While my folks were here, they noticed all sorts of things about the wuggies that I never really notice, because... well... I see them every day. It was fun to see my kiddos from new perspectives, oh-so-loving, but not nearly as familiar as we’d all like.

One funny thing they noticed was that the boys are always saying “uh-oh.” Something spills... “uh-oh!” Play-table cannot be squeezed through the hallway at that angle... “uh-oh!” Illustrator of picture book failed to draw enough petals on that flower... “uh-oh!”

I hadn’t really noticed just how prominent a place that phrase has in their vocabulary, but they really do say it a lot. And come to think of it, I love it. It’s really adorable.

The other thing that they noticed was that the boys do NOT go about saying “no!” all the time. Oh, they understand the word, and say it from time to time. Perhaps more often than yes, but certainly far less often than “car,” “truck,” “whee,” or “Curie Geor.”

Which makes perfect sense, as I think about it. “Uh-oh” is by far the most exciting word around here. “No” is pretty uneventful. Just clarification. No, that’s not a doggie, that’s a cow. No, we’re not going to have any more cookies right now. But once those cookies are grabbed, once that hair is yanked, it’s “uh-oh, spagghetti-o!” And THAT is when the action happens.

The purpose behind our choice of words was to help us keep our cool. It really is rather difficult to become terribly agitated while singing “uh-oh.” (Credit must go to Jim Fay for that insight.) The “uh-oh song” has worked very well for us, and I’m thrilled at this unexpected benefit. Just as you’d expect, the boys take their cues from us as they figure out how to talk about it when things go wrong. We say “uh-oh” when they don’t cooperate with us, so they say “uh-oh” when the world doesn’t cooperate with them.

And I think that is just fabulous.

For one thing, it’s much easier on the ears. A frustrated toddler yelling “uh-oh” is just a whole lot cuter than a frustrated toddler yelling “no!”

But it goes deeper than that. “Uh-oh” is a much more productive response than “no.” In the context of a stuck play-table or a popped balloon, or some other source of toddler frustration, “no” means “Something has happened that shouldn’t have happened, it shouldn’t have happened, it shouldn’t have happened, I COMMAND IT NOT TO HAVE HAPPENED!”

“Uh-oh” means “Something has happened that shouldn’t have happened, and I will now take steps to remedy the situation, or at least prevent it from happening again...

...or on second thought, maybe I’ll just sit back and enjoy the show, because cause and effect is mighty fascinating, and there’s bound to be exciting consequences!”


Theresa said...

I talk to friends who are parents and read there blogs, and I frequently get little tips that I store away for when we have kids. That is probably the most useful tip that I've ever come across. Having the temper that I do and frequently being impatient, sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be patient enough to be a good parent. I think that that little tip may have saved me hours and hours of future frustration.

thanks! :-)

Elena said...

Jim Fay's Love and Logic books have been SO helpful for us. Much of his stuff is geared toward teachers... I'd highly recommend his books. Not just for parents, but for anyone who deals with kids on a regular basis. Or people in general, for that matter. =)

Sandi said...

So true. You have amazing patience! I tend to be like this too hoping that each thing will just be a phase.