Apr 1, 2008

Overly Polite?

You would think my children live with Miss Manners. I'm a stickler for being polite - to each other as well as others.. It's almost as if they come from the womb with the innate knowledge that I expect them to precede each opening of the mouth with the utterance "excuse me". Either I'm forever saying it, so they are parroting me or I just harp on them about it way too much.

Gavin, being the first born, was ever conscientious about living up to my expectations and always trying to please me. He uttered that beautiful phrase with such precision. I was (and still am) a proud Mom. He was very articulate as a toddler. It was just adorable to hear with his little pip-squeak voice, "Uh, ex-quuuuze me Mommy, but I need to go potty." Music to a mother's ears. To this day, when he begins a sentence to anyone, it starts with "excuse me". He is determined not to be rude! He doesn't speak with much force in his voice (at least to strangers - he seems to reserve the loud, excitable voice for indoor use with us only). How many 9 year olds do you hear talking to their friends, "Excuse me [best friend], would you like to go climb on that tree over there?"

Then there's Bennett....there's always Bennett. The one forever making a joke out of things that aren't even funny. I'm envisioning my little 18month old toddler who seemed to forever have a wet shirt from a faucet of never-ending drool spouting from some invisible hole in his chin. He always wore a smirk on his face. You couldn't help but laugh when looking at him. That only seemed to fuel his fire. And remember, this is the kid that talked in triplicate EVERYTIME he spoke. "No, no, no" or "eat, eat, eat" or even now it's "look, look, look". He had such a low voice. We've always jokingly called him our 'little cartoon'. Well, why would being polite be any different? Combine that low voice, wet chin, mischievous grin with the "foo me, foo me, foo me". How could anyone take that seriously? Foo me was his way of saying "excuse me". So, say for example, he was wanting Gavin's attention this is what you would hear, "foo me, foo me, foo me, vuh-vuh, vuh-vuh, vuh-vuh!" He might have accomplished being polite (technically), but he certainly didn't accomplish the not interrupting and being rude part. I guess we should just tackle one issue at a time.

Then along comes Miss Priss. Everything she does has to be precise and perfect. She has no qualms correcting anyone who mispronounces something or misreads a page in a book that she has already memorized. Since all she has ever heard is some version of "excuse me" before her brothers ever talk, the precedent had been set. She is now fully aware of what is right and what is inappropriate. In her world, saying "excuse me" is best done with an airy, princess, mommy voice (you can go ahead and assume here that I always speak this way). Therefore, in order to get everyone's full attention she properly and politely says, "Foo-meet, but I would like to play wif wuu." (of course 'foo meet' is princess for "excuse me"). When no one responds (because no one can actually hear the airy princess voice), she has had enough and yells at the top of her lungs, "Foo meet!!!! Fumone peeeeez play wif me!!! NOW!"

I don't know that any of those qualify as being overly polite...but we're heading down the right path...I hope.


Jennboree said...

Whew! I am SO glad we aren't the only ones who work tirelessly to teach our little ones good manners. Bella is getting really good at saying "excuse me" and almost excessive with it. Both girls say "thank you" and "please" though not always applied correctly, it is still cute.

Do you teach your kids to say "yes or no ma'am" and "yes or no sir"? Some of our friends think it is archaic, but we have far too many elders in our family not to teach them that way.

I think good manners are more than just the words out of their mouth. It teaches respect and gratitude. Many adults don't even bother!

cori said...

Yes, Jenn, we also encourage the 'mam' and 'sir', but it doesn't always work. They seem to remember it real good though when they are in trouble. :)

Katrina said...

I bet people tell you all the time what a delight your kids are to be around. You're giving them a huge gift that will help them throughout their lives. Good manners will take you far!

Jennifer said...

Though we work on the manners, I can say in no uncertain terms that your kids take the cake when it comes to good manners! They are the pictures of proper etiquette and behavior. I so with that we were around you guys more often - maybe some of you would rub off on them! But, for now, I am happy when they say their 'thank you' and 'please' - Alex has mastered 'excuse me' but the other 2 are lacking in that area. Oh well, one battle at a time, right?

cori said...

thank you for your kind words ladies...but you think better of us than you ought. we are constantly a work in progress, forever in training. sometimes it helps to park a while on the good days and just soak it up. :) that's what i was doing here - just enjoying the moments of politeness that they happen to remember (sometimes). thanks for all the encouragement you all always provide. cori

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