Children's Etiquette

One thing my Mother taught me when I was growing up was manners. She taught me (and my brothers) to be especially respectful of authority (a subject for another blog or multiple blogs) and adults. 

She taught me when an adult like my great aunt Grace (her aunt) addressed me I would acknowledge her and say "Thank you."  My Mother especially stressed the "Thank you" part.

One thing I've notice since I've been an adult is that lesson apparently isn't being taught by many adults. In fact, I do not remember once instance in my adult life when I've been introduced to a child or introduced myself that they acknowledged me by using their vocal chords or even made eye contact with me.  Occasionally I have mentioned, in a light hearted way of course God forbid I would criticize anyone parenting, to the adult the apparent rudeness of their child towards me. This also includes my many nieces and nephews (twenty four at last count) who have never acknowledged "Uncle Ronnie".  The excuse the parent gives "Oh, he's (she's) shy."  Okay, I can understand that, I was very shy when I was a toddler up and to including when I was a teenager.  I didn't lose my shyness until I was in the Army for three years. That experience will erase shyness one would have, believe me. Again, a subject for another blog. I remember one such occasion with my grand-niece Lindsay.  She was about ten years old, visiting my Mother with her father my nephew. She heard I was coming in the back door so she ran out of the front door. WHAT?  My Mother said "Oh she's shy Ronnie."  I think Lindsay is about 28 years old now. I've never had a conversation with her.  One would thing I would because we're both gay, but no. She's a Facebook friend but no conversation. But then again, lesbians are another whole story, making a point of their disdain for men, uncles or otherwise.

So what brought about all this whining from me today?  Earlier this evening I took two magazines over to my neighbor who has two little girls, aged about six and ten.  We have lived next door for thirteen years.  I've taken pictures of my neighbor (who is a school teacher) and her little girls on occasion. I collect their mail when they're on vacation. I've even supplied food during a rainstorm because the weather was too bad for mom to go out and get something to eat for her little girls. I'm consider myself a good neighbor and I'm glad I have them for neighbors because they keep a clean and neat place and the girls aren't Screamers (thank God, most little girls are Screamers which I can attest personally during our twenty-five year stay in our Pennsylvania home). 

The magazines I took over are family magazines that are of no use to me. I asked my neighbor if she would like it when I got the first magazine last month. She liked it. So when I saw their van drive up from my home office window here I gathered up my magazines and went outside to intercept her before they went into their house. For the first time I came within three feet of the ten year old.  I said "Hi Rylie!" She didn't even look at me, but just continued to take her backpack out of their van. I said again "Oh you must be Rylie".  She turned her back to me and walked into their garage. The other daughter already had made her escape through the garage. 

I walked up to the Mom and gave her the magazines. She thanked me (she's always so nice and friendly to me) and I walked away from them feeling like the creepy ugly old man neighbor. Perhaps I am being too sensitive. But perhaps not. 

I have to admit I was hurt. It's not often I get my feelings hurt.  In my seventy-seven years I've developed a pretty thick skin but every now and then someone pierces that thick skin.  Today was such a day.  But as my friend Pat often tells me, these are "First world problems."  There is a lot worse going in the world today other than the rudeness of children.  And please, don't anyone tell me "She's probably shy."  It doesn't hurt to at least acknowledge someone when they speak to you.  Ignoring them and just turning your back and walking away is not acceptable.  I don't care how good your marks are in school and how many times you appear in the local newspaper as a winning athlete, learning basic etiquette is part of growing up. I'm so thankful my Mother taught me how to be respectful to others. 

Thank you Mom.


It is not shyness keeping a child from acknowledging you for years. Trust me.
krayolakris said…
I get the same reaction from certain members of my family. He/she is shy doesn’t work for me. Argggh.
angie said…
I’m not excusing this behavior but it’s pretty typical of today’s children. I teach 5 year olds and spend much of my day teaching social skills along with academics. Most of their parents are educated professionals and make excuses for their actions. But if they think their child has been slighted or injured, they act like it’s the end of the world.
Ron said…
You are exactly right. Both my neighbors are professional (she a teacher and he a physicians' assistant).Both very nice people. They're good neighbors and always kind to me even though they are very busy. She teaches school during the day and he works twelve hour shifts, four days a week, 6 pm to 6 am. Maybe they're too busy to teach their kids basic manners. You're also right that this behavior is pretty typical. I work part-time at a hotel and when I check in guests with children I always acknowledge the children. In thirteen years I remember ONCE that the child looked me in the eye and said "Hello". All the other times the child ignores my greeting with either a vacant "who are you stare" or looks away. Even the children of my co-workers have behaved this way, some being just outright brats. I often had to fill in for some of my co-workers with children because they had to take time off for their child for various reasons. One co-worker had a particular spoiled brat (he would come in and make a wreck of the place) of often asked me to work for her so she could take her little darling somewhere often with short notice. One time I agreed to drop everything and come in for her so she could take her kid with her to her sister's baby shower. I said I would do it but I would appreciate a "thank you" from her ten year old. Next time he came in, running around the place, slamming doors and generally making a pain out of himself I jokingly said "Did Jeremiah come in to thank me?" She said "Oh! Jeremiah can you thank Mr. Tipton? He stopped his ADT activity and turned around to actually look up at me with a vacant stare like I just stepped off a spaceship and said "Huh?" His mother said said "Say'thank you' to Mr. Tipton." He took a few seconds to process that interruption in his disruptive behavior and said "Oh yeah, thanks: then he quickly returned to his rambunctious behavior.
I don't hate kids. I blame the parents. After all, isn't that the parent's responsibility to teach their children? I'm glad I had the Mother I had because she taught us well. Good manners have done me well throughout my life. Thanks for your comment
Ron said…
I have the same thing in my family (my brothers' chidlren). Disappointing.
Ron said…
Practical Parsimony,
I don't think shyness is the reason either. I don't think they know what manners are. Poor parenting.
VRC-Do You! said…
Bullshit! We are adults here. It is just poor parenting. I was raised, like you, to be respectful of those older than me. I was not a shy, shy kid but I do recall times when my parents would have friends over and us 5 kids had to do the introduction thing. Nothing like sitting the Gettysburg Address, but a quick hello and tell of our names. That's it. Quick, bam and we are done. It is my belief that kids today are raised in a whole new world. Many hide behind social media and have no idea how to navigate threw the world of social interactions. We have parents who have their lawyers on speed-dial if their kid is offended in the slightest ways, parents calling teachers at college because of grades, and even parents calling or at job interviews with prospective employers. I was born in 1957. I would have respectively brought up the slight with your neighbor. If it was an adult, and I was in a mood, I would have said something. Trust me, I have had people look me dead in the eyes and say nothing when I have met their gaze and said hello. I was taught when someone looks at you, you say Hi. I am not expecting to exchange recipes but a least say something or grunt. I could go on for days. Have a great rest of the week. Give Bill and hug for me.
Ron said…
VRC-Do You!
It is a different environment for raising kids nowadays. I don't think my neighbors spoil their kids, I just think they don't have time to teach them basic manners because both parents work so much. But I know other parents who are like the one you mentioned. My former co-worker took a trip to the Army post where her son was taking basic training to complain to the sergeant how he was treating her son. Yes, this was the same co-worker who brought her totally spoiled ten year old brat to work who busied himself slamming doors and making a general nuisance of himself for attention. I couldn't believe she actually took a trip half way across the country. Hey, I was in Army basic training. Guess what? Army recruits get abused. They call you names. They overwork you. They humiliate you. It is called "basic training" after all. The idea is to train the recruit to take orders, Of course her son was kicked out of the Army. Big surprise. When Mommy arrives to complain about the "shitty treatment" her darling little baby was receiving. Yes, this is today's world for some parents. Was I abused in my Army basic training. YES! Big time. I never once thought of complaining to my parents. Are you kidding? I got through it. And I'm a better person for the experience. Her kid? Just drifting now last I heard.
VRC-Do You! said…
I will add the mother driving halfway cross country to her Army basic training to my repertoire. I am surprised they did not laugh her off the post.

I was in the Air Force. I was 27 when I went in. Yea, they yelled at you, make you do weird stuff... I was called into the sergeant's office one day and he was yelling at me telling me that there was a mistake on my paperwork and to verify my birthdate. I told him and he was surprised. He stated that I was older than him. From that point on he never bothered me. He would get into my face, yell, and then wink. We knew it was all a game. I had kids crying at my bedside at night because they missed their mothers, girlfriends, wives... I rolled my eyes and listened. By this time I had lived on my was for about 8 years. Please, come at me with something I cared about.

Yea, I am afraid that the future of our country is a little soft. I do believe in compulsory military training. When I was stationed in Germany our fellow soldiers-German-it was mandatory-2 years. Builds character. It provides a sense of direction. Who knows you may want to make it a career.

Have a great Friday and weekend.
Ron said…
VRC-Do You!
Thank you for sharing your experience. Very interesting. What my co-worker didn't realize was that the Army was trying to teach her son discipline. He wasn't used to having someone say "no". Of course he failed. He didn't pass the test. Basic training is designed to separate those who can from those who can't. I was going to say "separate the men from the boys" but now that there are so many women in the Army (services) that statement isn't operable.
when I graduated from high school my Mother told me they couldn't afford to send me to college. I joined the Army instead because I couldn't get a job after graduation. I wanted to get my military service out of the way. Joining the Army was the best thing that could have happened to me. For me it built my character and realization I wasn't the loser that my father drilled into me the previous eighteen years.
Thanks again for your comment!
Hae a great weekend!

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