I’m trying to teach Caleb and Ben to be less passive-aggressive. Passive-aggressiveness is like a limp handshake; both make me squirm. (Daniel and Ella do not have this problem. They are bold about their requests. Probably a bit too bold, actually.)
Today, I took the kids to the Walmart to get Benjamin a bicycle. Tomorrow is his preschool’s annual bike rodeo, and I didn’t want him to be the only kid riding around a Big Wheel. Nothing like waiting ‘til the very last minute; the kid can’t even ride it that well and would probably have more fun in the Big Wheel, but darn it, I don’t want him to be, God forbid, DIFFERENT.
I realize I have issues.
I promised everybody I’d get a special treat for the ride home. Have you noticed how ridiculously inexpensive Oatmeal Cream Pies are? 1.42 at the Walmart. For a whole box.
I put the kids in the car and shoved Oatmeal Cream Pies in their mouths so I could listen to Alanis Morrisette in peace. (On a side note, Ella loves Alanis. She likes to sing “Everything’s gonna be fine fine fine!” I don’t play her that other song. You know what song I’m talking about. It’s the song I sing to John when I’m feeling bitter but empowered. Actually, Alanis may be the perfect example of a woman who does NOT suffer from passive-aggressive behavior.)
The kids consumed their pies before the song was over. Caleb piped up from the far-reaches of the mini-van, “I really wish I had another Oatmeal Cream Pie.”
I did not answer. After all, it was not a question. It was an irritating passive-aggressive prompt. It was like nails on a chalkboard.
He said it again.
I ignored him again.
Finally, he asked, “May I have another, please?” My method is obviously working and I am obviously brilliant.
I grinned at him in the rearview mirror. His eyes lit up and he leaned forward with eager anticipation.
“Nope! One’s enough,” I said.
The problem with training kids not to be passive-aggressive is this: when they are finally direct about their desires, the answer is almost always no.
Here are some common statements I’d like the boys to modify:
A rainy day is a good day to Play Xbox… (Accompanied by plaintive look.)
Modification: May I please play Xbox?
I guess I’ll never ever go to Disneyworld. (Big sigh.)
Modification: Can we go to Disneyworld for vacation this year?
Answer: If you can pay for it, sport.
It would be nice to have candy for snack today. (Hopeful glance.)
Modification: May we have candy for snack?
Answer: Sorry, buddy. Mommy ate all the candy about an hour ago.
And all of the Oatmeal Cream Pies, for that matter.
(I guess I’ll never ever be skinny now. Accompanied by plaintive stare.)