I feel like I need to preface this with:
YES I KNOW SHE'S ONLY TWO.
Anna will not, no never, never ever say please. Unless coerced or prodded with a red-hot poker and then she will spit out a 'plissss' like a basketball leaking air.
It was killing me and I couldn't for the life of me understand it, because she will say thankyou at the drop of a hat (mostly 'aww fanks').'You're welcome' is practically a visceral reflex. You should have seen her puzzlement when in England she would say 'fanks' to my Mum and wait patiently for her to say 'you're welcome', which obviously is never going to happen in the North of England. You've just thanked me? Well so be it, but I OWE YOU NOTHING!
I couldn't work it out, because the easiest ways to learn something as a toddler are by repetition, copying or reward, right? Thankyou gets you nothing, (except a knee-jerk 'you're welcome sweetie'). If you say 'can I have some candy?'. Not bloody likely. 'Can I have some candy please', absolutely, go crazy, since you asked so nicely. You would think please would be a no-brainer because the bottom line is, it gets you stuff.
Besides, Anna is generally a really well-mannered little girl. Staggeringly so sometimes. The other week I was hunkered down on a toddler-sized picnic bench having a 'Mothers Day Brunch' at Anna's preschool. Suddenly Anna trotted off and returned with a tissue. I was just in the middle of saying 'oh I have a napkin for you love', when she turned to the smaller girl sitting next to her, gently cradled the back of her head and wiped a giant trail of snot from under her nose whilst saying 'there you go sweetie'. Obviously she put me to shame - I hadn't even noticed the little girl's snot-slug. Anna's a genuinely good kid, and a fast learner. Why wasn't she saying please?
Then my friend R. enlightened me. People don't say please anymore (and I'm not prepared to make the cultural leap here and say it's just California - I honestly had not been paying attention to this phenomenon when in England, so I don't know if it's been abandoned there either). R's point was, please gets you nothing, because not saying please very often gets you the same stuff anyway. Furthermore, kids, and since I've started paying attention, adults too, don't 'ask' for things. They command.
"I want Anna tunes"
"Sure, do you want Old MacDonald or Twinkle Twinkle"
"Dada, I need a drink"
"Sure, do you want water or juice?"
"I'll take a ham on wheat, mayo no mustard"
See what I mean?
It's amazing that since we've issued the 'must say please' rule for getting stuff that what we're actually realizing is the number of times we give her things when she doesn't say please, and the number of times we don't say it either. No wonder she wasn't picking it up, we were effectively making it redundant - R. was spot on!
I know there are bigger pre-schooler battles so fight. Not peeing on somebody else's carpet for example (sorry Jen!), but I always wanted my kid to be the polite one. It would seem I might need to lead by example?
I blame the parents.