Monday, August 3, 2009

There's Nothing Magic About Good Manners


My kids say "Thank you." They say "Yes, please." They look a person in the eye when they're speaking.

My kids write thank you notes, for crying out loud.

I know. My kids are a throwback to the Stone Age.

I'm a high school teacher. As such, I shepherd up to 150 cherubs through my classroom doors every year. I've seen behavior that would make your hair curl. But the thing that really gets my knickers in a twist is behavior not becoming of a 16-year-old.

A constant refrain in Room 215?

"What would your parents say?" Or, "If your parents knew how you behaved at school, they'd be appalled, wouldn't they?"

I repeat this refrain, oh, conservatively, about 15 times a day. Sometimes 20. It's a ready-made response to a variety of catstrophes.

Say, for instance, a stream of sticky, caramel-colored beverage snaking across one of my classroom tables, the result of a kid who's knocked over a can of Coke and just walked away, afraid of "getting in trouble."

I call this the "spill & run" defense. Kid spills Coke. Kid fears rath of Mrs. Scribe. Kid leaves mess dribbling across table.

Or what about those who scribble on The Couch? Or somehow manage to get part of a PB&J stuck under the "S" key on one of the office computers, resulting in a serially repeating sssssssssssssssssssssss?

Or the ones who are serial interrupters?

I call this condition, "teacherus interruptus."

Mrs. Scribe: "So, I think once we get the pages done, the editors..."

Kid #1: "Who's going to the cafeteria? I'm starving!"

Kid #2: "I hear Mr. Counselor is going for burritos today..."

Mrs. Scribe: "...should probably..."

Kid #1: "Cool! Will you go down there with me? I really need to get my Chipotle on!"

But the thing that ticks me off the most is those who say neither "Please" nor "Thank You."

One of my daughters' friends is afflicted with this malady. We take her to the ballpark, paying for her dinner & her ticket. We drive her down to the stadium & back home again. She says "Goodbye" to us.

That's it.

She spends the night at our house. I get up early to fetch donuts. She has a great time visiting our humble abode. We, in turn, enjoy her company. She leaves late in the morning, saying, "See ya!"

That's it.

We love her. I love my students. I know all of these kids know better. I just don't know why the lesson doesn't always carry through to everyday life.

Remember Barney & Baby Bop's mantra?

"Please & thank you. They're called the magic words."


theselfloveproject said...

i lot of work...

happy monday..

Tammy Howard said...

"if you want nice things to happen, they're the words that must be heard..."

My kids both have good reflexive manners (please and thank you) but need to be reminded about thoughtful manners (thank you notes and such). It's not easy.

Amy said...

I've been in an online class all summer, and, each time I receive a reading response back from the professor, I send a thank you reply. He responded to my response last week and said he's never had a student do that before. Baffled me. Professor hands back a paper in person, you say thank you. Why would those rules disappear online?

knit1kids4 said...

I'm with you. This past week we were at a garage sale and were offered lemonade by a young boy. I said "no thank you". As I walked away from him he said to his big brother what did she say? It seemed to confuse him as to what that meant.

Ginger said...

It may just be the area I live in, but my kids are quick with the "thank yous." I think it's to distract me from the texting..or the lighting of fires.

Ronnica said...

This bugs me too...but the kids I work with are small enough to get a talkin' to.

Fer*Cambe said...

Please continue this crusade Scribe, this is indeed v. important. Here in the city where we share all our public space with the kiddies 'home training' is pretty evident pretty fast. How about those adult men though not giving their seats up on the train to people that obviously need to sit down...

Yup still long way to go, thanks for the 150 yearly ones though! We'll do our part too.

Genny said...

I agree! And I think thank you notes are really important.

The one thing I've noticed lately too is so many people don't hold the door open for the person behind them.

teachin' said...

I'm with you on the please and thank you - ESPECIALLY thank you (the lack of please doesn't bother me as much for some reason).

When I give my kids candy or a pencil or something random, I usually give the first kid to say thank you double, at which point everyone pipes in.

Or sometimes, after I give them something, if everyone else has managed to say thank you, I stand and stare at whatever kid has just grabbed a cookie with no response, until that child suddenly realizes why I'm staring and bursts out, "Oh! Thank you!" To which I say they are welcome and move on.

I'm not sure if please and thank you are always valued in my students' homes, but they'll never go wrong saying them, so we're gonna keep on practicing till they've got it down.

Yankee Girl said...

I'm so incredibly sensitive about people who don't say please and thank you. They are so easy to say, take almost no time to say them, but I think a lot of kids just simply don't know what those words means because they have never been taught. It drives me mad.

The Blonde Duck said...

OOooooooh! The perpetual interrupter thing drives me NUTS! I just volunteered at a low-eco/ at risk-kids girls camp to teach a creative writing workshop and this one little girl interrupted me EVERY OTHER SENTENCE. All I heard was, "Miss, miss, miss, miss!"

And as far as the ungrateful lout of your child's? I would flip out. Ungrateful people/ mooches/ people with no manners really grate my nerves.

Raine said...

My babe is two and he says please and thank you. A 16 year old has no excuse.

Susie said...

I hate when kids don't use good manners. I insist that my children say please and thank you. Gratitude is missing!

Shawn said...

Oh I abhor how kids today are never polite, or even smile or say thank you----even when they are working in a store!! Its crazy!

But good on you for the thank you notes----I even have trouble with that one....

carma said...

Yep, if only all kids behaved as well as Barney & Baby Bop !

And I agree with Shawn, in fact, when a clerk doesn't say thank you, my rambunctious husband sometimes says loudly "you're welcome" -- although could that be construed as bad manners as well? ;-)

Mrs4444 said...

Wow. Haven't thought of Barney in years, but yes, I do remember those words. My kids are like yours. I barely had to work at teaching them the simple please and thank you when they were small, except that I was very clear about looking people in the eye when you thank them (and say what for) and when you apologize (and say what for). (There are NO "My bad"s in this house! Just when I am feeling slightly put out for having to run a kid somewhere or whatnot, they will say, "Mom, thanks for giving me a ride." or "Thanks for picking that up for me." Darned kids really know how to get to me! :)

Tulsi said...

It really seems like manners are rarely taught. I'm not sure if it is the age of the parents. I know my parents expected us to use "please and Thank you". My husband was taught to say Mr. and Mrs. even if it were his best friends parents. And we have a granddaughter. When my 15 year old daughter's friends go with us, they say "thank you" even if it is just a ride home. Although the one we give a ride home the most has parents who would die before they told anyone "thank you". We will walk into a store behind some kids to be hit in the head with the door. When some (usually boys) do hold open a door I make sure to smile and say "thank you" so that know I appreciate it. I am always looked at with such surprise at thanking them. We live in a town with a University so we have the college kids and High School kids. Girl's are the worst here. And they are the age as my daughter at home. I expected my daughter to write thank you notes for her high school graduation gifts, Bridal Shower gifts, wedding gifts and baby shower gifts. My son just knew to write thank you's for his graduation gifts. Store clerks seem surprised when I say thank you after a transaction. It's just sad.

Kelly said...

It's not just kids who can't say please and thank you. 90% of the adults I work with can't/ won't say it. Drives. Me. Crazy.

LadyStyx said...

Sounds like that book needs to become required reading for anyone that will be visiting.

Thank you.


Jenn @ youknow... that blog? said...

Sing it sister!!! Ohhh, do I agree with you. And I love Barney. Barney saved my teenager's life sooo many times when she was little.

The Teen has a friend just like your daughter's friend. Only I told the Teen once that if little Miss No-Manners ever wanted to see the inside of my van or house again, she'd best be learning some manners. The Teen had "the chat" with her friend, and it actually took hold!

Now if we could only teach the child table manners. Why can't people teach their children to chew with their mouths closed? I ask you, WHY?! My kids have fabulous manners, and learned to eat properly before they could string a sentence together. Eesh, it's not rocket science - it's CLASS!

Ahem. Clearly you've struck a nerve. Sorry. As you were.

Marrdy said...

This is a pet peeve of mine. Mine kids are NOT perfect but they do say please and thank you!

Bankstonvwoi said...

Those companies would then go in and build an electrical system or ports or highways, and these would basically serve just a few of the very wealthiest families in those countries. If a computer was restarted with the application open, or if the application was turned off incorrectly, It is recommended to clean up those temporary periodically to free more disk space, logically, it is able to speed up the computer in a certain degree. The Circumarual headphones have a circular or ellipsoid earpads which surround the ear from all sides. Don't hesitate to ask any questions here as well.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin