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Monday, December 20, 2010

In Training for Christmas

Monday, December 20, 2010 By

One of the reasons Scott and I don't take Emmie some places - like, to the MCGHealth Children's Medical Center Radiothon to be interviewed - is because I never know what is going to come out of that child's mouth.

So Christmas this year is a bit of a concern. I want her to properly use her manners and show her appreciation, but I worry that, instead, relatives will get The Face. The Face is this thing she does when she doesn't get what she wants. Her little mouth turns down, her eyebrows slant back, and her voice takes on a whine that could strip the paint off your car.

 (This was the first appearance of "the face," at a mere 5 months old. 
She hated that hat.)

So I've been role-playing with her.

"Em, what do we do when we get a present?"

"Open it!"

"Well, yes, but what do we say?"

"Thank you!"

"Good! But, what if we don't like what's inside? What if it's something you already have, or something you don't want?"

"We say 'No, thank you.'"

"Eeee! Wrong!" I mimic a game show host, and she laughs. "You say 'Thank you.' What if someone gives you a present and you open it, and it's a box of poo?"

She laughs. "Uh, 'No thank you...?'"

"Eeeee! Wrong! There are no exceptions to this rule, Em. You always say thank you. When someone gives you a present, how do you feel?"


"And like they love you, right?"


"That's what they're really giving you! They're giving you happiness and love. The present in the box? Well, that's just extra. So even if you hate what they give you, you smile and say something nice about it, because they already gave you happiness and love. And you want to give some to them."

"Okay!" She nods enthusiastically.

"Let's practice. Here you go, Emmie!" I hand her an imaginary box. "Merry Christmas."

She mimics opening it and looks to me for the contents.

"It's a... HAM SANDWICH!"

"Thank you," she says, laughing. "I like samwiches."

"That's awesome, Doodle! Now try to say something specific to the gift, like how you will use it. Oh-ho! You have another present! Merry Christmas!"

She mimes opening it again. I gasp with pretend amazement: "Look, Emmie! It's a box of dirt!"

She giggles: "Oh, thank you! We hab a hole in da yard, an' dis will help me to not fall down in it."

Oh my gosh, this is awesome. Why don't I role-play with her more often? We're both belly-laughing, and it's such an amazing insight into how her mind works.

"Very good! Oh, but we're not done yet - here you go, Emmie! Merry Christmas!"

She opens the imaginary gift, and I clap my hands with faux glee: "Ooooh, it's a live cobra snake - and it bites you in the face!"

"Oh, thanks!" she says, feigning delight. "We don't hab a snake pet! And it has so berry strong fangs!"

I laugh so hard I throw my head back and bang it against the wall. She's just too much!

"Wuz that good, Mama?"

"That was awesome. I think you definitely have this down. You might even be a little dangerous."

"But... mama? Is anyone really goeend ta gib me a real snake?"

"No, baby doll. But if someone went crazy in their brain, and did, what do you say?"

"I say, 'Thank you.'"


"... but den I gonna run away."

"Yeah, I think that's probably the best course of action."


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