There’s this thing our kids do when they want something. Not the big stuff, just the little stuff. Like food, or a ride, or maybe even a sleepover. They text. But they don’t just send regular texts. They use their sweetest, nicest, cutest text voices because, let’s face it, they know their audience. We’re not even positively sure they know exactly what they’re doing. Ok, let’s be honest, they know exactly what they’re doing.
So here’s how it goes. They hit us with requests - Can you make me a snack? Can you come upstairs for a second? When is dinner ready? Can I have a ride? And these are only the texts that go on when we are inside the same house. There are plenty more when we are not ‘together’ - Can you bring me home a bagel? Can you drive us from Jon's house to Carly's house? Can you venmo me $20?
And guess what? We almost always accommodate. We think it’s because of something special they do during the ask. They use a word. One powerful yet simple, adorable yet manipulative, word. And it works. Every time. Every. Single. Time.
It’s mama. The word is mama.
It’s the you-know-you’re-being-manipulated-and-get-manipulated-anyway ‘mama’. It’s the bat-your-eyelashes-and-do-your-little-kid-voice-via-text ‘mama’. It’s genius. It’s nothing short of pure genius.
So, here are some text strings with our kids, meant to make you feel better because whether you just want to know that other people text their kids when they are all in the same house or you have a child who is skilled at manipulation as well, we are all in the same boat more often than not.
Angie and her 15 year old, Ben, last week (he’s in the basement, she’s in the family room)
B: hi mama
A: hi ben
B: I’m hungry
A: I bet. u know where the kitchen is, right?
B: yeah, but I’m also so tired
A: I bet. u know where your bedroom is, right?
B: i do
B: but could u pretty please bring me a snack?
A: I could
A: but then you’d be my boss
A: oh, wait. nvm, you are my boss
A: i’ll be right there
B: thanks, mama
Laura and her 20 year old, Will, last week (he’s away at college, she’s in the family room)
W: hi mama
L: hi will
W: can i get some extra dinero
W: to get my hairs cut
L: how much?
W: 25 large
L: why is it large?
W: love u mama
L: love you back
L: wait, but why is it large?
And then there’s the straight up ‘can i skip my guitar lesson today mama’ and/or ‘can i have people over tn mama’ and/or ‘what do we have to eat mama.’ But don’t worry if your kid didn’t get the ‘mama’ memo, or is too young (or too old) to be texting you with ‘mama’ requests, you’re probably still being manipulated! Have you driven your son and his friends from Carly's house to Jon's house? Or stopped to pick up bagels even though you have plenty of food at home? Or let your daughter have a sleepover after you said no ten times? Well then, welcome to the club.
Most of the time we don’t mind being manipulated. We let it happen with our eyes wide open. But sometimes, we like to flip the script and manipulate them right back. That apple/tree adage might have some truth to it after all. Hmmmm.
Angie and her kids
A: hi guys
A: what’s everyone up to?
A: i’m at summit bagel. want anything?
W: oh yeah, i’ll take a taylor ham egg & cheese
B: me too
A: oh, there u are
A: i’m not at summit bagel
A: but glad you’re both alive
A: i’m just home doing some algebra
A: A mom picks up 23 dirty cups from around the house
in an 8 hour period. How many kids does she have?
A: Two. She has 2 kids.
So one last thing. We aren’t touting the benefits of manipulation or even suggesting it’s a good way to parent. All we’re saying is that when they use that word ‘mama’, they’re speaking our love language. And they know it. And we love it.