Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Manners - A Treasured Gift

Jillsy Girl started a blogging exercise not long ago called Prompt Me Wednesday.

This week we have been prompted to express (not limited to writing) ourselves on a treasured gift. I am offering up a story that explains the gift of manners and respect I received from my Mom (I should give Dad some credit too but his lessons were often loud and blunt so it wasn't always clear if there was some deeper meaning.)

Before I drop you into the story (actually being dropped isn't nice - hmm maybe I should ease you into the story) I must state that I've been told on occasion that I was being rude. So I have failed at manners. I'm no manners expert but I do respect people and try not to fail.

Summer 2005 - AA 2325 flight Chicago – Dallas Fort Worth – final destination Long Beach CA.

As I work my way through another business trip which always has the potential of a small adventure, I decide to capture some thoughts of the trip. Since I was able to plan this trip, I selected a midday flight. I am not a morning person.

As I suspect many travelers do, I judge a trip by the number of hassles encountered getting from A to B. So far it’s not been too bad. Plenty of backed-up traffic on I-294 and a filled up airport parking lot, but I anticipated that and allowed myself plenty of time. I got through security and even had time for a salad at Chili’s airport restaurant. Eating alone at an airport restaurant seems more accepted than eating alone most anywhere else.

Row 25

My seat is in row 24, but in 25 is a young family. As I approach my seat I hear screaming and yelling. Two little girls with mom and dad are threatening my chance of a peaceful flight. The youngest and loudest one wants to play with her tray and doesn’t seem fazed by her mother’s threats. One interesting threat heard that day was “they have special seat in the back for children who misbehave.” She might as well told her they would strap her on the wing, she didn’t care. Mom and Dad need to get some training from TV’s super nanny.

Luckily I came prepared with a laptop filled with music. With all the electronic gadgets available hopefully other passengers were able to entertain themselves instead of listen to these unruly kids. The row 25 family had a DVD player for the kids. The three year-old I hear (all nearby passengers also discover this within seconds) does not want to share the view of the screen with her sister.

We have landed and there is hope of escape from row 25.

As we were waiting to deplane the kids were behind me in the crowded aisle. In this tight space bumping one another is common. So it didn’t surprise me that one of the girls bumped me a few times. It was not a big deal. What did surprise me was the mother’s response. She told her daughter that if she kept it up she would let the man (me) smack her. What a crazy thing to say. I later wondered if it was a ploy to sue me if I took her up on the offer.

My wife and I traveled with all of our five kids on a trip to Ireland in 1989.   We packed ourselves into a small version of what might be called a minivan today.  Great sites were seen.  But I was reminded that young kids don't appreciate the fine differences between second and third castle of the weekend.

The hero (my wife) did the return trip with just the kids (I really had to stay - really for work). I don’t recall any crying or fussing from our kids on our long ride over the Atlantic. Maybe I just don’t remember but I think the kids were excited enough about the trip that they just enjoyed the experience.

Back in 1989, none of them even had CD players yet. The boom box was still popular (tape and radio) but those were not allowed in the aircraft cabin. The youngest was not 4 yet and the next oldest had just turned 9. They brought books and colored. Being an overseas flight we had music and some movies provided. But the movies shown on screens for the whole cabin don’t provide much to a little kid that could hardly see over the seatbacks.

Return trip

Long Beach airport – a new favorite for me. A fellow traveler pointed out as we walked across the tarmac, Long Beach airport is probably the only airport in the US with no Starbucks. Starbucks has covered the west coast very completely. The airport did have a coffee/snack stand.

Free Wi-Fi at the gate in this small airport!!

For comparison to the early family there was family with two (maybe three – I don’t remember) young boys waiting to board the flight to Dallas. The youngest appeared to be about the same age as the young girl in row 25. They were probably closer in age than the row 25 set. The youngest boy came running through the gate area when his dad pointed out the plane. I think he was ready to run outside and jump on-board. Dad called to him to stop and he did. Unlike row 25 family, no yelling or threats were exchanged. Instead the dad seemed interested in answering his young son’s many questions. The difference in the parents’ attitudes of these families influenced the behavior of the kids. The Long Beach Dad appeared interested in making the most of what a trip can be for a young kid – a learning experience.

I'm no expert on teaching manners or discipline, but nonsensical threats only backfire. Kids learn quickly that threats are not backed by anything. You lose control at that point.

Change is constant with the technology in our daily lives. I wonder if the gadgets are used unsuccessfully to bribe kids. Disciplined kids however, I suspect come from techniques practiced since the beginning of families.

Share a smile - and thanks Mom, I think I get it now.


joaniemack said...

Wow! Those 2 families were polar opposites!

lisleman said...

polar as in bi-polar might be a good word selection for the one - but I'm just being mean now. Parenting is not easy and I wish more parents would get help.

BearmanCartoons said...

I had a kid who insisted on kicking my seat with his foot. At least row 25 parents tried. This kids mom didn't say a word until I turned completely around and gave the kid a death stare. Why is it that people don't want to tell parents when their kid is rude anymore. I could be three streets over and do something wrong and my mom would have heard it from 2 people by the time I made it home.

oceangirl415 said...

I can't say it for sure but I believe parents are the ones responsible for the way their children behave. But then I could be wrong. I think as parents we must carry out our responsibility to discipline our children and teach them good manners. The outcome, maybe, is not within our control.

lisleman said...

You make a good point about the difference in how the neighborhood was better connected years ago. I think neighbors still connect some but not as much. They don't report back info to the parents maybe because they never bothered to meet the parents in the first place. thanks

lisleman said...

Oh I think we are responsible as parents and must try our best. Of course, trying our best doesn't always get the right result. But how can it not help. thanks

Jillsy Girl said...

I think too many parents try to mesmerize their kids with "things". No hands on attention given or interaction. You are so right that having been taught respect and manners is a gift that keeps on giving for your entire life. Great post and thanks for joining in! Do you realize you can post the Blog Hop here on your post as well by grabbing the link on my post where it says "What is a Blog Hop, Get the Code Here"? That way your viewers can join in as well!

blueviolet said...

I am happy to say that I'm like example #2 type mom. My kids learned from the beginning to just listen to me the first time. There really was no point arguing. I'm as stubborn as can be!

lisleman said...

That's good for everyone. I do catch myself arguing too much. I think I'm getting better. thanks for sharing a comment

lisleman said...

Yes I agree. I would not want a DVD player in my car. I could see having one in a RV. The blog hop code - I have not tried it but I probably should in the future. After I link up the link and your picture/badge I'm ready to post and then don't go back. thanks

Barbara S. said...

I totally agree with you and so many parents seem to avoid taking any action, hoping the situation resolves itself, which it rarely does. Kudos to the dad of the second family!

Jene said...

Definitely good thoughts to consider. I'd like to think that I'm modeling my own parenting after family #2, but I'm sure there are times of weakness when I sound more like #1. It's good to be reminded every so often.

TechnoBabe said...

Trying to change the way a parent works with a child out in public does not work for sure. What you witnessed with the two different families was how the parents treated their children at home so that out in public one set of kids was obedient and compliant and enjoyable and the other set of kids was in a state of confusion with no boundaries. This was a good post which speaks about many aspects of manners. Thinking of others and being respectful begins at a young age.

lisleman said...

I have certainly made mistakes over the years with my kids. But having the right attitude to learn from it and do better next time does work. thanks for sharing and being so honest.

lisleman said...

I agree with you on the boundaries. Kids will always test them and if there are none at they are not going expect any in other places. thanks for sharing.

secret agent woman said...

When my kids were young, they were generally well behaved in public and during travels. We didn't threaten them and we never, ever hit them. Not once. I'm am convinced that children can be reasoned with and that there can be non-violent consequences to help guide them.

lisleman said...

I wish I could proudly say that about never hitting them. Unfortunately there were a few times. thanks for sharing.

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