I am quite certain that I am opening up a can of worms here.
Schwick. (That's totally the sound of a pop top opening.)
But when did manners go out of style? I mean, I've heard people - mostly older - lament the lack of manners for years. I've tried, with a variety of success, to instill manners in my children. To say " yes ma'am" and " no sir", to hold the door and to avoid interrupting other people - especially adults.
I've been somewhat, moderately successful.
That is, I'm required to remind them at least once, but often that is all that is required. I definitely do not count myself an authority in this. But at least I'm trying. I need to give myself credit for that.I receive compliments on my children's PUBLIC behavior and that makes me happy - it's not a compliment for me but really for them. I see parents who don't value manners as much as I do, and although it makes me irritable - that's not the topic of this post.
When did it become A-OK for grownups to completely avoid manners when it comes to children - especially those who are not their own?
This story is 100% true. I'm not proud of the lack of manners which I exhibited.
(In our house, I have instructed the boys to hold the door for ladies. I do not care if you consider it chauvinistic or out of date or whatever. The girls have been told to hold the door as well, but if a guy is there, I expect them to take a few quick steps ahead and open the door. My husband does it. My dad did it. My husband's dad does it. I'm all for equal rights, but I have taught the door holding rule).
My son grabbed the door, and as he did, we all noticed that there was a woman, maybe in her mid 40's, getting ready to come through with a couple of bigger bags in her hands. " Guys, hold up. Let her come through." My kids - those not holding the door - backed away - and she shoved through the door as if she was a fullback. She shoved the door hard enough that it knocked my child sideways, and said not one word to him. My kids went through, and then so did I, and as loudly as I could, I said, "Thank you for holding the door for us!"
Which caused the errant shopper to turn around, shoot me a black look and let out a huff. I know because I turned to see what she'd do. Because I knew it was wrong and I knew it was rude and, God help me - I absolutely did not care.
There were other shoppers coming behind us, and my son held the door for the entire family - who all managed to thank him. When he came into the store, he asked, "Why didn't she say thank you?" to which I replied, "Sometimes adults are rude." Ouch. Not the right response, because the family behind heard and the mom said to her husband, " Didn't I say thank you? I'm sure I did."
I felt like a total ass. Which I should have, because I was. Two rudes most emphatically do not make a right.
I apologized to them, explaining that it wasn't the right thing for me to do, and that I was frustrated.
Because I am.
So, so frustrated.
This isn't the first time that this has happened. More like the 250th. Time and again, I see adults plow past kids, cut them off in conversation, ignore them when they wait to ask a question.
I fail at this. All of the time, I fail at being polite. I snap out answers and sarcastic comebacks with the best of them, and use my words as weapons, designed to draw the first blood. After all, if I hurt you first, you might not be able to hurt me.
Maybe, just maybe, part of the reason that polite children grow up to be sullen impolite teens is that their early kindness goes unappreciated. Sure, there's an age aspect to it - hormones go crazy and teens epitomize self centered - but maybe, they've learned that it doesn't matter. They've seen their parents shove past little kids and run over other people with their strollers and cut other drivers off.
There's a boundary, to be certain, when it comes to politeness. (The following is my opinion ONLY and you do not need to tell me how wrong I am.) Children should learn to wait until adults have finished talking, for a space in the conversation, instead of plowing through with their wants and needs. I often tell my kids, "You can interrupt if it contains a fire or blood or a robbery." it's a bit over the top, but I'm trying for a more broad understanding. This is the same concept that applies to walking through doors when other people are holding them - politeness makes the world go 'round.
Well, that, and money.
I'm trying to balance their need to be heard with my desire to teach them to be polite. Because the world doesn't care if their shoe has come untied or if a sister took their book. In short, I'm trying to teach my kids that the world doesn't revolve around them. That they AREN'T the most important person in the world, but one of many that must get along with as many people as possible. It's a lesson that I think has gone haywire in the past 50 years - as we've tried to transfer from the often brutal Children should be seen and not heard! to the limp wristed Everyone has a self esteem like a fragile flower and we must do our best to make everyone feel important all the ding-danged day long.
The "Everyone gets a trophy!" mindset.
And, yes, I'm aware that I sound curmudgeonly and well beyond my years.
We should all be kind. Smile. Help each other out. Be NICE, damnit.
NO one needs this lesson more than me.
I've taken to reminding my kids - Is it kind? Is it polite? Is it necessary? If not, keep it to yourself. and I find myself muttering it all the flippin' day.
This post reminded me that people can be kind. They have before, and they will as long as time is fluid. We just need to make sure that we are being as kind as we can be, and modeling that behavior for our kids.
Something at which I failed this weekend, when all I wanted to do was succeed.
Project 16/366 - We had four doctor appts today - 1 eye dr, 2 well checks and 1 orthodontist - that's what you do on your day off school 'round here.We live SUCH an exciting life. I did promise a photo a day, something that captures what we've been doing - I never said it'd be exciting. :)