After reading a bit on Netmums (or rather the comments ON the bit on Netmums) I felt ready to come out of my rant hiatus and talk about something that actually really bloody bothers me and has done since before I had kids (you know, back when I was a lot more confident in my stance on these things)
Netmums were talking manners. Please, Thank you, Excuse me, Sorry… and whatever other words we’re now using to judge a child’s character.
It seems we’re pretty hot on them as it goes. People got heated.
I really do understand the importance of being thankful and I know showing people we are appreciative or remorseful is really important.
I know I want my children to grow up to be kind people. I really believe they will be, it’s looking promising so far.
I refuse, however, to have their childhood peppered by ‘What do you say?..’ and prompts from me when I think their manners are less than on point.
For the most part my children say thank you and they have learnt that from me and countless other people who during their lives have shown them manners.
Sometimes they don’t, they skip the please and they leave the thank you’s. If they’re excited or overwhelmed or shy and I won’t correct them.
Because they are human and sometimes I forget my manners. Me, an adult.
And I’m not an arsehole. Sometimes I’m flustered or trying to do 4 different things at the same time.
Just today I realized I asked my friend for an address and when she sent it I never replied, I copied it down and quickly went on to do something else. I just forgot. Do I cherish my friend? Yes! Am I thankful she sent it to me? Of course I am.
My manners, like everybody else’s, can be less than perfect sometimes but I’m not a bad person.
I’m actually a very kind person and I appreciate everybody, whether those two words escape out of my mouth like a knee jerk or not.
Same goes for my kids. Their manners can be dreadful. I’ve cringed with the best of them when they’ve quickly grabbed a party bag and not said thank you or replied with a flat ‘orange juice’ when asked for their preference by a friend but I will not prompt them. I will not belittle them and humiliate them in front of an audience by pointing out their less than courteous behaviour.
When I’m dealing with strangers especially I know I prefer my children to use their manners.
Even if they only know us for 3 minutes of our lives when my kids say thank you (without prompting!) they surely know then I am raising first class citizens of the future and I get to smugly walk away safe in the knowledge they never heard my 4 year old shout ‘I said coco pops not cheerios poo head!’ that morning.
But I won’t put them in a situation they are unfamiliar with, may be struggling with and expect them to perform on command.
No I won’t.
When I was a little girl I was painfully shy and responding when my name was called on the school register was terrifying. I would work myself up as the names were called and my name got closer.
What if I said it too quiet? Or burped? Or my voice sounded funny? What if everyone laughed? What if someone looked at me? What if the teacher didn’t hear and I had to say it again, this time while his eyes searched the room? What then?!
So even though my children don’t possess an ounce of my shyness I leave it, because actually I have no idea what they’re dealing with. I know I never once told my Mum how much it scared me to speak to other people.
Just like the kids I meet, we meet, every day. Just like the adults, I don’t know if they’re shy, excited, scared, stressed or overwhelmed.
I’ve got no idea what they’re going through, any of them.
Sometimes its none of the above and my kids are just arseholes, they’ll refuse to use their manners just because they can.
And that’s Ok with me because I’m here for the times they get it right and the times they fall short.
I’m almost positive they’ll thank me later.