Saturday, April 4, 2009

No More Mrs. Nice Mama

That's IT. I am DONE being nice to people. Especially children.

Okay, that sounded kinda harsh. And not very motherly. Let me back up.

I am getting increasingly frustrated with other children in public. And, I am not comparing my own children to them, thinking, ooh, mine are angels and would never act like that! If anything, when I see children in public misbehaving, I shoot my children a look that says, don't even think about acting that way and if you are thinking about it you better just put that thought right into your pocket and throw it away in the next trashcan you see.

I am not referring to temper tantrums. We've all dealt with temper tantrums, and they can be ugly. They are sometimes preventable if you have a magic stash of lollipops and extra binkys and you can transport through time to get your child a 2-hour nap in just 16 minutes. I feel the temper tantrum intimately. Really I do.

The thing I'm talking about is manners. Simple, logical manners. What has happened to the children of our society?

Last weekend I took my kids to an academic contest in which Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown were competing. At the contest, there were hundreds of children present along with their parents and teachers. The "waiting area" was the auditorium where many cafeteria tables were set up and also some folding chairs arranged into rows.

When I was entering or exiting the auditorium with Baby Sally in the stroller, I needed someone to hold the door open for me. Did a single kid help me out? The dozen or so times I passed through? Not once. And so, I ended up holding the door for THEM. And, did even a SINGLE ONE say "Thank you"? Nary a one. And, the thing that burned me up further was that these kids just raced in when someone held the door for them. They never once looked to see if it was their turn to enter or exit, or if POSSIBLY someone else had been waiting to pass through the doorway and maybe they should step aside. Nope, just basically, "I'M MOVING! OUTTA MY WAY!!!"

Then today, I went to an Easter celebration put on by Texan Papa's work. There was lots of fun to be had: a bounce house, a face-painting clown, hot dogs & soda, and an Easter Egg Hunt. All sounds fun, right? Well, during the Easter egg hunt, all the kids lined up with oldest ones in back and youngest ones in front. So, Baby Sally (18 months) was with me up front. When the man yelled "GO" we trotted as quickly as we could, considering her little pudgy baby legs were only about 14 inches long, and tried over and over again to get an egg. Just one simple plastic egg. But over and over again, we'd be about to pick one up and an older kid would run up and SNATCH it up off the ground, slam-dunking it into their own basket, then racing off to add to their stash. I finally said (kinda into thin-air, hoping someone would hear me) c'mon. Let the little kids get some eggs too. Finally I picked her up and RAN to an area with some eggs. And, sure enough, by the time I set her down to let her pick up her own eggs, all the kids came scrambling up and the eggs vanished.

Where were the parents then? Why didn't even ONE of those kids' parents say, hey let the little baby have that egg! You already have 10. Just let her have that one. But no. Nary a voice. No one surrendered a single plastic egg for this little girl's first ever Easter Egg Hunt.

Maybe, just maybe, I am overreacting. Maybe kids will just be kids. But is that an acceptable excuse? Am I turning into an old curmudgeon just because I want to shout at those kids, SHOW YOUR ELDERS SOME RESPECT! When I was a kid, I would have gotten a severe talking-to if I had ever acted that way. And, I think I'm better for it now. I don't have the "Look out for number one" attitude that is so prevalent in today's competitive society. Is that what we really want our kids to grow up with? My point is this: kids naturally start out on a lot of crooked paths. Basic, instinctual thought is to place one's self first before others. But I would hope that there are parents out there who are shaping those crooked paths into straight ones. Parents who are gently guiding kids to think more in terms of "My needs are not always the most important". How can a family work if everyone thinks of themselves first? How can a business survive? How can a community live together?

Yet, I am ashamed to admit that the conclusion I have come to after these two past events is this: I am going to be very discriminating when it comes to who I'm nice to. In the past I have always told my children to be humble and to be generous when it comes to giving someone the benefit of doubt, or if we can't tell who was first in line just step aside and let the other person go first, etc. But now? I kinda feel like, if no one is teaching their kids to use manners then why is it suddenly my job to teach them and also fall victim to their rude behavior?

Yes, I know... be the role model. It's just tough when, every single day, my kids come home with new horrid behavior and I ask them, "Where did you learn that?" Their answer: "At school. From my friend." Heh, nice friends.


Lana said...

I totally agree with you!! I'm a school counselor and everyday, I'm telling kids to use their manners...sometimes I have to ask them to open the doors for me too!! I just don't understand it. But if they are around me, they are going to use or learn manners because I'm going to make sure they do.

texasholly said...

So frustrating. I see this all the time too. I am not sure what the solution is besides wringing other parents necks...can we do that?

Anonymous said...

lol @ texasholly

I'll tell ya what Mama, after events like what you described, I would've been forever known as "that mean lady". LOL

As I read, I pictured my children jumping up from their seats and fighting over who could open the door for you.

I also pictured them scrambling for eggs and putting them down directly in front of Baby Sally & then standing guard to make sure she got them. I've seen them do this at parades. To the point of almost getting into fights just to make sure the babies at the curb got as much candy as the little brats running out in front of the floats.

Jess said...

I totally agree with you!
My husband doesn't understand why I'm still trying to instill the good things in our children when everyone is being so rude. But like you said, we don't just have the 'me' attitude and even if we are being screwed over I think it will still be nice knowing our children have manners!

Noah's Mommy said...

oh...your easter party sounds like the one we went was crazy...even my husband was shocked....

Stephanie said...

How frustrating!! I absolutely see what you are saying!! Even with my 12 y/o step sister (although my Dad would SHOOT me if he knew I was saying this) but that girl gets away with murder. She is disrespectful, NEVER listens to her mom, has the worst attitude and its all about ME! Don't get me wrong, I love her, but someone needs to put that girl in line. She came home with an F and 2 C's on her report card. My Dad grounded her. From everything. Her Mom was not happy. SHe wants to make sure she still has fun because spring break is next week. WTF? HELLOO!! SHe is in the sixth grade and perfectly capable of making all A's! Anyway Im done with my rant. But seriously? I was a yes ma'am, no sir, please and thank you kid. I rarely EVER here kids say that anymore. UGH.

Ok im done. sorry.

Anonymous said...

The best thing you can do is constantly indoctrinate your own kids with the right messages. Just keep working at it so your will rise above the chaos.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

I feel your pain. I had the same thing happen at an egg hunt a few years back--I was blunt , I grasped the child's hand and said 'oh sweetie, my baby had that one first'. She dropped it and ran off.
You really can't lame the kids for the way they are acting--you do need to be trained to be polite and it's not easy.
The best thing you can do is to keep doing what you are doing: lead by example and if a kid is really out of line, gently yank them in the right direction.

Shana said...

I 100% agree with you. I went to a birthday party last night and the kids all acted the same way when it came time for pizza and cake. I want this..Gimme that...Not a thank you, please, nothing. I was pissed. We are doing the right thing by instilling these values in our kids, but man its frustrating!!!!

Cookie Crums said...

I dont think your over reacting at all. It's even worse when an adult breezes through as you're holding open a door and they dont' thank you. As for the Easter Egg Hunt, they should have split the ages up. Our church had one and there were two different areas. Not far apart....but they had a line. You want you kids to be respectful but at the same time not put up with disrespect from other punks either!

E said...

Nice people are happier and living well is the best revenge.
Manners will get you through just about anything too. You are doing right by your kids and the world

Jennifer said...

I totally agree. We do this at home, but my kids are in daycare from 7 - 5 every day. I'm so thankful that I picked a daycare where they teach manners. All the kids must say prayers before meals, they have to say, please and thank you and yes maam and no maam. I'm so glad I have that reinforcement. I just can't handle a rude kid.

Jennifer said...

Oh, and you forgot one that drives me nuts (but this may be a raised in the South kind of thing), but I can not stand it when a child calls an adult by their first name. That is not done in our house. Adults deserve respect and I better hear a Ms. or a Mr. or an Aunt or an Uncle in front of that name. Period.

Wendy said...

Yes, I got the post publish nerves! I remembered that I put the address to my blog up on facebook. As annoying as the BSIL are, I don't want to start a feud.

On the subject of your post here - I didn't reply before because it's preaching to the choir. Last night in the store I separated from hubby & our kids (who have to hold onto the cart & stay right with us) to go back for a forgotten item. I had a hard time trying to get back to them through the maze of children running completely amuck in the store! And parents seeing them run into me, over my feet, nearly knocking me over - and not saying a word. Not even looking embarrassed.

I saw a blog the other day where the lady was talking about how everything we do should be child-oriented, our society should be about making them comfortable, not the adults. I said, "pbbbttt!" and clicked away.

One time I made my grandma cry when I had to tell her to quit giving my kids 5 cookies right before dinner & cokes at bedtime. She said, "I just love to see them happy." I said, "I'm in the business of raising good adults - not grown children."

I'm not a total hard@$$. I love to play with them and wrestle and cut up as much as anyone. But there's a time & place for that, and a time & place to act civilized.

MarlyMS said...

Hi! Greetings from Fort Worth. Hope everything's well with you.

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Mommyof2girlz said...

Just stopping by to say thanks for visiting my blog today and this tread caught my eye and I couldn't stop reading :)
I am so with you SITsta and could not agree more with everything you said. My hubby and I said from day one our girls were going to be raised with manners and respect for others. These kids now a days are all about "me" and even worse the parents just let them and act as if nothing is wrong. Really? What happened to family values and common courtesy?