Spin Cycle: The Magic Words

April 24, 2009 12:21 am

Hi, how are you today? Today’s post was written in conjunction with this week’s Spin Cycle topic on manners. For more politeness, you’re welcome to visit Sprite’s Keeper. Thank you! You look nice today, btw.


I was raised to use my manners. If my mom caught me being disrespectful or rude, I got a bar of soap in my mouth. She even ground it in my teeth to leave something to really help teach me a lesson. Her strictness paid off and I was so damn polite that other adults would often stop my parents to comment on my manners. I’m still polite to a fault but my manners aren’t infectious like I would have hoped for. Somehow along the line, I formed the misconception that other people should behave in a similar polite manner and they just don’t. When I had kids, I was determined not to let them turn into rude little assholes like some kids I’ve witnessed. Kids aren’t always going to be on their “best” behavior but as a parent,Β  I feel that it’s my job to step in and teach them how to behave.

From the get go, we’ve drilled manners into Graham. He says “please and thank you” when he asks for or receives anything and if he doesn’t, he’s out of luck until he remembers his manners. “Excuse me” is commonly used for a burp (or fart) and “Shoo shoo” (bless you) is offered up for a sneeze (or a cough, he hasn’t figured out the difference between the two yet). We’re still working on “share” but usually, he’ll mumble the word before he rips the requested item out of your hand. Upon meeting people, he usually chimes in with a (sometimes prompted) “hi, how are you?” I do realize that most of these manners haven’t really clicked yet but the fact is that he’s forming the groundwork for later on. Hopefully, he won’t turn into that bully who ruins another kid’s lunch.

We frequent a lot of places in the toddler circuit and the behavior that I’ve witnessed from other kids (and their parents inability to actually parent ) is just plain unacceptable. My two year old has better manners than many of the adults I’ve come across. Sure, he also has his moments of being a tantrumy two year old but those are the situations that I remove him from if possible.

As my kids get older, I realize that my problem isn’t just with other kids, it’s also with their parents. I’ve had to step in and be the playground police on more than one occasion when the parent was too busy talking on the phone to acknowledge that their kid was being a bully. My bossy demeanor is going to come to a head one day when I stop the wrong brat in his/her tracks but I don’t care. Bring it. Here is the recent handywork of someone’s asshole kid:

That gouge is the result of a cell phone talking parent whose little angel swung a bucket into Elliot’s face at Gymboree. I was sitting on the ground next to her and turned to watch Graham climb the equipment when BAM!, Elliot had a nice slice down her forehead. Only after Elliot started screaming did the parent realize that her kid was involved in the commotion and came running over. At least she got off of the phone.

I’ve recently lost my verbal filter when it comes to my kids. I have no problem stopping the playground bully in his tracks and making them curb the obnoxious behavior. Last week, some brat was telling Graham and another kid that they were “babies” and couldn’t play were playing. I shot the kid my “I’m going to kill your parents if you say one more thing to my kid, you little asshole” look and he got the message. We enjoyed some nice play time with the former bully and he actually turned out to be a decent kid once he figured out that there was an actual adult supervising him.

So manners, yeah.. we have them. I worry about my kids possessing them and getting walked all over but it’s better than the alternative. My manners are in use and on alert unless you screw with one of my kids. Don’t try me.


As much as I like to pledge my hatred to that stupid purple dinosaur, Barney has taught us a lot in this house. From the second I saw this week’s Spin Cycle topic, the following song has been running through my head:

There are lots of things
We can do to be nice,
Sometimes they’re hard to remember.
But there are two little things
You should never forget,
From January through December.

He’s talking ’bout please and thank you,
They’re called the magic words,
If you want nice things to happen,
They’re the words that should be heard,
Remember please and thank you,
‘Cause they’re the magic words.

Use ’em in the morning, at noon, and night,
‘Cause it’s a great way to be polite!
Please and thank you,
They’re the magic words.

We’re talking ’bout please and thank you,
They’re called the magic words.
If you want nice things to happen,
They’re the words that should be heard!

Remember please and thank you,
‘Cause they’re the magic words.
Use ’em in the morning, at noon, and night,
‘Cause it’s a great way to be polite!

Please and thank you,
They’re the magic words.

Looking for some good toddler reading? These are some of Graham’s favorites.



  1. Wendy

    Thanks for noticing. You look nice today, too. btw.

    …and it’s hard to not say something when you know the kids just learn by example. I know, too. But, when your child grows up and moves away and calls you one day to say “mom, people my age are stupid and rude”.. you know you must have done something right.


    Wendys last blog post..Afternoon Quicky with Wendy 4.23.09

  2. Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)

    Good Morning, how are you? You’re looking mighty fine this morning, too! πŸ˜‰

    My parents were big on washing our mouths out with soap if we misplaced our manners, too… I agree – the problem isn’t just with other kids, it’s with their parents. Poor Graham! That slice on his forehead does not look pleasant! At least the offending child’s mom actually got off her cell phone to rush over, but still…

    Both hubby and I are anti-Barney but you’re right – he does have a lot of good lessons, and that song in particular was one that got sung a lot while reminding others (Princess Nagger and anyone in the immediate vicinity) about the Magic Words. πŸ˜‰

    Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)s last blog post..Little Miss Manners – Spin Cycle

  3. Peggy

    Poor Elliot! Sounds like you got it covered Casey…I’m the queen of dirty looks but being a non-confrontational type I usually keep my mouth shut when it comes to other people’s children. (Unless it is truly warranted ie; dangerous).

    I like to quote the oompa loompas…”who do you blame when a kid is a brat…the mother and the father…”

    Peggys last blog post..And I Couldn’t Resist…

  4. Christy

    I know what you mean…there’s nothing (as a mom) that you won’t do if your kids are not being treated right. You go into Mama Bear mode. It’s hard to believe the way some kids behave and their parents don’t intervene! I love manners…you guys can come play at our house any time!

  5. WickedStepMom

    Kids are jerks unless someone is around to reign them in. Parents just don’t seem to care anymore.

    WickedStepMoms last blog post..Miss Manners?

  6. Andrea

    I hear you. Here it’s a free for all. Parents DO NOT get involved in matters on the playground. It is an actual cultural thing. It’s the main reason we stopped going to the playground and moved from our apartment into a house with a yard. So my kids don’t have to put up with crap from other kids whose parents don’t care. The American expats call it King of the Playground – he who survives wins. And it’s true.
    I will be more than happy to tell off your kid, as politely as I can, if they are doing something inappropriate to my kid. If their messing around on their own and not hurting another kid, it’s your fault as the parent for not watching them or caring. But you come near my kids and it’s game on.

    Andreas last blog post..Candid Carrie’s Photo Friday and Friday’s Feast F2

  7. cat

    that’s quite a gash on poor elliot’s forehead, and the look in her eyes suggests she is not too happy about it (or she’s drunk). way to go mom for teaching your kids some manners!

    cats last blog post..due

  8. Cara

    Well, Casey, you are lookin’ mighty pretty today, too!

    I have no patience for jerkface kids & their asswipe parents. How’s that for manners for you? I expect Bear to say please & thank you & if someone is offering her something, I won’t let her have it until she has offered up both of those phrases.

    Caras last blog post..Eight Things

  9. FoN

    That post was so awesome until the end when you went and stuck that Barney song in my head,. How rude.

    FoNs last blog post..Fat Chick vs. Food – Week Sixteen

  10. Sprite's Keeper

    Poor Elliot!
    I hate having to police the playground, but will if I have to especially when there’s big kids around who run all over the younger ones.
    And you’re right. Sometimes, the parents are worse than their children!
    You’re linked!

    Sprite’s Keepers last blog post..Spin Cycle: Say "Peez"….

  11. Sammanthia

    I’m the same way, and since we’ve moved to the south I’ve tried to teach my kids to end with “sir” or “ma’am”, just because it’s something I’ve noticed people say a lot here. Manners is a simple matter of respect- it’s showing someone you respect them, but sadly, a lot of parents are too busy to bother teaching their kids about respect. Or common decency. It’s aggravating, really. When did manners become optional?

    Sammanthias last blog post..The Cost Of Removing Three Scratches From My Wood Floors? $15. The Cost Of Two Popsicles? $1. Realizing Maybe I Don’t Suck After All? Priceless.

  12. Robin

    Poor baby! That looks like it huuuurt!
    I have no tolerance for obnoxious kids. But like you said, it’s usually a direct reflection on the parents. Sigh.
    Purple font! Nice touch!

    Robins last blog post..The Handmade’s Tale: Deirdre Ryan Fine Art Photography

  13. mrsbear

    Max is pretty good about saying thank you or tent choo. He also manages to behave himself in a public setting, yet he is constantly punching his brother in the stomach. Go figure, he always apologizes and hugs him after though.

    Sometimes you’ve got to play the roll of pitbull mom. I think it’s common to every playground setting, there’s always one (or twenty) looking to see what they can get away with, especially with the smaller kids and no supervision.

    Poor Elliot with that gouge on her forehead and her sad eyes. πŸ™

    mrsbears last blog post..Not My Kids – Spin Cycle

  14. ck

    (Some) other parents are THE WORST! Last week my daughter was playing with a girl we didn’t know and the girl cut my daughter’s hand with a bucket. And didn’t apologize. In fact, after my daughter screamed enough the mother finally apologized on behalf of her daughter but never told the daughter to apologize too.

    What planet are we on?

    cks last blog post..f-it. that’s me

  15. HeatherPride

    Poor Elliot!! I think that kids will generally do what they can get away with doing when they’re little. That’s why it’s so important for parents to be super vigilant with their little guys. Otherwise they grow into little jerks. You’re doing great – I wish other parents were on top of it as much as you are!

    HeatherPrides last blog post..Fat Girls Club, Week 7: Stress. It Does a Body Good

  16. Anne

    Thank you for having me, I always enjoy visiting. You are looking lovely this morning.

    There are always moms ignoring their kids on the playground. I watch mine and make sure that they are careful, especially when there are smaller kids around. Luckily, it is something they learn and you don’t have to watch them as carefully as they get older.

    Annes last blog post..I Can Totally Relate

  17. GreenJello

    Good morning. Thank you for allowing me to comment on your lovely blog this fine day.

    I completely agree with you that the problem is the parent(s). Manners are best learned by example, and if the parent is a jerk, the kid will be, too.

    GreenJellos last blog post..Friday Fill-Ins

  18. Keely

    My parents were strict with manners but never got as extreme as soap. My kid eats shampoo and licks deoderant like it’s a delightful snack so I’m thinking that won’t be a great deterrant.

    Keelys last blog post..Fuck you, Rent-a-Nerd: Funky Foto Flashback

  19. K

    I’m big on manners too.

    (And I hate the moms who stay on the phone the whole time – whether it’s at the park or grocery shopping.)

    Ks last blog post..Why Blog?

  20. Ginger

    Good Morning, Miss Casey. How in the world are ya? This was a wonderful post about manners, bless your pea pickin’ heart!

    Bein’ southern and all, my parents MADE me behave. My mother was the Queen Inventor of “the look”. And I agree with you. I think everyone should behave nicely and when they are rude, it really irks the dickens out of me!

    Gingers last blog post..A Thousand Words Thursday # 7

  21. Lisa

    When Jonathan burbs he says “oooh me.” It is so funny! I had that mom on the cellphone thing happen to me when Jonathan was shoved down the stairs at the playground last fall. I shot her the nastiest look and snatched Jonathan up and went home.

    Lisas last blog post..Manners and crazy neighbors

  22. Kia (Good Enough Mama)

    So how did you shake that filter? I NEED to shake mine. I’m still such a wuss when it comes to playgrounds and other kids’ shitty parents. Damn. I want to be you.

  23. The Stiletto Mom

    I think my parents used electric shock therapy for bad manners. πŸ™‚

    And that mom on the cell phone? I’ll kick her ass for you next time…

    The Stiletto Moms last blog post..Um, Yeah, I’m Sorta Spoiled

  24. Lin

    PLEASE don’t hit me with that bucket. THANK YOU for not putting it in my eye instead of gouging my forehead. Sigh.

    I hate some parents today. The damn phone is more important than junior any day. It is really disturbing to me when you see them walking the stroller down the block, yakking on the horn instead of talking to their little one. Who’s missing out here?? Everyone.

    It’s more than manners–it just gets down to respect for others on every level. Don’t make me entertain your kid at the park or in the pool while you are on the phone or reading a magazine. Ugh. Too many people are having kids that shouldn’t.

    Lins last blog post..Field Trip Hell

  25. Jessica Bern

    oh if only you could have the sorry excuses for parents of the kids that played soccer with my kid. I wish you’d have been there sans your mouth filter

  26. bex

    Barney, is annoying, but we sing the clean up song quite a lot.

    One doesn’t incorporate manners when it comes to the wellness of one’s child, right? That’s part of our survival instinct, right? Etiquette doesn’t count then, right?

    bexs last blog post..FFF: Look! It’s snow!

  27. Julie@Momspective

    I have absolutely no issues with scolding someone’s kid. My friend’s two boys asked if I could stop babysitting them because I actually punish them for their douchebaggery (she doesn’t). They’re lucky all I give are time outs. We had to kneel on pencils and pray the rosary.

    Julie@Momspectives last blog post..Fitness Friday-My First Week of My EA SPORTS Active Challenge!

  28. Captain Dumbass

    My oldest had an “issue” around sharing this week and wound up crying all the way to school. His home reading book, that he picked, was on manners. Teacher didn’t help him either, just picked it randomly.

    Captain Dumbasss last blog post..Remember When Super Man Flew Around The World Really Fast And Made It Turn The Other Way And Time Went Backwards?

  29. anymommy

    Just got home from a park with a free bouncy castle. It had a few loose balls in it – big kids, little kids. Nightmare. Eight year old boys pelting toddlers in the face with hard plastic balls. Parents not present. Gah.

  30. Deemarie

    Good for you!! I love seeing polite kids, even if it takes prompting. I know it’s a hard job, and I’m sure you’re doing it well. Elliott and Graham will grow up to be polite, well-functioning adults!! πŸ™‚

    Deemaries last blog post..Minding Their Manners

  31. cyndi

    Hi Casey, how are you doing today? It’s so nice to read your spins on things πŸ™‚ How is gorgeous Elliot doing? I hope that heals with no real scar – yowchie, as Harry would say. We have actually made some good friends in the way you mentioned, so I hope the previous tiny tyrant works out! Manners matter, and if you haven’t found Grumpy Bunny, check him out – Please Say Please is a favorite around here. Have a great day!

    cyndis last blog post..I’m American made, but I like Chevrolet

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