What My Toddler Taught Me About Manners


My two-year old son runs up to me, pointing afar and making an annoying whining noise. 

“What? Can you use your words?” I ask. 

“Pweese” he says flashing those gorgeous blue eyes and scrunching those chubby cheeks. 

Adorable, but not helpful. I force myself to get off the couch and together we wander into the kitchen. This is where we play the game he loves, which consists of me offering a variety of snacks and him rejecting every single option until he eventually chooses the snack that was presented to him first. 

After excitedly deciding on his next feast, I hand him the snack and ask him in my best motherly voice, “What do you say?”

“You’re welcome!” He shouts with pride and excitement as he runs out of the kitchen, leaving a trail of yogurt splats behind him. I can’t help but burst into laughter. He’s on the right track. 

One minute you’re a toddler getting confused between thank you and you’re welcome and the next minute you’re a full-time working mom that forgets to actually be thankful for the act or service that a loved one, coworker, or stranger did for you.

I have been actively trying to do better and be more intentional. Whether that is holding eye-contact for a second longer (awkward but meaningful… right?!), repeating why I am thankful, or acknowledging the work that the individual had to do. 

To my husband, thank you for cleaning up the cat puke for the millionth time because its gross and I really hate doing it. To my colleague, thank you for helping me answer that customer’s question because I had no idea where to start. To the barista, thank you so much for this coffee that will keep me alive and awake today! 

I’ve noticed when I really mean it and put in the effort when I say it, people will pause for a moment surprised by the lack of automation. It is pleasant and unfortunately unexpected. 

Same goes for myself. For all of my son’s life I have never received a thank you. (Ha! Of course, he hasn’t been verbal until recently.) No “thank yous” for getting up several times a night to soothe his cries, no “thank yous” for dealing with his many blow-outs, no “thank yous” for washing the nasty cheese smell from his neck, no “thank yous” for sucking the boogers out of his nose with that weird tube contraption. But of course he is totally worth it. I could always find humor in all of it (maybe because I was so sleep deprived). But to hear my baby boy attempting to learn manners makes my heart burst into joy. I don’t NEED a thank you from him… yet. However, his confident but incorrect use of you’re welcome is perfect for now.

So you’re welcome, I mean, thank you for all the hard work YOU have been doing for your kids. Thank you for teaching them their manners, thank you for fetching them snacks, and thank you for being dependable. They might not thank you properly or ever but just know you are doing an amazing job even on those hard days. 

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Erica was raised in Stillwater, MN and never thought she would leave the Twin Cities area. However, this extroverted librarian was on the hunt for a new challenge. At the end of 2018, she convinced her high school sweetheart, their two-year old son Milo, and their three cats to move to Rochester. She has been having a wonderful time exploring the area and later sharing her treasured finds with loved ones. In her spare time, Erica is constantly binging audiobooks and podcasts, wrangling her toddler, working on sassy embroidery and trying out new recipes (but dreads the clean-up). She has decided her new life’s goal is to convince friends and family, one by one, to move to the charming city of Rochester. Follow Erica on Instagram @ericarossmn