Confession time: I do something kind of dumb with my baby. In public. On purpose. Whenever somebody gives my baby a compliment (“You are so adorable,” etc.) I give the same response.
“Say thank you!”
Dumb, I know. My child can’t say thank you. He mostly says da da da and something that sounds an awful lot like sh*t. Thank you is definitely not in his vocabulary right now.
So why do I tell my child to say thank you when I know for a fact he cannot?
Part of it is just me over-thinking the situation. If someone compliments me on my cute baby, it’s appropriate for me to say thank you. But if they are talking to my baby (knowing that my baby cannot respond back) it then behooves me to respond in behalf of my baby.
I guess I could say, “My baby doesn’t have the developmental ability to thank you yet, so on his behalf I thank you for that compliment,” but that’s a little awkward.
I guess I could say nothing at all. They know my baby can’t talk, and shouldn’t expect him to respond with anything other than the most innocent “sh*t” you’ve ever heard. But that seems a little rude on my part.
I could jump in and simply just say thank you, but technically the compliment wasn’t directed toward me. So I don’t really own the rights to express gratitude for a compliment that isn’t really mine.
So I stupidly say, “Say thank you!”
I could go on and on about teaching children early about social norms, manners, gratitude, etc. But mostly I have a feeling that the day when he can say thank you for himself will sneak up on me. And I want to be surprised.