|Kate: 29 Months
I am so ridiculously proud of Kate’s good manners that I beam with pride when she uses them without reminders or prompts. In addition to saying “please” when she asks for something and “thank you” when she receives it, she is also beginning to recognize what compliments are! She now says “thank you” when she receives them and is even beginning to practice giving them (“I like your hair.” “I like your shirt.”).
Shortly after Kate turned 29 months old, I attended a weekend (family-friendly) work conference, which G and I decided make our very first family vacation. We stayed at a wonderful resort in Door County, Wisconsin, and G and Kate enjoyed the pool while I attended morning workshops. Our afternoons were spent enjoying family time and exploring the area, and in the evening we met back up with conference attendees and their families for dinner.
This is a good time to mention that this was actually an executive’s retreat – you know, CEOs, Executive Directors, etc. My boss (the Executive Director of our agency) would normally be the one to attend, but he was unable to this year and offered it to me instead (woot!). I was assured it was a family-friendly retreat and children were encouraged to attend. What I didn’t expect, however, was for Kate to be the youngest one in attendance – by far.
Can you imagine it?
A room full of executives sipping wine and nibbling on chocolate-covered strawberries, and I walk in with my two-year-old who had just had the longest car ride of her life (4 hours) and should’ve been in bed ten minutes ago.
A recipe for disaster, right?
That’s what I thought too!
Turns out I had nothing to worry about. Kate was so well-behaved, and I could not have been more proud!
Or at least I didn’t think I could.
Turns out I was wrong about that, too.
Dinner our second night there was at a nice restaurant, and at our table sat three Executive Directors and their spouses, me, G, and a highchair holding our two-year-old. I came armed with snacks to keep Kate happy and it worked like a charm. When our meals arrived Kate noticed I had placed my cloth napkin on my lap. She looked over at G and saw that he had done the same. When she realized she had no napkin of her own she turned back to me and discreetly pulled the napkin from my lap onto hers.
“Oh,” I whispered to Kate, “would you like to use Mommy’s napkin? We keep napkins on our laps to wipe our fingers when they get messy from eating,” I explained.
Kate then proceeded to wipe her fingers on her napkin after nearly every bite!
In addition to that, she was quiet during the speeches, clapped when others clapped, said “please” and “thank you” all throughout the night, and even laughed at other people’s jokes! (At one point when our tablemates were laughing Kate leaned to me, and whispered, “Kate’s funny!” She thought she was the one entertaining the table!)
All throughout the night people kept asking, “How old is she, again?” and couldn’t even hide their surprise when we told them. She absolutely charmed the heck out of each guest at our table, getting huge smiles and praise nearly every time she spoke.
As we walked out of the restaurant – two hours past Kate’s bedtime – I was fighting back the tears as I scooped her up and showed her with hugs and kisses, praising her for her wonderful manners and telling her how proud I was to be her mom!
I could smother her with kisses all day long if she’d let me!
But she won’t.
I know this because I’ve taught her the concept of “privacy” – how to ask for it when you need it, and how to respect others when they ask for it. We initially focused on the concept of privacy with using the bathroom. Usually when Kate needs to potty we join her in the bathroom, help her with her clothes, put her on the potty and then sit on her stool and read a book to her while she goes. Sometimes, however, Kate wants to be in there by herself, and after we put her on the potty she’ll say, “I need privacy for going potty, please.”
She has now realized that “privacy” can extend to other aspects of life. G recently found a new play kitchen for her on Craiglist that she loves. It was the first toy that we put in the new upstairs playroom/office (formerly her nursery) and when we showed it to her she squealed with delight. Her enthusiasm was contagious and soon I was kneeled down showing her the new dishes, food, where the dishwasher is, etc. Finally she turned to me all exasperated, and exclaimed, “Mama! Privacy, please!”
(Which is code for: “Mom, get out of my face.”)
In addition to her new kitchen, other things Kate loves this month include her new train set (from IKEA), and the iPad. We bought our first iPad last Christmas but didn’t introduce it to Kate until this month (we knew once that door was open there was no closing it). She learned how to navigate it in no time, and loves playing the interactive children’s apps we’ve downloaded for her. She also loves watering our houseplants – her first chore!
Things Kate doesn’t love?
Getting her picture taken.
(See the photo at the top of this post for proof. She had just finished saying, “Put the camera away, please.” when I snapped it.)
Last but not least, Kate advanced to the “older toddlers” room at daycare (the room where they start introducing kids to the potty) so she gets to wear her “big girl undies” at daycare now, too! That was the last piece of the puzzle we were waiting for so Kate could be diaper-free all day, every day. She made the transition to using the potty at daycare with no problems at all, and only wears diapers at bedtime now - we’re so proud of her!