Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Unintentional Benefits

I know that there are all sorts of debates in the media, on blogs, and in chat rooms about the perils and evils of daycare for children. I, myself, rarely read such articles and arguments, mostly because I figure that I’m doing the best I can. My friends are doing the best they can, most mamas are doing the best they can, and it’s all just a smokescreen to keep us all from discussing the fact that almost ½ million kids in Ohio are hungry or at-risk for hunger every day. (I swear, this fact is just really bothering me today. Babies being hungry - I really don’t know what to do with that. I mean besides give money and food to the local food pantries. That I can do).

So the point of this particular post is not to convince anyone that childcare is either good or bad. Rather, I wanted to share a particularly pleasant unintended consequence of having Zane in childcare.

As I’ve never mentioned Zane’s caregivers before, I should probably give a little information about them. Not the identify-them-so-you-could -figure-out-where-my-child-spends-his-Tuesdays- Wednesdays-and-Thursdays type of information, but just a brief introduction. For the three days a week that I work, Zane stays with friends of our family. They are a retired couple who will never have grandchildren – much to their chagrin, and we’ve known them for almost 20 years. Zane calls them “grandpa” and “grandma” and practically sprints out of the car in the mornings to get into their arms.

They don’t watch any other kids, so Zane is the focus of all of their attention and affection for three days straight. Sometimes I’m surprised he’s willing to come home with SRH when he picks him up. In fact, I’m sure he’s only willing to come back to our house because of the train table.

So back to the unintentional, but very wonderful, outcome of my child being in someone else’s care for 24 hours per week: I have a very polite child. And it’s not my doing. Oh sure, we say "Please" and "Thank You" on a regular basis, but my kid is really polite. He’s as polite as those dear folks who watch him for us.

Zane’s been saying "Please" on a regular basis since he was 18 months old. This might not sound like a remarkable achievement, but Zane only spoke about 15 words at 18 months old. (Zane is unofficially a “late talker” – a fact that freaked out my mom for months, but I’ve never been too concerned about).

And Zane never says, "Thank You". Oh, no. "Thank You" is for those impolite clods who do not know how to express proper appreciation for the good deeds of others. Zane says, Thank you sooooo much. People, especially waiters and waitresses, invariably respond with You’re welcome soooo much and then dote on him and bring him extra goodies.

I’m thinking about Zane’s particular brand of politeness today because the following happened at the dinner table this evening:

Zane spilled some juice. Well, okay, he spit some juice on the table.

Me: Zaney, you need to wipe that juice up. It’s not okay to spit your juice on the table. We keep juice in our mouth.

Zane: (Still deciding whether he’s going to keep on spitting out the remaining juice and risk the wrath of mama, grudgingly says)

Okay, mama.

(Zane takes the paper towel and starts wiping up the juice).

Me: Thank you, buddy. That’s a very good boy cleaning up the mess he made. Thanks so much.

(Because now he has me thinking that thanking someone “so much” is the only way to adequately express gratitude).

Zane: You’re quite welcome.

I am “quite welcome”? Where did he get that? Not at our house, I can tell you. SRH and I looked at each other and just marveled at our polite little toddler who didn’t learn those fancy, mannered words at our house.

The world's most polite child!

Turns out, having your kid in childcare can be a little like having someone else raise your child – if you’re lucky. We’re going to get grandma and grandpa to tackle potty training next.


SRH said...

He really is disturbingly polite. I just don't know where he gets that level ov politeness from.

Mom said...

I don't even know what to say to this one.

You know what he got from me.

Zany Mama said...

You know, the more I think about this, the more I think we should start taking credit for his politeness. I mean, the chances that he will excel in other areas are quite low - due to his poor genetic heritage - and although he might overcome the legacy from his parents (lord knows I did), he may be content to be just like us. (Eek!)

Therefore, we should take his politeness as evidence of good parenting. It may be the only thing we have.

Mom -
Yes, we know what he got from you, but we're talking about his GOOD grandparents today.