Thursday, April 21, 2011

Polite at 40,000 miles high

We have just returned from spring vacation, were we spent a few days in the cold, rainy and SNOWY mid-west. I have been storing up adventures since taking a few weeks off of writing and the napkin notes are piling up. To catch you up on how the manner training is going, I have to share my insight into the overall project at hand. After starting this blog and hoping to teach my kids a "new manner" each day, I begun to realize that it took much longer than a few hours to ingrain a behavior into my children's actions. A friend who read my blog, commented by saying, “well, this is life” meaning to her it is an everyday task on which she works. It got me thinking that perhaps my goal of refining my boys in 1 years time was not achievable. Perhaps raising polite boys will take me a lifetime or 18 years at least to achieve. Regardless of the length of time, my mission remains clear. Tame my wild boys and teach them the rules for acting well behaved in society. I didn’t realize when I wrote this what that really meant until I wrote this next section.

MANNER #8 - Look a person in the eyes and ask politely for something you need.
The Rules:
1) Look the person in the eyes before you speak.
2) Speak loud enough for the person to hear you.
3) Use polite language, such as Please and May I. Do not say, “I want.”
4) Smile friendly at the end, showing the person you respect them.

I took my lessons to the sky as we flew home, 40,000 miles above the ground. Who knows why I decided a noisy plane was a good place to enforce this rule. We had previously practiced at a few restaurants much to the annoyance of the glassed-over-eyed servers who desperately wanted to leave our table. Here it was, the moment of truth, engine noise blaring as we were, of course, seated over the wing. I instructed Henry, “look at the flight attendant and say, May I please have some apple juice.” He looked up and repeated what I had said, like a good little robot. Perhaps she didn’t hear me whisper the cues to him. Because she was surprised and delighted. She responded in her southern charm way, “Well now aren’t you the cutest, most polite little boy… May I please?” Then she looks at me approvingly, “He is so sweet.” I smile back and said, “Thank you.” But my thoughts were thinking, thank goodness you didn’t see him in the car on the way to airport burping so loud you’d think he was a 50 year old man. Or even 5 minutes ago in the cramped bathroom, where I was scrunched up in the corner, worried the waiting passengers might have heard him declare, “My penis gets larger when I fart.” No, she only saw the sweet little polite boy. And that is I guess what I aiming for. Not a stuffy boy who is not allowed to be loud and have fun at home. But boys who when in public, know how to behave, be polite, courteous and helpful. I now understand it is the face that we put forward to the world that is the one that gives people a good impression about who we are. So it is, wild-n-crazy in private, polite and respectful in public. That, I think we can do.

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