I need to get it off my chest.
Are they even important?
Do people actively teach their children 'manners' any more?
Do adults mind their own manners?
Are there more important things to worry about nowadays?
Today, Barnaby and I made a trip to Warwick Castle - I'll blog on that later though - and there were a couple of incidents that left me quite speechless really.
Firstly, lets start with the school groups. There were loads of them. Not that *that* was a particular problem, no. Admittedly I questioned to myself why you'd book reception age kids (4/5) into a castle trip. They may be fascinated about princesses and Knights, of course, but there is little to excite them about a dark room containing Queen Anne's death bed... But I digress.
The bit that left me particularly irked was that these children, looking bewildered, clinging onto their 'partners' hand, holding their lunch bag in the other, were ushered in and out of each room at breakneck speed, with 'their adult' screeching at them to hurry along. So they did. Barging past and through every other person attempting to visit the room. No 'excuse me' or 'sorry' when 30 pairs of feet trampled yours... But, you forgive them because you know they are little and overwhelmed and a bit scared.
What I can't forgive though is 'their adult' who watches you stand and wait to one side while 65 people stream past you and does not even acknowledge you with a smile, let alone a 'thank you' for making their life a little easier. In every school group there were at least 6 adults. Of the maybe 40 or so adults I came across on our visit ONE said thank you when we let them pass. ONE. And she was about 60... Maybe it's a generational thing?
I was just pretty disgusted. If young impressionable kids don't see the adults setting a good example they have no blueprint to follow? A simple 'thank you' goes a long way. A 'say thank you to the lady for letting us go first' is not only appropriate, it's the right thing to do. It's teaching the children something.
(and if you're thinking that I don't realise just how tricky it is to be an adult on a school trip at Warwick Castle let me assure you that actually it was Barnabys last trip before he left school. I accompanied them, had my own group of kids, and at no point would have allowed them to not say sorry when they bashed into an unsuspecting member of the public)
We then went to a home ed specific event where a [very nice, fit, good looking too-young-for-an-old-bird-like-me] Knight spent 45 minutes showing all kinds of weaponry and talking through its uses. After which the children got to paint their own shield. It should have been a fun activity, however Barnaby ended up next to a girl who, well, is clearly used to conversations like this:
Girl: Mum, I want more blue paint.
[me: "I want doesn't get" grrrrr ]
Mum: ok darling.... And wanders off in search of more blue paint
Girl, to Barnaby: I said, I want more blue paint.
Barnaby looks totally perplexed.
Girl: I said, I want more blue paint.
And promptly take Barnabys loaded paintbrush our of his hand and carries on painting with it.
Barnaby, no idea what to do, just stands there looking at her.
Mum arrives back in time to see this and just rolls her eyes at me with a cheeky little grin and says "girls!"
It's no wonder that girl just takes what she wants, she's never been told otherwise. She gets exactly what she wants without ever being told that a please or a thank you go a long way. She's never been told it's not acceptable to take some thing of somebody elses just because she wants it. She's never been made to say sorry and mean it. Clearly manners are not a high priority for that mother because, well, 'girls' eh?
I was pretty cross.
After the session, about half the people disappeared outside. I took Barnaby to the lovely young Knight to say thank you and that we had enjoyed his talk very much. The poor sod was totally taken aback (must have been my utter beauty. Ahem.) that someone had thanked him for his time and knowledge.
Has life really got that hard for people that we can't appreciate them? Is it SO difficult to say thank you these days?
I'm not saying I'm the only parent at that session that said thank you to him, the remaining half may have done so after me, but his reaction was enough to make me think the half before me hadn't bothered. Yes, we had paid for the session, but I personally don't think that means that manners are left at the door.
Barnaby (frequently forgets and has me remind him) to ask to leave the table.
His knife and fork are always together not just dumped in the middle of his plate.
He says please.
He's pretty good with thank you.
He will always thank somebody for having him or for feeding him when we leave, prompted by me or not.
He witnesses me EVERY SINGLE DAY using manners with random strangers - thank you when they have held the door open, signalling thanks when someone has let me pull into their lane, saying good morning to the local newsagent as we pass.
To me, manners are the first stepping stone to kindness. If you practice thinking of others it becomes more natural.
To me, this is basic and fundamental in the raising of children.
If we let it slip, if we go soft on manners, people stop caring for each other and all respect is lost.
Having just had a bath, Barnaby bought me a glass of water and as he departed be said " if you want anything else Mum just give me a shout ".
I responded "thank you, love", because not only is it the polite thing to say, I genuinely mean it too.
What do you think? Am I being oversensitive? Are manners a thing of the past? Have you noticed they are becoming scarcely used or is it just me?
Please leave me a comment, I'd be interested to know.
Thanks, as always, for reading