Posted by: Jamie Stamm | October 22, 2008

“Are you happy?”

When my younger brother Steve was a preschooler, he quickly learned that he could get just about anything he wanted with three little words: “Make me happy.”

As an example, here’s a fictional conversation that very well could have occurred in the kitchen of our childhood:

Steve: “Mommy, can I have a cookie?”

Our mom: “Not now, baby. It’s almost time for dinner.”

Steve (giving Mom a look that could melt even the coldest of hearts): “Make me happy.”

Mom (handing over the entire cookie jar): “Here, sweetie, have as many as you’d like.”

I always thought Mom was a bit of a sucker when she gave in to Steve’s manipulative ways – until now. You see, Anthony has come up with a similar tactic, but instead of using his three-word catchphrase to get things he wants, he pulls it out when he knows he’s in trouble.

As instanced tonight, when he randomly walked up and hit me on the cheek.

“No, Anthony,” I said firmly. “You can’t keep hitting people.”

His bottom lip poked out, as it often does when he’s chastised. But then he stretched up to kiss me on the same cheek he had hit – before fully unleashing the sweetness.

“Are you happy?” he asked in a sing-song voice.

I wanted to say, “No, I’m not happy. Because you don’t listen to me. And you hit. And you kick. And because you’re 2, no form of appropriate discipline seems to work with you. And that makes me angry and frustrated.”

But that’s not what I said.

Instead, I gave him a kiss in return and said, “Yes, I’m happy.”

Because there was my little boy, who thought he had made everything better with a kiss and some cuteness, looking up at me expectantly with those big blue eyes and a broad smile on his face, waiting for me to tell him that I was happy.

And I guess I was. Because even when he’s bad, I still love my son. And the love that I feel for him always makes me happy.

So, to my mom, I’d like to say that I now understand. And I guess I’m a sucker, too.


  1. Don’t tell your brother , but make me happy would still work!

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