Although I try to avoid Pinterest whenever possible, not because it’s not glorious, but because it can suck up hours of my day in the click of a mouse, I do venture on there every now and again. It’s usually when I’m drooling over the unaffordables at Joss and Main, or One King’s Lane. I have discovered that most of the decorative accents are at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby for a billion times cheaper, especially if you have a coupon or they have a sale. But that’s not what this post is about.
On a recent Pinterest voyage, I saw a wood art plaque that said, “Good Manners and Kindness Are Always In Fashion.” I firmly believe this, even when I’m in full-on bitch mode. Being from the South means I can smile politely while letting you know exactly what I think of you, bless your heart.
At a recent trip to a big-box retailer, I could find neither prices nor scanners in the toy department. Considering it was during the three day Black Friday (which now apparently spans an entire week) fiasco, toys were scattered beyond their appointed realms, and without the ever handy price tags (WHY did stores stop putting prices on things? Stockers have to touch the box anyway, so they might as well smack it with a price gun!), I had no idea what the cost was of the three odd things I found interesting. When I got to the checkout stand, I asked the cashier to scan the price for me (all of which were ridiculously expensive); as I got to the third item, she very rudely asked, “Do you want me to check the price on EVERYTHING for you?”
Wrong thing to say to a very tired person with fibromyalgia and a dislike for people who speak as though they have gum in their mouth. Very calmly, which my children know is me at my most dangerous, I explained that I couldn’t find prices or price scanners. She rolled her eyes at me, which my children know is the quickest path to my last nerve, and said there were price scanners in electronics and groceries. I politely mentioned that I wasn’t IN electronics or groceries, I was in toys (the complete opposite end of the store from the two existing scanners), and there wasn’t a scanner in toys. I then apologized for the inconvenience and suggested that perhaps a manager would be the best person to whom I should speak, which had her hastily back tracking and stammering that she was just letting me know for next time.
Aubrey always laughs when I become quietly polite. She swears that her school is still terrified of me (likely true); by her senior year, if she had a problem with the administration, she’d smile and say, “This is probably something that I should let my mother handle.” Oddly enough, I only had to deal with the administration a handful of times that year, and all had to do with sending her transcript to colleges in an expeditious manner. Those 11 small words were all it took to strike fear into the dean of students’ heart.
Both of my children’s tempers are true to their Celtic blood, with my inherent distaste for idiocy. In spite of that, they are always polite, always clean up their mess at restaurants (even the ones with bus staff), and ALWAYS say please and thank you. Matt says ma’am or sir, while Aubrey calls people Mr. or Mrs. Surname. I laugh at parents who have to remind their five year olds, “What do you say?” My kids still live in mortal fear of my raised eyebrow. They also have a subconscious terror of public restrooms. I never let them run around restaurants (after working as a waitress when I was younger, I saw too many burns resulting from tripping over a wild child); the instant they started to act up, I would gather my napkin from my lap and place it on the table, while saying, “Let’s go to the bathroom.” I certainly wouldn’t smack them in public, but I would beat their butts in a bathroom stall if necessary.
A healthy fear of the palm of my hand on their butts was only half the equation, though. The main way to teach children to be polite is to be polite TO THEM. I’m the weirdo who asks the dog to move, please. I tell the cat thank you for getting his head out of my way. I say please and thank you to anyone, no matter what age. It should be like breathing, but at the same time, it should be meaningful. I hold the door open for the person (or people) behind me. I clean up my mess at restaurants. Because my children saw me do these things, they also do them.
It’s all about the Golden Rule of parenting: do unto them what you would have your children do unto others. It really is that simple.