The Nugget Chronicles: A Habit to Break

I’ve been in a fairly regular state of amazement over how much Nugget’s language has been progressing. Seems like she’s picking up new words every few days, and there’s no real sign of it slowing down. She may not be able to walk for too long without tripping over herself, but she’s got plenty of words to describe any hurts she might have gathered while tripping. It’s been pretty phenomenal.

Of course, with her gaining words at a pretty rapid clip, there are times where she latches onto a word or two, and decides that they have become the answer to everything. A great example would be her using “sleepy” as an attempt to get out of doing something she doesn’t want to do. Thankfully, that seems to have gone away for the most part.

It’s been replaced by something a little more insidious, and something I really want to squash before it gets too much further out of hand. It’s been replaced by “help”.

A little back story for this one. A few weeks back, HawtWife’s mom came to visit for a little while. Nugget and her grandmother had a pretty good week, with plenty of focus on arts and crafts time. Over the course of that week, there was also an emphasis for Nugget to learn the phrase “Help me, please.” This all seemed well and good, and if it had remained somewhat in the context she was learning it, everything would be fine. I mean, picture a small child, unable to reach their crayon, and saying in their tiny little toddler voice “Help me, please.” Or they’re trying to get their glass of water. Or really, anything where asking for help from an adult would be both appropriate and adorable.

That’s exactly where it started. She even got a book where there is a big “help” page, to kind of assist in driving home the when and where such a phrase would be useful.

It didn’t take long for her to realize that saying “help” got her attention from her parents. After all, when she made it clear what she was asking for help for, we’d offer our aid readily. Then it started to twist a little bit to her grabbing us by the hand, saying help, and simply leading us somewhere in the house because she thought that some other room was better than the one she was currently in. A little off-putting, true, but still somewhat within the realm of reason. We did try to let her know that maybe “help” wasn’t quite the right phrase for those moments, but, well, children have their own views on what is and isn’t correct.

And now “help” has replaced “sleepy” as the de facto “I do not want to do this” phrase. With seemingly the most common time being whenever I pick her up.

If we’re at home, no big deal. I mean, I try to correct her that she should be using different words, like “no”, or “down”, or something else, but there’s nobody but the two of us. It doesn’t come out too often when she and I go for walks, because, well, we’re walking, and there’s all sorts of interesting sticks and flowers and pine cones and such to keep drawing her attention. However, when we head out to a crowded public place, like a mall, it comes out left and right. This is made more troubling by the fact that she’ll often do it simply when I’m trying to hold her hand so that she stays near me as well. Even more fun, sometimes she’ll throw in a quick little “ow”, not because she’s hurt, but because “help” isn’t getting the desired reaction quick enough. In the meantime, I’m looking like I’m some sort of crazy person who has chosen this particular child as my target for nefarious purposes, and I’m just trying to be a good dad keeping tabs on his toddler and not wanting her to get too far away from me in a large group of people.

Look, there are certainly places where being picked up and/or having your hand held are good times to loudly proclaim “help”. And I would even go so far as to say that there are times when even parents should not be excused from consideration. Not all adults are good, and not all parents should actually have children (which is a bit of a conundrum, I know). Which is why I’m going to keep grinning and bearing it, all while trying to teach Nugget that there are appropriate and inappropriate times to use “help” and “ow”, and maybe Daddy lifting her into his arms because she’s too tired to walk any more and we’ve parked all the way on the other side of the mall isn’t the best time.

So let’s just chalk this one up to a good idea in theory, but one that’s got some ironing out to do in practice. And if that isn’t pretty much the exact job description of being a grandparent, then I don’t know what is.

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