Manners. Please.

manners. please

Each generation bemoans a lack of manners and respect in the next. I think it’s been that way since Adam was a boy. Parents of young kids are a constant, easy target for those that have forgotten just hard it is. Or never had anything to do with bringing up kids in the first place.

But you know what would make it a little easier? If the people levelling the charges showed some good manners themselves.

In the past few days I’ve seen some ridiculously entitled behaviour. And it tends to be from the generation that say “kids these days have no backbone, no respect and no manners“, yet show very little of those values themselves.

A couple of school mornings a week, students from our school participate in run club. It’s a great initiative run by teacher and parent volunteers. A bunch of children gather together in the local park and are challenged to improve their style and speed. And to have a bit of fun. A shared bike path runs through the park. It’s clearly signed that it’s shared between pedestrians and bike riders. Entitled, white guy comes through on his bike and had to wait a few moments before the kids were all safely moved to one side to let him through. All bluster, he puffs, clearly enraged “it’s not like I have to get to work or anything“. I suppose the traffic parts like the red sea as he approaches. I’m sure he went off, believing himself completely in the right and that the rude behaviour was on behalf of the kids “in his way”.

The other morning I headed out to breakfast with my boys. We waited in the area marked to wait to be seated. An older white gentleman and his friend joined the queue behind us. As soon as a waiter approached, they started asking for a table, ignoring my boys and I. There is very little that enrages me more than people who jump queue. But clearly they thought themselves more important, more worthy than those who were waiting first.

I went to the Adele concert on Saturday and it was all kinds of fabulous. But once again I saw those people who decided that they were more important than those around them. They stood, when everyone else was seated, completely blocking the view of those behind them. Everyone at that concert paid a lot of money for their chance to see and hear Adele. When those standing were asked to be seated by the very organised and patient security staff, you can imagine the replies.

I actually wonder what these people see. Did they see my boys and I waiting at the restaurant? Maybe they didn’t. Did the bike rider see the kids trying hard, the parents and teachers giving up their time? Probably not. Did the people standing at Adele acknowledge that they weren’t the only ones in a 60,000 strong crowd? Their actions certainly didn’t. Are they the only ones visible in their worlds? The only ones that matter? To me, that deliberate choice to not see is where bad manners start.

Manners are a way of letting other people know that they are valued and respected. A way of saying “I see you. You are important. My actions and words reflect that“. It’s incredibly important to me that my boys consider others. I want to bring up empathetic children who understand the true value of manners and are respected in the same way.

We set that example at home. Our family, friends and teachers set that example. It would help enormously if the village surrounding us did too.

Rant over. Anything annoyed you today?

8 thoughts on “Manners. Please.

  1. Amanda says:

    I find I say “please” and “thank you” at the TV a lot – a hang up of teaching a 3.5 year old manners…
    and I hate the queue jumpers too!

  2. Paula, The Geeky Shopaholic says:

    “Are they the only ones visible in their worlds?” – Sadly, yes. I know a lot of people like that. And I’ve acted that way myself. But I’m learning to pay closer attention and not get wrapped up in my own world in public. Some people are intentionally being rude and just don’t care. Others just aren’t thinking that what they are doing is rude and don’t realize until someone calls them out on it. One example of myself was once being so wrapped up in my phone I nearly walked into people several times and I didn’t even notice. My sister called me out on it and I’m glad she did!

    • Robyna says:

      I think it’s the reaction when called on not paying attention. People that realise that they may have unintentionally hurt another person and immediately own that are very different to those that respond with rage that anyone should question their infallibility.

  3. Megan says:

    I’m torn on this one. Totally get where you’re coming from, however, at the same time…..
    “Entitled, white guy”, “older white gentleman” and “those people”…….
    May I call you out on specifying the appearance of the people in two of three of your encounters?
    Not sure what the colour of their skin or their gender has to do with their manners – or lack thereof.
    With the limited information provided, let us think about a few things.
    There could have been significant injuries to at least one child if the cyclist had not been paying attention. The cyclist could be dealing with stressful circumstances at home or at work, or just life. Of course we should not project our inner stress on to others, but we’ve all done it at one point, surely. If it was a shared path and the cyclist was unable to pass because of students…..well the path was not being shared (or the cyclist could have just gone around!?!). Sounds like further risk assessment needs to be undertaken.
    If the person in the cafe was behind you and made an obvious effort to get a table before you, then the wait staff need training, and you need to speak up.
    As for the Adele concert, a heightened state of arousal makes for interesting behaviour. While I would hope most people would respond positively when asked to rectify an undesirable behaviour, some people will always challenge the status quo, challenge authority. I’ve never been to a sit down concert (the concept is completely foreign to me). In a crowd of 60,000, if you only had concerns about a handful of people, I’d let that one slip through to the keeper.
    There could be a multitude of reasons for all of these encounters, but some things can’t be excused, some people are just *insert non swear word*.
    We cannot control anybody else’s behaviour (good Lord don’t toddlers remind us of that daily?!). We can only control our response.
    Great lessons for everyone. Are you really going to remember that one time that one person muttered something in passing early one morning?
    Is having someone jump queue going to have a long lasting impact your life?
    In the age of technology (when 59,999 people probably posted footage online), are you going to miss out on much having your view obstructed for a moment in time?
    How much will it impact you in 5 minutes? 5 days? 5 years? Not much? Deep breath. Move on. We all have poopy days. Sorry you’ve had a few recently.
    I hate to be *that* person, but I will be! I see so much to be thankful for in this piece. Health, time spent with children, food, money, experiences, etc.
    We need to be the change we want to see. Here’s to our children. May they move through life with empathy and grace….the majority of the time.
    Writing things down always helps my assessment of the situation, hope it is the same for you. Fingers crossed the new week is kinder to you and your boys.

    • Robyna says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I prefer not to generalise, but by and large I do see rude behaviour from middle aged, white men more than any others. Look, maybe I am biased and I’m looking for it – I will be mindful of that.

      The bike thing was more about impatience than anything else – it’s a perfectly safe path but not commonly used or designed for a group of kids running. It would have been an unusual situation for the bike rider, but I don’t think he handled it well.

      As for the concert, we had a laugh with the people around us and they were lovely. However, a little way down there was a group of (fairly drunk) women who were constantly standing up and blocking the view of those behind them, after being asked repeatedly to sit down. You could see those people getting very frustrated and the group of women completely ignoring their requests. That’s rude, no matter how you cut it. The venue was such that if someone stood in front of you, you had no chance of seeing anything and the crowd control staff were very mindful of that. Tickets were also VERY expensive.

      In any situation a person could be excused for being rude because something is going on their lives. But we all have stuff going in our lives – deciding that our stuff overrides everything else is arrogant and not something I see as a good example for my kids.

      And I am incredibly grateful for all I have – I have experienced immense loss and I never lose sight of gratitude (believe me) or perspective. Nor do I hold onto small slights. That’s not really what I wanted to get across in this post. However, I do think we have a communal responsibility to set a good example when it comes to manners. These were examples of when I don’t see that happening and they aren’t drops in the ocean – many of my friends have reported similar (and worse) behaviour. But this week, I am going to look out for all the kindnesses and the examples of great manners, because I am really not quite as bitter and twisted as they post may have made me out to be 🙂

  4. Tegan says:

    I agree so much with this. I’ve had far more older people be rude to myself or my son than people my own age. I’m Gen Y and we get such a bad wrap. The thing I find ironic though is that the generations who lament the loss of manners, morals etc are often the ones who raised the generation they are complaining about.
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    • Robyna says:

      I completely agree – I meet very few rude young people compared to older ones. Who seem to think that being rude is somehow okay because of their age and if younger people don’t tolerate that rudeness they are the ones being impolite. Crazy thinking.

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