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The Magic Words Lesson

Teachings of a Three Year Old

by Hal Evan Caplan
April 21, 2008

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The Magic Words Lesson
My three year old teaches me lessons on a regular basis. I admit I tend to get caught up in the fast paced game called "Life" and as my wife puts it; my head sometimes spins like a top. My teacher somehow knows exactly when to reel me back with one of his lessons. This is another reason why I realize I am the one learning from him.

My wife and I have done our best to instill upon my three year old teacher that good manners are very important, and he has taken this very seriously. On one occasion he heard a child speaking to an adult where the child used the word "yeah" instead of "yes". My teacher found this to be very disturbing. So he decided to approach the child and explain that the child said "it" wrong. I of course had to intercept his little crusade at that moment and explain to him that the child has a parent, and that it was the parent's job to correct the situation. Of course he did not agree with me.

Recently we had plans to join my in-laws for a luncheon to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday. My wife and I were rushing around gathering the necessary items and making preparations needed for the outing. Once those were completed, it was time to dress my teacher in his nice clothes.

I learned several months ago that you do not dress your child first and then gather up the needed items because there is no telling what he could get into. Let's just say from previous experience, cheddar flavored gold fish, and a nice CLEAN white button-down shirt, do not go well together for small children. Unless of course you plan to change your child multiple times before you even leave the house.

My wife had laid out the dressy clothes that my teacher was to wear to the luncheon. It was a good thing that she did, because I readily admit I am clothing-style challenged. Seriously, if it weren't for my wife persuading me which clothes really are stylish and look nice, my teacher would have probably showed up to the luncheon in his pajamas or a very cheddar cheese goldfish stained white shirt.

As I pulled off my teacher's t-shirt, I demanded that he put on the clean, dressy one. Suddenly there was serious resistance from my teacher. Not only was he resisting, but he had started his lesson and he was determined that I learn.

"Hurry, let's put your clean shirt on." I barked.
"No!"
"Come on...we don't want to be late for Papo's birthday." I pleaded.
"No!" He repeated.

Okay, so I figured my teacher was becoming a creature of habit and he needed to put his pants on before his shirt... what can I say, it seemed legitimate to me at the time.

"Okay...let's put on your pants then..." I advised.
"NO!" He answered.

"We need to get going." I emphasized.
"NOO!" He wailed.
"I thought you wanted to go?" I asked.
"I do." He answered.
I had zero idea what the deal was at this point...

"NOW LISTEN SON..." I started.
"But you forgot something, Dad!" He advised.
Okay, I was at a loss...what HAD I forgotten? He had his underwear on, his socks were on his feet...and I was in the process of trying to put on his shirt and pants. I was clueless.

I let out a huge sigh... So I asked, "What could I have possibly forgotten?"
"DUHHH...Something very important!" He exploded.

"You forgot to say...PLEASE." He announced.

From the seated position on the couch, I dropped to my knees. I shook my head in disgust at myself. I could not believe that I forgot to say one of the most important words in the English language.

"You are absolutely right...Daddy is wrong!" I reassured him.
"I am so sorry that I forgot to say the magic word to you, and thank you for reminding me."
"That?s okay". He replied.
"Please can we put on your shirt and pants?" I asked.
"Yes." He said with a huge grin on his face.

I tried to give him a hug in order to deepen the apology, but he wouldn't let me.

"Dad, we don't have time to do that, we have to go now!"

With that I think we set the speed record for the fastest time in getting dressed. We raced out the door and jumped into the car.

In a nutshell, the lesson I learned that day is: No matter what the situation at hand my be, always remember to say the magic words PLEASE and THANK YOU.

Comments (1)


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Janet from Virginia writes:
April 21, 2008
It's really cool that your son thought it was important to say "please" even when he felt a sense of urgency to get to the event. Great article! Thanks so much.

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PO BOOKS BY HAL EVAN CAPLAN
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke
Published September 28, 2010

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

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A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

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