Raising Lexington: Excuse Me, Where Are Your Manners?
It seems like teaching children manners has taken a back seat to almost everything but the eye rolling ends today.
I am a fun mom. Really, ask anyone. Ask my kids, my husband and my friends.
I love having fun, pushing the routine from time to time, and a good belly laugh makes my day. But when it comes down to manners, even a fun mom has to be shown a little respect.
I think it hit me when my kids started karate a few weeks ago and even Sensei Diana demanded a little respect. She would not accept "Yeah" as a child’s answer when asked a question. She requested eye contact, a calm body and a proper "Hello" and "Goodbye."
I like Sensei Diana!
Boy, those kids listened and listened happily. I decided then, and after a brief Facebook conversation I had with a few fellow moms, to renew my quest for good manners. Manners always been important to me, but somehow I had allowed them to slip a bit. Most days we are beyond "Please" and "Thank You," so I want to focus on the finer points of good manners.
Request No. 1, no more slang! I was an English major in college, and nothing bothers me more (well, that’s a stretch, but you get my point) than kids using slang before they even have the slightest grasp of the English language. Yeah, whatevs, barf, besties, ratted out, and my personal fave, "Mom, don’t get in a huffy."
They all have to go. You may ask what I’m getting in a tizzy about, but there is nothing more obnoxious than a 7-year-old talking like a Valley Girl with her hand in your face and her eyes rolling so far back in her head that you wonder if they will come back. So, from now on, every time my kids drop the slang bomb on me I will simply do what I do best: Ignore them until they speak proper English.
Request No. 2: At least try to have a conversation with an adult that goes beyond a one word answer to their question of “How are you?” I tried a little role playing with the kids and randomly went up to my 5-year-old, stuck out my right hand to shake his and said, “Hello Tommy, how are you?” Of course, he took my hand like a wet noodle, looked away and said the dreaded, “Fine.” I sighed.
Then I asked him to reverse the rolls so he could see the right way to answer someone. He noticed my firm handshake, my direct eye contact and my sharp yet kind answer of “I am well. How are you, Tommy?” Suddenly, this was easy and my daughter wanted a try. I told them to practice on dad when he came home from work, and then their grandmother, neighbor and teachers. Maybe I will do a little spot check to see if they remember our manners training session.
My final manners request, for now anyway, is to get rid of the snotty tone. This is mainly for my daring daughter, who is officially 7 going on 17.
I swear she is getting me ready for the tween and teen years with her high and mighty attitude. I found myself asking my own mother if I acted this way growing up. She confirms that I, in fact did, but always behind their backs an never to their face, like my daughter does to my husband and I.
Well sister, that all changes today. Back to the role-paying technique because I wanted so badly to believe she was talking so rudely because she didn’t know how to speak firmly without being rude. I get that when you're mad it's not all roses and sunshine, but darling daughter was about to get a lesson in tone. She was amazed I could make one sentence sound so fierce in one breathe and respectful in another. I am very good at that.
All of these manner adjustments are works in progress that need constant attention and reinforcement, but I am in for the long haul. And it’s going to be a long haul.