Store Employee Enforcing Her Rules on My Child?! - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-03-2005, 06:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This was offensive to me.

I'm wondering what other mamas think about this.

Just a little background to preface with...

My son is a second child, and rather sensitive and shy by nature. He watches no TV ever and is very sheltered from mainstream living. He just started attending our local Waldorf kindergarten this past fall, only two mornings every week. Before that, he had literally never been anywhere in this world without one of his immediate family members with him. He's been happy at school, in fact, wanting to go more than two days. He's becoming more social, but I prefer to allow that aspect of him to blossom slowly, following some of the Anthroposophic philosophies. As far as teaching manners goes in our home, I do not force 'please' and 'thank you,' etc. I have taught by example, with great success, to my older child, and introduce discussions about manners only when my children are a little older, like around 6 or 7 (again, following Anthroposophic guidance).

Here's what happened:

I was in one of my local chain health food stores, Trader Joe's, with my four y/o son. When it was time to check out, he asked for a balloon, which is customary for them to hand out to children at this store.
He asked the lady, "Can I have a green balloon?"
The lady (around 26-27, I'm guessing...) then asked him, "What's the magic word?"
My son then got quiet and felt awkward. He tends to be rather shy and quiet in public. 'The magic word' is foreign to him -- we do not use that phrase in our family.
I said to him, "The lady would like you to say 'please,' can you say please?"
He started to look uncomfortable, and stared at me.
The lady went on to repeat herself several more times about 'the magic word' as she was ringing up my groceries.
Then, at the end, she said to him, "I won't give you a balloon unless you say 'please.'
At this point, it was time to go, so I said to her, "He's a little shy, I'll say *please* for him since it's time to go, and he really wants a balloon. And, just to let you know, in our family we don't force manners; we teach them by example. Thank you very much for the balloon."
She cut the balloon for him (they were tied to the checkout stand) and had a blatant pissy attitude about it.

:

My take on this is that
A) her initial request for a 'please' was ok, it was when she started insisting on it that I felt my boundaries crossed as a mother, and
B) when she became somewhat hostile at the end of the whole thing, I felt really offended

I know there are many different views on the manners issue out there. I'm just wondering how far a stranger should be allowed to take something with my child before I am justified in responding assertively.


What do you think?
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:07 PM
 
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Weird? That wasn't really her place to "make" your child say something. I would have been irritated as well, even though I do ask my son to say please and thank you. She oversteped her boundaries in my opinion.

Mom to two boys, ages 8 and 11, and one blessing due May 8th.

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Old 03-03-2005, 06:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by May May

My take on this is that
A) her initial request for a 'please' was ok, it was when she started insisting on it that I felt my boundaries crossed as a mother, and
B) when she became somewhat hostile at the end of the whole thing, I felt really offended

I know there are many different views on the manners issue out there. I'm just wondering how far a stranger should be allowed to take something with my child before I am justified in responding assertively.


What do you think?
I think your take on it is right on And...I think you handled it really well!
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:08 PM
 
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I agree with you. She crossed the line. She must have noticed how uncomfortable she was making your son, yet she continued to insist. The attitude at the end adds insult to injury. You did say please on his behalf, so why the pissy face?
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:10 PM
 
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I think you did the right thing, in telling her that. Your son is only five, and that was really obnoxious of her to act like that. I also don't like "What is the magic word?" and it isn't up to her to say that to your child.

I have a problem in general with store employees saying or doing things to me/my baby.

Also at a TJ's, my baby was in her sling and crying and I was trying to get through the checkout and the cashier wouldn't shut up about how my baby was "not liking the sling/tired/hungry" and I finally just said "please stop guessing what is wrong with her."

I had other problems with employees at Target touching my babe while she was in her sling ON THE FACE, and or trying to tell me what was wrong with her when she was crying. Drove me nuts.

Sometimes you just have to let things go, but maybe call and talk to the manager and tell him about the experience. Esp. if you shop there a lot. All children are different and if your sweet boy is shy he shouldn't be forced by a store employee to "say the magic word".
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:12 PM
 
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She should of just given up the balloon. You're there for groceries, not ettiquette lessons.
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:15 PM
 
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I place a very high level of importance on showing manners and respecting other people. My kids would have said please without being prompted, because they hear me and DH say it all the time. I would not expect them to get a balloon if they didn't ask politely and say please and thankyou. How old is he?

but I do agree, she did overstep her boundaries there, a little. Not by wanting him to say please, but by insisting upon it. You and your son hurt her feelings, and she has every right to feel the way she did about it. I think it would have been a really good chance for some constructive dialogue with your son about showing respect, using good manners, and hurting other people's feelings.
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:16 PM
 
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Tell DS that next time someone asks for the magic word, he's to say "ABRACADABRA".

Magic word. sheesh.

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Old 03-03-2005, 06:16 PM
 
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I almost forgot aboout this...

We were visiting a family friend and she asked ds if he'd like a cookie, he said yes...she asked what's the magic word...he said..abracadabra!
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:17 PM
 
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Well, I think she was wrong, and I think you handled it really well. It's pretty likely that she was looking at this from the viewpoint of a former child and not from the viewpoint of a current mom. That is, she probably has a good memory of being rewarded for "saying the magic word" and the fact that your ds didn't know what the heck she was talking about bummed her out. I'm just guessing here, but that's why a lot of people do that schtick--they get a big smile like they are going to act out the happy story of a person who really does get rewarded by magic.

It can't feel good to a child though, being asked something like that and not knowing the little trope. It's only a happy little story if everyone is on the same page.

Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:19 PM
 
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I think your take is right on - and her attitude when she was cutting the balloon for you was probably because when you said 'please' on behalf of your child so she would give you guys, the customer, the balloon, it was patently obvious how ridiculous her insistence had become! You handled it well.
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:21 PM
 
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I've been dealing with this a little myself. My MIL will ask ds if he wants to do something, or would like something and he'll say yes. Then she'll say, "YEs," and stick out her chin, wishing to pull out the word MAM. I really dislike that word... it irks me. She does the magic word thing and tries to make him say you're welcome. I don't get this whole manners thing. If he says you're welcome, she almost explodes...nothing makes her happier. WHat is up with this stuff!!!! I think it's a Southern thing here and I'm not up for the whole Southern graces thing.
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:21 PM
 
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I hate that phrase "magic word" like it instills some kind of mystical magical reaction! She shouldn't have said anything but "yes you may" since he asked in a nice way. Please isn't necessary imo. Yes I try to encourage please but I over all try to encourage politeness and saying "can I have a balloon" in a polite tone is all that is neccessary.
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:28 PM
 
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I think it was weird that she was so insistant.

Personally, I would have let her keep her balloon and bought one from somewhere else if my son still wanted one. I'm just bitchy like that, though.

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Old 03-03-2005, 06:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stafl
I place a very high level of importance on showing manners and respecting other people. My kids would have said please without being prompted, because they hear me and DH say it all the time. I would not expect them to get a balloon if they didn't ask politely and say please and thankyou. How old is he?

but I do agree, she did overstep her boundaries there, a little. Not by wanting him to say please, but by insisting upon it. You and your son hurt her feelings, and she has every right to feel the way she did about it. I think it would have been a really good chance for some constructive dialogue with your son about showing respect, using good manners, and hurting other people's feelings.

.

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Old 03-03-2005, 06:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stafl
I place a very high level of importance on showing manners and respecting other people. My kids would have said please without being prompted, because they hear me and DH say it all the time. I would not expect them to get a balloon if they didn't ask politely and say please and thankyou. How old is he?

but I do agree, she did overstep her boundaries there, a little. Not by wanting him to say please, but by insisting upon it. You and your son hurt her feelings, and she has every right to feel the way she did about it. I think it would have been a really good chance for some constructive dialogue with your son about showing respect, using good manners, and hurting other people's feelings.
Another from me. Very well put, stafl.
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:59 PM
 
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I am adament about using "please" and "thank you" in converation with my child. It's important to me for her to not only see manners by example, but hear them as well.

However, the cashier was extremely irritating in her insistance of your son "saying the magic word." It is not her job to be the Manners Police, or make a big deal out of it.

It's not like your son said, "Give me a green balloon, *&^%#!!!!"

I commend you on the way you handled that situation. You are definitely doing a wonderful job in all aspects relative to learning by example because you really should've told that lady to GET BENT!

Oh, excuse me. Get BENT, please. :LOL ( I guess it's best to be proper when telling the likes of her off! )

There are few things worse than someone trying to force their personal agenda on someone else.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stafl
You and your son hurt her feelings, and she has every right to feel the way she did about it. I think it would have been a really good chance for some constructive dialogue with your son about showing respect, using good manners, and hurting other people's feelings.
Wow, hurt her feelings? I can see where the cashier hurt the little boy's feelings, but where in the story do you see the OP and her son being anything but polite? Sure, he was shy, and his mommy explained that and said please for him (since that seemed to be so important to the cashier).

IMHO, if you get your feelings hurt because a child is shy that's something YOU have to work on. Let the mother worry about her child's education in social graces.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:03 PM
 
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You and your son hurt her feelings, and she has every right to feel the way she did about it.
Oh, come on! Is she going to run into the back room and cry because a little, shy boy didn't say please and thank you? If she's that sensitive, she shouldn't be working in a customer service setting.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:15 PM
 
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I don't push saying please. I do remind to her ask nicely (instead of demanding something) but that's all I ask.

That woman was totally out of line, and I would have been upset. You handled it nicely though.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:18 PM
 
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A friend of mine told my dd the "magic word" was "suckit!!"



I think you handled it very well and reacted in a completely acceptable manner. She was upsetting your son and it is only right that you would stand up for him. I am sure your son will remember that.

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Old 03-03-2005, 07:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stafl
I place a very high level of importance on showing manners and respecting other people. My kids would have said please without being prompted, because they hear me and DH say it all the time. I would not expect them to get a balloon if they didn't ask politely and say please and thankyou. How old is he?

but I do agree, she did overstep her boundaries there, a little. Not by wanting him to say please, but by insisting upon it. You and your son hurt her feelings, and she has every right to feel the way she did about it. I think it would have been a really good chance for some constructive dialogue with your son about showing respect, using good manners, and hurting other people's feelings.
Exactly what I was going to say. Completely.

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Old 03-03-2005, 07:21 PM
 
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I think you handled it really well, May May.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by chersolly
Oh, come on! Is she going to run into the back room and cry because a little, shy boy didn't say please and thank you? If she's that sensitive, she shouldn't be working in a customer service setting.
Okay people, relax. It's a matter of degrees. Maybe "hurt feelings" was the wrong wording but the meaning was correct. You could also say offended, slighted, put off, disrespected or whatever the heck.
The point is it's a socially accepted polite institution to say please and thankyou when asking for something. Even more so when asking for something for free.

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Old 03-03-2005, 07:32 PM
 
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The point is it's a socially accepted polite institution to say please and thankyou when asking for something. Even more so when asking for something for free.
nak

it should also be socialy acceptable to understand that little kids are still learning and growing, and that we should all cut them some slack in requiring adult manners from them

this is a pet peeve of mine. ds1 is very polite - says please, thank you, you're welcome, i'm sorry, etc. but sometimes he's nervous or shy or overwhelmed or distracted, and doesn't say it. he's still a very nce, polite kid. he was also a late talker, and i would have strangers offer him something and then say "aren't you going to say thank you?" even after i said thank you. he would feel so embarassed that he would often hand it back.

i think some adults really need to get over themselves. You handled the situation much like I would have. The only difference is that I make a conscious effort not to say anything like "he's shy" or "he can't talk yet" or whatever, because I feel like it would make my son feel embarassed. But maybe that's just us.

Quote:
A friend of mine told my dd the "magic word" was "suckit!!"
Okay, that's rude, but it cracked me up!
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:34 PM
 
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I think you handled it well, and were right to be offended.

I am pretty big on "manners", but I don't think young children should have them forced on them. And, IMO, politeness is as much conveyed in tone of voice and attitude as it is in any word that a child is taught to parrot. As they get older it can be explained that using good manners, and certain words make people feel good.

And the phrase "magic word" drives me NUTS!!! It makes kids think that saying "Please" will get them anything they want ("but I said PLE-EAASE!"), which it won't. It's very confusing for kids.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:40 PM
 
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I can't believe that petty lady who wouldn't give your child a ballon without hearing "please".







oh. and a little , but i had to say something.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by May May
My take on this is that
A) her initial request for a 'please' was ok, it was when she started insisting on it that I felt my boundaries crossed as a mother, and
B) when she became somewhat hostile at the end of the whole thing, I felt really offended.
I agree with you, and I think you handled it very well.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jenoline
I think you handled it well, and were right to be offended.

I am pretty big on "manners", but I don't think young children should have them forced on them. And, IMO, politeness is as much conveyed in tone of voice and attitude as it is in any word that a child is taught to parrot. As they get older it can be explained that using good manners, and certain words make people feel good.

And the phrase "magic word" drives me NUTS!!! It makes kids think that saying "Please" will get them anything they want ("but I said PLE-EAASE!"), which it won't. It's very confusing for kids.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:51 PM
 
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Exactly my take. Please doesn't always get you what you want and children need to understand that. That phrase of "What's the magic word" implies that, if you do say please, you CAN have a nuclear bomb (hello GWB!) :. Just a wee pet peeve of mine.

I do however, expect my children to say please and thank you, and teach it by modelling as well as prompting. However, if a child was shy and couldn't say please to a stranger due to that shyness, well, I would never push it. Respecting children as people with wants and needs like everyone else is paramount in my book. The cashier's attitude that children are public property is just unacceptable and she should be taught as much.
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