“May I please be excused?” This is what my three year-old granddaughter is being taught to say before she can leave the dinner table. Also being taught: “please” and “thank you” when appropriate. In addition she’s learning to say, “God bless you” when someone sneezes and “excuse me” for minor infractions such as burping or “tooting” (her word – not mine). Once when asked, “Anna, what are the magic words?” she responded, “Abra-cadabra?” So it’s a work in progress.
I love that her parents are teaching her manners. Deb and I taught our kids manners, too. And we tried to teach them courtesy and civility (sometimes the lessons needed repeating). The fact of the matter is that we wanted well-mannered children that would grow up and become well-mannered adults. And I think we succeeded.
But at times I’m afraid that success in learning how to be mannerly may equal failure in the overly aggressive, “me first” society in which we live. What a sad commentary. It seems that waiting your turn, holding a door (or elevator) for someone, saying “thank you” or “please”, respecting another’s personal space or privacy, or simply controlling the apparent need to “speak your mind” (even if your head is empty) has become passé.
Is the only way to “get ahead” to “jump ahead”? Must we always put ourselves first? Do we really deserve what we want regardless of who we step on or over to get to it?
I hope not.
I’m glad Anna is learning manners. And if it means she will “lose her place in line” because she is courteous or mannerly then it’s probably not a line that she would want to be in the first place.
I believe that she can be competitive and successful and smart and kind without being obnoxious, rude or boorish.
And yes Anna, thank you for asking; you may be excused!