Just like any doting mother who wishes their child to be on the receiving end of old ladies' approving nods and smiles (and later in life perhaps marry into royalty), I have been careful to teach Ava to always say please and thank you.
And she's very good at it – as with just about everything else in her life, she has approached this lesson with much gusto. Perhaps though, where I am concerned, just a little too much gusto.
To explain by example, Ava's feet grow (seemingly) about two centimetres a week. Unlike me, it is not a rare occurrence for her to be bought new footwear. But, in a shoe shop recently, as we got her measured for the sort of pumps she could duff up monsters with, she vocally smothered me in gratitude:
"Oh THANK you mummy! Thank you for buying me some shoes, thank you soooo much!"
I might have been imagining it, but I'm sure the woman next to us gave me the sort of sideways glance that suggested she thought I'd let my daughter walk around barefoot since she started toddling a year and a half ago. Perhaps she was seeing if I was wearing shoes myself.
In the supermarket, with both babies firmly strapped into the trolley, I went about stocking up, each item being passed through the hands of the girls who either squashed it a bit and licked it (Ruby) or commented on its colour/shape and suitability for snacking on before we got home (Ava). Of all the things that had been put in the trolley, it was a packet of crispbreads (and not even the posh ones with the pumpkin seeds) that Ava chose to gush over:
"Oh THANK you mummy! Thank you soooo much for my treat!"
Obviously she didn't understand what the box contained, but a passing father glanced at the contents of her hand and gave her a sort of sympathetic smile that was completely lost on her.
It was when we went out to a local soft play that I began to wonder whether Ava was doing it deliberately. We had been to this place before several times, but not for a while because of various other stay and play groups we'd attended. As we went in and I was paying the woman at the till, who was new and did not recognise me, Ava said:
"Oh THANK you mummy! Thank you sooo much for letting me out!"
Do you see what she did there? Not 'taking', 'letting'.
There are some odd prices we pay for our parenting. I guess my price for having a daughter who is regarded by many as a sweet and polite little girl, is being regarded myself as the sort of mother who keeps her barefoot toddler in a cupboard all day, feeding her nothing but dust or – if she's really lucky – the odd Ryvita. I can live with it, just as long as no-one calls the social.
Is your child super polite? Sometimes embarrassingly so?