Biscuit: Can I have some water?
Me: Yes, if you can find your manners and wait until t.rex is done nursing.
Me: "Please" alone doesn't constitute manners. I need a polite sentence.
Biscuit: Can I have some water, please?
Me: Nice manners! Thank you. Now just wait a moment for t.rex to finish.
Biscuit: CAN I HAVE SOME WATER, PLEASE? PLEASE, MAMA? PLEASE!
Me: YES. Please just BE PATIENT for a moment. It is your brother's turn to eat.
Biscuit: PLEASE! PLEASE! I WANT WATER!
Me: I know, buddy, but waiting is a part of life. Everyone has to wait. One day, you'll go to the DMV, and then you'll really learn the meaning of patience in the face of adversity and yawning boredom and jaw-dropping incompetence. For now, it's going to take only 2 minutes or so until you have 100% of my attention, and then you can have all the water you want. It's free, it's healthy, it's cool. You can drink water until it comes out your ears. BUT FOR NOW, YOU MUST WAIT A MOMENT!
Me: Yes, sweetheart?
Biscuit: GET ME WATER!
Me: NO. YOU DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO. (I pick her up into my lap, hug her.) See, buddy, I don't like yelling. I don't want to be one of those moms that yells all the time. I want to be reasonable and calm and loving and teach you gently how the world works. I know that it's hard to go from being the baby to having a new brother taking up time and attention. I know that when he's nursing, you want as much attention and love as he's obviously receiving, so you act out and shout and do anything to get me to look at you. I'm not blind, and i'm not stupid. And i'm also not going to indulge you and let you become a spoiled brat. When you yell at me, you get nothing. When you're rude, you get nothing. When you throw things at me or shout, you get nothing. These are the rules of our life together, so you need to get used to it.
Now, i'm done nursing your brother, and I can set him down, and now it's your turn. I would be happy to get you some water. And maybe a snack?
Biscuit: Mama? I want some water.
I'm fairly certain it's like a dog listening to people, waiting to hear and respond to "Shotzi", "food", or "walkies". If I had peppered my loving speech with words like "balloon", "lemonade", "cookie", and "carousel", she would have listened really well.
Speaking to a toddler is the apotheosis of fruitlessness.
Unless you mention a curse word, and then they're aaaaaallllll ears.