Saturday, March 7, 2009

Grazie, Hvala, Merci

I realize the importance of manners not simply from being a grown up raised right by my mama but because I face a young boy everday and can only encourage him to learn the lessons we describe if I am actively demonstrating those same lessons. Whoever told you tiny children are a sponges (which is everyone we know with children) was slightly misrepresenting the situation. They are more than sponges because a sponge does not repeat verbatim. Little children do.

This is an important distinction for two reasons:

1. Watch your mouth. If you have clever colloquialisms to share, consider how precious those statements will be when later chimed from the mouth of a two year old.

2. The "do as I say, not as I do" mantra for living should have become extinct when children were no longer making their own shoes. It may have worked when Father's answer for everything was "whipping" the children but it most likely won't work today.

Therefore, it is more like "Do What I Do" and whether you like it or not, it is happening in the world of little bitties. But in reality, its a great lesson for living.

Lesson: Please and Thank you.

The important lessons we have been successful in teaching our little man have been saying 'please' and 'thank you'. We have even had great success the last month with "May I have___" preceding his requests. Does this always work? Of course it does not, but we are averaging at least 50% of the time without prompting. While a certain portion of a little one's life is memorization at this age, we do think he understands the practical application of these simple phrases.

You know who does not understand them? About a thousand other people. I say please and thank you. All the time. And not in a Texas Pageant Girl kind of way either like Thank you oh thankyousomuch, no thank you, oh thank you for thanking me.

I think it is important for me to say please and thank you, even and especially, in my own home. I have gotten this drill from my own upbringing for as long as I can remember. And the handwritten thank you note? Another blog all together. (And yes, I think this lost art is still oh so important.)

Most of the people I know practice this inital modicum of decency. No one owes you a door being held open for you while you lollygag to the entrance so when you get it, show a little thankfulness. Oh, I know, I know, we should not extend niceness simply to turn around and then demand or expect recognition. (But, be honest, sometimes we do.) And, I am just saying, a little gratitude goes a long way.

So lady who left her important documents and iPhone on the bathroom counter at the office building I was in last week: Same lady I spent fifteen minutes trying to find so you didn't leave beforementioned office complex without your phone (by the way, scrub that thing, do you know what lurkes on a public bathroom counter? I YI YI). When I found you and gave you your valued belongings back, do you know what you said? Nothing. Hmmm. I tried not to be salty while I was doing my random act of kindness, but there was a touch of frown on my face when we departed one anothers company.

I have been helped thousands of times from complete strangers so I can and will help whenever I can. But when I helped unknown woman haul chairs into her office building, in my heels and suit, I noticed that you didnt take that momentary pause to say "thank you for helping me carry chairs into my building, oh person I have never seen before when my office mates clearly saw me and would not come to my rescue."

But let me not live in a glass house and scatter pebbles around:

When my mom has to call or text me to ask if I got the package of gifts she sent, that is just not nice of me. When someone sends you a gift in the mail, do you need me or Emily Post to remind you that you should acknowledge? Of course you don't. And no one should have to ping me and confirm I received that gift in the mail....that I actually got a week ago.

It requires equal lengths of time to place a call, send a text or email communicating "What a surprise, thank you!" that it requires for the gift sender to wonder and subsequently follow up to ask. People are required to say thank you for every engagement, wedding, or baby gift but these gift categories are not the Last Gift Standing Trifecta. All gifts should get a polite nod. (although if you ever did get one of these Majors and didnt say thanks...ohhhh you got some 'splainin to do. Shamity shame shame shame on you.)

Having a munchkin, we have already started to help him understand that when we receive gifts, or acts of kindness, we should be grateful. It is absolutely sweet hearing him say:

"Thank you berry berry MUCH!"

Now, since we know the real deal of parenting is actually 'Do as I Do', I have quite a bit to think about don't I?

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