When the portion of the program turned to women’s clothing of the time period he grumbled about how useless this information would be. I made the comment that a lot can be learned about a society by studying the accepted dress code of women during a particular time. This child looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘fashion freak.’ “EXCUSE ME? What did you just call me? Did you just call me a freak?” I took the time to point out to him that archeologists study the clothing worn during different time periods to better understand the society of that period. He merely smirked at me and looked away without apology for his remark or even a flicker of remorse for having just addressed an adult in such a manner, or any embarrassment for being called out. Later, while taking the walking tour of the house, I was headed down the stairs when he darted out from a side room and cut me off (nearly knocking into me) to get in front of me to descend the stairs. I had had enough. I remarked to him, ‘You really are a rude child.’ He walked down a couple of steps, looking back at me, and then stopped and waited while motioning for me to pass him. When I did he said to me, ‘There, do you feel better now? You’re back in your place.’ I didn’t answer him because it took every ounce of energy I had to control my desire to knock the hell out of the little shit.
This entire experience really got me thinking though. I don’t know when it happened, I’m pretty sure it was a gradual process, but I’m certain there are studies or something that have probably been done. We, as a society, are no longer polite. Folks with far larger brains than mine can probably trace back the beginning of the decline and its root causes. I just don’t care. Is that impolite of me? Well then, I fit right in! Seriously, we live in a seriously impolite society now. It is so hard to raise a polite child in an impolite world.
Let’s start with the basics. Remember these words? Please. Thank you. You’re welcome. Excuse me. I remember them fondly. They were the words of my youth, ones that were drilled into me by (God bless them) depression era parents who came from a more polite time. They are words that my husband and I have drilled into our daughter’s childhood with fervor and veracity. She is a polite child, for the most part – we aren’t done raising her yet!
Politeness goes beyond ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, of course. Politeness implies, by actual definition, an appearance of consideration and courtesy. Wow, what an idea; to be considerate of and courteous to others. We live in a very ‘me’ age. We are now all about ‘me’. How can I be happy? How can I find the real me? How can I have a better quality of life? Lots of self help books are on the market today to help guide you on your journey to an authentic you. Makes sense then that YOU think it’s all about YOU. I’m not trashing these books. I think it’s fantastic that there are so many resources available today to help a person become the best version of himself. I own a few of these such books myself and I have been enlightened and uplifted by them. One or two have actually helped me change my life. Irony ~ har.
However, I can’t help but wonder if we wouldn’t be better off if when trying to make our lives better, we start with the concept of polite. Yes, of course the ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, but are we incapable of going even deeper? Can we get down to the nitty-gritty of consideration and courtesy to others? In stopping and thinking about others first, at least some of the time, would we not create a better version of ourselves? We are so consumed with the idea that we have to do what’s right for ourselves that we forget that everyone else is a ‘me’ too. Others are about the business of pursuing their own happiness and our actions should, at the very least, do no harm to their pursuit.
I know, I know, these are BIG concepts that can’t be implemented overnight! So, in the meantime, while we all wait for a radical wake-up call to change our behaviors so that we become a little more aware that there are others around us to whom we should treat with courtesy and consideration; why don’t we just start with the same basics that my husband and I did with our daughter? So, excuse me, but please, give it some thought. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read this. Have a nice day. Oh, and, you’re welcome!