One of the most amazing parts of parenting is watching your baby go from babbling incoherently to actually communicating. Today, for example, Annie was heading out the door with Heather when she turned around and said, “Daddy. You come too!” When I told her I would be staying behind she said, “No, Daddy. You come too. Come on. Let’s go!” I couldn’t help but laugh – it was the kind of conversation I’d imagined having with a much older kid, but here I was having it with my two year old. As cool as it is to hear Annie talk though, it isn’t without its drawbacks. What do you do when your kid says something you don’t like?
Among Annie’s adorable statements like “I love you, Dadda” and “Dadda, want to dance?” is a single word statement that is driving me nuts: “Help!” I don’t know when or where she picked it up, but she is milking it for all it worth.
“HELP, DADA!!!!” I will hear her tiny voice scream from the other room. “HELP!!!”
I leap up from whatever I’m doing and sprint to her side only to find her jutting her sippy cup at me.
“More milk, Dada?”
This, as you can imagine, is not cute. After a month of this I now just sigh and stroll over to see what is up, but that is not good. What if she’s actually in jeopardy and I’m taking my sweet time getting to her because she has “cried wolf” so many times?
I finally lost it and sternly told her that yelling “help” is not funny, and that it is a very serious word. Of course she just giggled over the fact she was getting a reaction out of me.
Someone told me not to worry, that she will learn her lesson one day when she needs help and everyone is slow respond, but that hardly put me at ease. In fact, that is, um, THE LAST THING I want to happen. I want people to help her when she yells help.
Another bit of advice I received is to yell “Stop!” whenever she misuses the word, but that didn’t sit right with me either. Would it condition her to freeze up and not ask for “help” when she really needs it?
Ideally I would like to find some way to teach her the gravity of the word “help” and how it is to only be used when you are in trouble, but at her age it seems like that might be a conversation a bit beyond her understanding.
Is there anything I can do? Or will I be stuck running around after the girl who cried help until she is old enough to know better?