Yesterday, I was reading a blog post (I can't find it today, so if you read it, too, can you let me know where so I can link to it). She asked her kids, which sounds nicer, "Would please take out the trash?" or "Take out the trash." She just knew they would say the first. But, her son explained that with the question, he took it as an option, with the second he knew it was a command and that he was required to do it. The second was far less confusing to him.
I showed it to Aaron and we discussed whether kids could really think that way. Did they really not understand when I asked them to do something? Could they really not see through the politeness to the order underneath? We just couldn't believe it.
I went on with my day, completely forgetting what I had read. In the evening, I kindly asked Josiah if he would please take out the recycling. I was a little taken back when he looked directly at me and said, "No."
I then told him to take the recycling out. He began complaining, "But, you just asked me if I wanted to, and I told you 'no'. Now, you're making me, anyway?" It was at that point I remembered the blog post. I couldn't believe that it was true! He really hadn't understood the first time I asked at all. I guess from now on I need to eschew politeness with my children! They truly do not understand it.