Every parent knows the phrase that pushes his or her buttons. The child pulls it out at the least opportune moment, driving Mommy or Daddy up the wall. In our house, that phrase is, "Can I be good?"
Say a girl spills milk (as happened this very morning, as a matter of fact). Mom grumbles about it, tells the child to be more careful next time, and starts to wipe it up. Child stands there, looks at the spilled milk, and says, "Can I be good?"
Now I have to confess that this just drives me bonkers. Don't ask if you can be good, just be good! Being good is an action, not a philosophical quandry to be debated with oneself over the puddle of cow juice. But spilling milk is an accident -- asking "Can I be good?" after you've just hit your sister and made her cry is an oxymoron.
The roots of this probably spring from us asking the girls in church, "Can you be good?" after they've had to be taken out and spoken to. Still, I can legitimately ask someone else, "Can you be good?" One shouldn't have to ask oneself, "Can I be good?" Either you are being good or you aren't! Make up your mind!