Mind Your Manners!

4759535950_7bca6684c8_z

‘What do you say?’

This was mum’s standard response whenever she gave me anything. Things were withheld from me until I said the ‘magic words’.

It was the early seventies and manners still mattered then.

Sadly, times have changed.

In the beginning they were just words, much like reciting the Lord’s Prayer at school. I said them without thinking but as I got older I began to understand the importance of the words that society required me to say.

Good manners are a code of conduct based on courtesy. When we are saying ‘Thank You’ we are showing our gratitude and respect.

People don’t have to do things for us. It is not our right to receive. However, today’s society seems think that it is their right to receive. As my wonderful MIL used to say,

Those buggers come from Havington, instead of Givington!

When I think of all the things that people have done for me over the years, ‘Thank you’ seems an inadequate response.

Note, I say what people have done for me as opposed to what people have bought me. Of course I am thankful when I am given a gift but it’s never the gift itself that I am thankful for, it’s the fact that the person has thought about me. Most precious of all is the time that people have given me because that is the best gift of all and it’s free, as are manners.

Saying thank you is a sign of respect. It shows the giver that what they have done is valued. If the receiver simply takes without acknowledging it, the giver feels that their gift (or deed) is meaningless and makes for unpleasantness.

I have watched a society change to one where manners don’t matter. I see rudeness and ignorance everyday. Examples such as when I stood aside to allow a young mother through with her pram and she walked past me without acknowledgement of any kind.

On one occasion, I said ‘You’re welcome!’ as one young mother walked past me.

This was her response..

Fuck off!

Charming, eh?

A wise young lady made the point that sometimes people might be rude because they are having a bad day and it is a good point and worth bearing in mind but usually it’s just a case of bad manners because that’s all the person knows. This is the sad reality.

I have given up my seat on buses for the elderly and pregnant. I open the door for people, regardless of gender or age. I am a courteous driver. I mute my phone in cafes. These are small actions but I have been the pregnant lady on the bus and I have been the driver stuck at a junction at the mercy of someone letting me out and I know the difference that these small courtesies can make to somebody’s day. Mobile phones? Don’t start me! That’s a whole blog post all to itself!

It seems to me that in today’s society there is a distinct manners, etiquette, politeness and courtesy malfunction!

Inconsiderate Drivers

Living opposite a school reveals ignorance and inconsideration on a daily basis by parents who drive their children to school. They selfishly (and illegally) park on the pavement so that pedestrians have to walk into the road to get past. Seemingly protecting a wing mirror takes precedence over a human’s life.

They park on the yellow zig-zag lines despite the big yellow sign that tells them not to and they have little consideration for the residents who live around the school. Unbelievably (or not) one parent actually parked in my neighbours driveway one morning but unfortunately for her – my neighbour came back. Oops!

The way I see it is that it’s only a matter of time before somebody gets hurt either by being knocked over by a car or knocked out by an angry resident.

Steampunk

5436985592_f057e4c25e_z

The younger generation seem to be too busy interacting with their mobile phones to be courteous but there is a minority movement known as Steampunk who’s core values thankfully include good manners.

At face-value, steampunk is about fashion but it’s it’s much deeper than that – it’s a way of life.

Coined by author Kevin Jeter as a way of distinguishing him and fellow sci-fi writers from the futuristic ‘cyberpunks’, steampunk mixes the technology of today with the aesthetics of the Victorian era. Undoubtedly there are many dark aspects of the Victorian era that need to remain there but good manners were an important part of that society and the steampunk movement, albeit in a small and eccentric way, is trying to bring it back. Thank God for eccentrics, I say!

My Theory

I have a theory that behind every rude child/teenager there is a parent who failed to teach them any manners.

I was taught to be courteous and in turn taught my children to be the same – even S who has social communication problems.

I’m tired of living in a society that doesn’t show respect for one another. How do we correct this though? Sarcasm either goes over people’s heads or incites an angry response like Lady Eff Off’s.

Why do we have this problem?

Studies show that the problem is mainly with 18 – 34 year old’s. Over 55’s generally exhibit better manners most likely because that they are of a generation where manners were important.

Today’s youths are generally narcissistic and self-centered. They are the me, me, me generation who couldn’t give a ferret’s fart about people who they don’t identify with. We have progressed so far with technology over the last few decades but the price is that our society has changed for the worse.

In our home, dinnertime is where we sit down as a family and ALL technology is banned and I hope that my children will carry on this tradition because one of the things that I loved about my childhood is that I had my parents full attention at the dinner table. We talked about our day and it mattered to me. The memory of their parents giving social media attention instead of them is not one I want for my future grandchildren.

I refuse to be ill mannered and though ignorance can make life unpleasant, I will continue to fly the flag for good manners and hope that it inspires others to be more polite and considerate.

Thank you for reading.

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners” ~ Laurence Stern

 

Image Credit by woodlywonderworks Via Creative Commons

Steampunk Image Credit Zyllan Fotografia Via Creative Commons

 

mumturnedmom

 

Gratitude

3828578759_d3ca7ea210

Despite our initial concerns about S starting school he has thrived and continues to do so. To date he has earned not one, but two Headmaster’s Awards! The awards, for numeracy and for sitting still, (an achievement for S), are fantastic in their own right. The added factor for me is the fact that he personally went up in assembly to receive them. My only sadness is that we were not there to witness it.

Everyday I wake up and silently thank my lucky stars for what the school is doing for our little boy. These people genuinely care about him. Being away from him for six hours a day is hard, but it comforts me to know that he is with people who love him, maybe not as we love him, but love none the less.

Little man is known in and around the school. Not a day goes by without somebody saying hello to him. Sometimes he can only manage a grunt in response but they seem to take it in their stride.

After weeks of desensitisation we are now able to walk onto the playground. S chucks his bags at me and runs along the figure of eight ‘road’ that’s painted on the floor for the bikes. He does this every day, it’s part of his routine. If for any reason we can’t do this he becomes upset – and audibly so! The older children stand there and hi-five him as he whizzes past. If anybody, (child or adult), stands on this road, therefore hindering his whizzing, he stands and stares at them until they realise and move!

Mrs C meets us every morning and she’s always smiling. It’s nearly half-term and she still hasn’t quit! Not only that but Mrs B, the reception teacher, (wears really nice tops), hasn’t been admitted into a secure unit yet! I was certain that one of them would be weaving baskets by now!

I’ll have a shed load of whatever they’re on please!

Aside from her duty of care for S, Mrs C never fails to ask how we are doing. She knows I struggle with crowded areas, and she is supportive of my need to stand back from elbow wielding yummy mummies and pushchairs galore –  I am so thankful for this, she’s an amazing lady.

Mrs C told us something this morning that melted my heart. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about all day…it’s beautiful…

She said that S fell over in the playground yesterday. It was a ‘man down’ situation, as in he lay on the ground and wouldn’t get up. So Mrs C went and lay down on the floor with him. Then the headmaster, who happened to be on the yard, also went and lay down on the floor next to him. Children carried on playing around this scene as if there was nothing unusual about it at all. After a while Mrs C said to him “Shall we go and play again?” and with that S got up and ran off to play. Situation defused!

How wonderful is that?

These days I try to focus on the positives in life. Maybe it’s an age thing or maybe losing my parents really brought it home to me that life is transient, so why waste something so precious on the stuff that doesn’t really matter. Instead of dwelling on the bad things that people say or do I try to think about the good things. I think about two teachers selflessly lying on a cold and dirty playground floor in order to comfort a child – my son.

This is the big stuff – the stuff that really matters!

I have a lump in my throat as I’m typing this… The depth of gratitude that I feel for these people is something that I struggle to express in words. No matter what the results of the ongoing assessment brings I know he’s in the right place – with the right people and that is a weight off my mind.

The other night I lay in the bath and listened to my boy’s angelic(ish) voice, singing a song of love and caring for others and I’m not ashamed to say that the tears mingled with the bubbles but they weren’t sad tears, oh no, they were the tears of a mother who has gratitude in her heart.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”~ Albert Schweitzer

Photo Credit