Please. Pleas. Bargains. Questions. Hopes. Dreams. Recognition of power. “If it may please you,” means nothing more than “You have the power in this relationship. I bow to that power, and I beseech you to stop down off your throne of authority, I beg you to reach into the cesspool that is my life, I implore you to darken your flesh with the stench of my own experience, I fall on your good graces, I humbly lower my head in shame at what I am, unequal, unworthy, and I place myself at your mercy.”
Please – a simple word, with much power. With power, and authority, and tradition behind it. And it, too, it has magic. Is that not what we tell our children? “What’s the magic word?” “Say, ‘Please,’ and you can have it.” Are we teaching them that we are the authority, or that they are? Aren’t we instilling within them, by our insistence that they say “please” and “Thank you,” that anything in the world can be theirs, just for the asking? What a horrible set-up we’re putting on them. What a terrible failure of expectations they are about to receive, when they get out into the “real world”, (however that may be defined, wherever that really is, whenever that happens to show up), when they get out there and they find their selfish conceit confronted by another, who, just as selfish, just as conceited, has also grasped onto that bright, shiny, attractive thing and refuses to let go.
Now it is a struggle – of wits, of pleas, of “please” and “thank you,” a battle to see who will back down, who will surrender, whose will shall crumble under the onslaught, the greater resolve of the other, finally triumphing, when one finally gives up, gives in, lets go, says, “fine, you can have it,” and the victory dance from the other, the triumphant exultative “Yahaaa!”, the jump for joy, the enjoyment of the shiny thing, becomes a final crushing blow, eliminating any chance of future happiness, because, once and for all, the blinders that we, as well-intentioned but incredibly naive parents installed through our teaching, of “magic” words, dissolve, allowing the poor, helpless, drifting, lonely child to see the world as it truly is – cold, calculated, measured, survival not of the fittest but governed by a different law – “survival of the survivors.” Rough awakening, to be sure. And those who do wake will at least be one slight step ahead of those who don’t. They will need it. They will need all of it.