Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Zip Your Lip

A while back I made the unfortunate mistake of teaching Samantha the phrase, "zip your lip."  I didn't tell her to zip her lip; that would have been obnoxious.  I used the phrase as an example of something she could say to express her desire for me to be quiet.  I think I was trying to lighten the mood or something by finding a cute way for her to say it, but now the damage is done.  You see, she always wants me to shut up.  Not only does she resent it when I try to do things for her, she can't stand it when I give her instructions when she doesn't need or want them.

So she is constantly telling me:  MOMMY, WILL YOU PLEASE ZIP YOUR LIP?  As long as she uses a respectful tone of voice, I don't mind.  It's just her way of saying, I WANT YOU TO BE QUIET NOW.  When she wants to emphasize how important it is to her, she asks me to run my fingers over my lips in a zipping motion - another little gem that I wish I had never taught her.  But, alas, this is her way of controlling her world and getting too-helpful-Mommy to just butt out.  I respect that.

So, when we were at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Sam was totally into the dinosaurs.  She was fascinated.  I think it took her a while to get the idea of bones; these were the bones of the dead dinosaurs.  (We did a lot of explaining beforehand, but that's a tough concept for a 3-year-old, don't you think?)  But I do think she got some sense of it - that this was all that was left of them.  The point is, she really, really loved it.

She was being really good on this trip in general, but at one point I asked her to do something and she started to yell at me.  I told her that if she wanted to stay at the museum and see the dinosaurs, she had to speak kindly to us, or we might have to leave.  She started to yell again, but then she took her fingers and zipped her lip.  Over and over, she zipped her lip, until she was sure that she would not yell at me again.  And it worked!


  1. Amy,

    Reading this post, I had a not necessarily related idea inspired by some of your observations over time about Sam.

    You might want to do some reading on situational leadership, which is a management technique (from Hersey and Blanchard) recommending different supervisory tactics based upon a subordinate's developmental level (as determined by their competence and confidence) on a specific task.

    The lecture I attended, when I originally leaned about this idea, explained it using the training in movie "The Karate Kid" as a case study.

  2. You know, Amy, it's never okay for J to say any sort of "be quiet" unless it's clearly all in fun -- certainly not in a situation where there any hint of conflict or confrontation. He's the kid, we're the parents -- dominance games with us, unless clearly playful, are simply not acceptable.

    And this is maybe a step closer to identifying my general unease with a number of behaviors from Sammy that you've described.

  3. Jim, sorry not interested.

    Jon, probably so because I 100% disagree with the whole concept of "dominance games." Maybe we can discuss it in person.