magic words

I realized last week that I’m currently training my children to respond to the number system. I find that any system┬áthat can get them to automatically regurgitate a┬ápolite response is surprisingly refreshing.

For instance, when I yell, “One word!” they automatically say, “Please.” Two Words is my personal favorite because there’s no substitute for “Yes Mom.”

While they like to think three words is “He did it!” it’s not. I prefer “You’re the boss.” (June usually refuses this one and regularly resonds with, “No, I’m the boss!”)

Four words is another favorite, “I’d be glad to.” This is an appropriately nice thing for kids to say any time you ask them to do anything they really don’t want to do.

Harrison has been using five words a lot lately. In fact, now that I can’t chase him he’s started doing the most unacceptable thing. Any time I ask him to do anything or say anything he doesn’t want to hear, he simply walks away from me.

Walks away? Is he really that stupid to think I’d let him get away with that for long? So yesterday I was visiting with my sister Jen and he did it to me. So I sicked her on him.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing more satisfying than listening to your sister come down on your child like some kind of avenging angel, chewing him up one side and down the other on behalf of his poor pregnant mama who can’t chase him.

And so, he walked back in, completely humbled, and all I had to do was say, “Five words.”

“I’m sorry I was rude,” he said.

Best five words, ever.


  1. This is awesome. I need to do this with the punk kids I work with.

  2. Oooh, I need to add this to my repertoire once I have the 1-2-3 Magic parenting system down! Thanks for the fabulous idea, and score one for mommies everywhere with your victory!

  3. Those 5 words are great!
    My favorite 5 words are “Here mom, have some chocolate.”
    Also, at our house three words would be “Please dear mother”

  4. annie! i always love ALL of your posts, but this one may be my most favorite of them all. =) great inspiration. do you think it’s too late to implement with a 13 year old? too late in the game?

  5. I need to bow down to you. Is there a line?

  6. Love that you sicked Jen on him:) And I can just hear my two year old niece being like June and saying, “No, I’m the boss!”

  7. I think I just might have to try that!

  8. Wait til they start saying my 46 favorite words: “Well, I’m leaving for college now. I’ve saved all the money for it myself, and my goal is to graduate early and marry a guy right after he’s passed the bar exam and paid off his student loans. See you in four years! Love you, mommy!”

    I know it’s a lot of words, but dang, they’re music to my ears. At least I imagine they are. Right now, they only use about a third of them, and not necessarily in the above order.

  9. You, my dear, are brilliant.

  10. That is SO awesome! I just LOVE it. And agree that you are brilliant!

  11. Annie! Are you still here in WA? How much longer? Can I see you? Maybe I’ll try and call…

  12. Melanie J says:

    Man, my kids thought “You have until the count of three” was bad. Wait until I start this. They’re going to hate it as much as I love it.

  13. I like this much better than my sputtering clues “ppppp” to get a “please”, and the eyebrow aerobics to get a “thank you”. 6 words: Thank you for this post, Annie.

  14. Wow, Annie! This is completely brilliant!!! Nice!