So as I’ve mentioned before, we’re trying to teach Arddun how to say Please and Thank You. Which has been surprisingly successful, I must say. I don’t expect a 1 year old to say much at all, which is why sign language is such a nice stand in. She’s starting to understand how to put her point across to me other than tugging at my drawstring PJs till I’m on the verge of indecent exposure. Or screaming.

I toggle between teaching Auslan and American Sign Langauge (ASL), especially when certain signs are so similar that it’d be hard for me to differentiate what Arddun’s signing. So instead of “please” in Auslan  – which looks a lot like “thank you” or a flying kiss when literally left in the hands of a 1 year old – I’ve chosen “please” in ASL.

(She said thank you off camera, after 2 bites. We’re still working on it.)

Bizarrely, she’ll sign “please”, but say Kang Koo. Which is Thank You. Which is where this blog post really begins.

The great thing about her newfound manners is that she sometimes uses them unprompted. After each dose of antibiotics administered through a syringe – hardly fun stuff – she’d solemnly say “Kaaaaang koo”. She kang koos you when you hand her the water bottle. She kang koos you when she hands you her prized baseball bat.

And she kang koos you when she makes off with forbidden items.

Remote controls
Temptus electronicus

Yes. In her small but mighty brain, she has somehow uncovered the public service principle of asking for forgiveness rather than permission. And like a consummate salesperson, she assumes a close of sale by thanking you upfront for the privilege of playing with your keys, your mobile, your cordless phone, your remote controls, and anything else you’d expressedly forbidden the last 12 months.

For instance, I’d enter the living room to find her walking around nonchalantly with my handbag like a professional flower girl, leaving a trail of its contents in her toddling wake. But then as soon as she sees me, she’ll speedily toddle over (“Kang koo! Kang koo!”), while proffering her newfound stash of contraband as if to say, “See what I’ve been keeping safe for you? I wasn’t playing with it!” And we’re not taken in by that charade one itty bit. But it’s pretty darn funny.

Still, a rule is a rule. And the handbag and the keys and remote controls and cordless phones and mobile are still off limits. Or so we’d like her to learn.

This morning, I was in the bathroom when I realised that the house was suddenly too quiet. (You know what I’m talking about.) And then I hear it – the sound of hard plastic tapping lightly together. Which, in our home, could only mean that the one-year-old is trying to nick off with as many remote controls as she can gather in her stubby baby bandit arms.

I enter the living room without a sound, and then boom behind her, “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING, LITTLE GIRL?”

She literally jumps and all three remote controls clatter to the ground. She picks one up (the Universal Remote – one remote to rule them all!) and runs over as fast as her guilty baby legs can carry her.


“I told you not to touch the remotes!”


She deposits the offending item at my feet quicksmart, and then runs off in a completely different direction to the scene of her crime and feigns sudden interest in shoe boxes.

And it takes quite a bit of effort not to laugh. God help me.