that they're generations deep into parenthood and I'm just starting out. Being that they have time and memory. Being that they can send the kid home when they're done.

I know I have to cut myself some slack. But I also have to remember something:

It's not just The Boss who has a lot of learning to do.


jen said...

ahhh. i so know what you mean. if M learns something somewhere else i feel guilt that it wasn't me, and gratitude that she's learned it at all.

slack is due, yes.

Mrs. Chicken said...

Yes. I feel terrible for not making The Poo's every minute a learning game. I feel bad when she shuts my laptop and says "All done, Mamma!"

Then I realize that all my memories of my mother are of her cleaning around me, and that I try to spend the majority of my time playing with my girl.

As I am certain you do. I have a feeling your mothering skills are far, far beyond your own understanding.

Binkytown said...

I too felt like a failure after my mother taught Finn to do "SO BIG" AND give kisses in one afternoon before he could even speak but fear not, she is soaking you up every minute of the day. You don't even know how much you have taught her already. At least she's not swearing.

Jen said...

Learning is something they will do from everything you do...or say... if you ask my daughter "What's Daddy?" She will reply, "A Polack!"

Linda said...

Gee, I wish my 14-year old would do laundry as well as your little one!

Michele said...

I finally got you back in my bloglines. Missed you.

I always feel guilty when my kids do something that I know I didnt teach them. They learned it at "school" and I will reinforce it but it still makes me feel like I slacked off somewhere.

patches said...

Always be proud when your children adopt any social graces, courtesies, or considerations of others whether they learned them from you or not. Others will always benefit and you will usually by credited withcompliments about your child's behavior. So what if you're not always the teacher. It's equally important to be a reinforcer.

Lauren said...

You're an incredible mama. I mean you watch foreign tv shows for pete's sake! And I'm sure the Boss gets her "uh oh" from you. :)

Mom101 said...

Wow, I'm just excited that my daughter can say "all done," even if she doesn't say it at the right time. And here you are with a future Emily Post on your hands! Impressive indeed.

jen said...

game on, sister. The American Dream coming up.

But expect there to be some quid pro quo.


T. said...

Just wait till you show the Boss a thing or two, when she brings her babies to you!