When did manners disappear from our culture? Something quite small has been bothering me for a little while, but for me it’s actually quite significant. I’ve already talked about my time running up the Gherkin as part of my Gherkin Challenge, but I didn’t mention that when I was there something took me by surprise that bothered me more than it should have.
My son needed to go to the toilet so I took him up stairs in the Sterling Bar in order to use the facilities. The doors to the toilet are like saloon swing doors that lead to a foyer area where men go to the right and women go to the left. As me and my son were leaving a lady and her two daughters were about to go in. My three year old son went through the swing doors first then I held them open for the lady and her children. The first child, who looked about six or seven, went through without saying a word; the second child, who looked about eight or nine, went through engaged in conversation with her mum; then astoundingly the mum went through without looking at me and didn’t say a word as she was still talking to her daughter. My son turned to me and said, “Daddy, she didn’t say thank you, that’s not very nice is it?” No son it isn’t.
After I had finished the challenge, we went to Choccywoccydoodah and indulged in some lovely chocolatey goodness. You can’t eat there without perusing the goods in the shop and we always leave with a £10 chocolate bar of some description. By the till there is always a bowl of chocolate bites to sample and I saw person after person dip their hand in the bowl without acknowledging the lady by the till, without saying thank you, in fact without any engagement at all. I walked up and asked if she minded if I tried a little please, and she was astounded that I had been so polite. Really?
So where have all the manners gone? I have failed at so many things with my kids: if it wasn’t for my daughter’s breakfast smoothie and my son’s Crushed UK fruit snack, I’m pretty sure they would die of malnutrition; but one thing me and my missus have got spot on is their manners. They are always saying their pleases and thank yous but recently, on the odd occasion, they have started forgetting and I can see where they get it from. Friends of ours have kids of a similar age and they very rarely, if at all, say please and thank you. In fact it sounds more like a demand than anything else, and yet they get what they request, always. And it’s not just them, a lot of the kids in the playground don’t say please and thank you; many a time I’ve been approached by a child after playing some form of game with my son and daughter before school starts and they have just demanded that I do the same with them. I would be horrified if I thought my kids spoke like that to other adults, so I deliberately try to install it into them to remember their Ps and Qs.
So am I just being unreasonable? Should our kids say please and thank you, or are my standards just too high? Should the lady and her daughters have said thank you for me holding the door open for them, or was holding the door a mistake and did I offend them somehow? Why was the lady in Choccywoccydoodah so surprised by my manners and is that the new norm that I should accept?
I definitely think that manners maketh the person, and someone who doesn’t mind their Ps and Qs just sounds rude in my opinion. What are your thoughts and how do you get your kids to say please and thank you?