That headline just cries out for a sarcasm font, doesn’t it? Popping up here and there on Facebook was a
stupid and longwinded delightful post about children and manners that originally ran in the March 2011 issue of Parenting magazine. This was not something like the 10 most important manners, but 25 Manners Every Kid Should Know By Age 9. Wait, there are 25 different manners?! Crap. And what is it about the age of nine? Does the rest of the human brain outgrow the part that controls annoying and thoughtless behavior in the 9th year? There is so much wrong about this I don’t even know where to begin. Allow me to enlighten you.
When asking for something, say “Please.”
When receiving something, say “Thank you.”
Agreed. As long as I don’t have to make homemade thank you notes.
Related: Kid-Made Thank You Notes Oh. I guess this is where we stop agreeing. I will never, ever, ever buy japanese paper balls and have my kids hand stamp them for a personal, individual thank you note. Never ever ever never. I might as well just pour ink all over my kitchen floor and go bury $50 in the yard.
Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.
This is adorable. It is so cute that this author thinks 9 year olds should be able to do this! Who wrote this, anyway? Have they ever met a child? Or since I only have boys, maybe this is a gender thing. Has he ever met a boy child? And btw, everything is an emergency for a 9 year-old kid.
If you do need to get somebody’s attention right away, the phrase “excuse me” is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.
Pumpkin Pie’s preferred entry into a conversation is barking. But he is only 5. I am sure by the time he is 9 he will have this down, like his 12 year old brother who chants “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Momomomomomomomomomom-oof!” (That is when he gets an elbow to the solar plexus.)
When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.
Bahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!! Deeeeep sucking breath Wraahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!! Wipe tears from eyes.
The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.
Cloud 8 version: Shut your pie hole.
Do not comment on other people’s physical characteristics unless, of course, it’s to compliment them, which is always welcome.
See Manner #6.
When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.
We all know that there are lots of adults that haven’t mastered this. And I would argue that you don’t actually tell them how you are. You simply say, “Fine, thanks. And you?”. Your elderly neighbor doesn’t really want to know that you are irritated because your mom won’t let you play with the chainsaw (this actually happened), she just wants you to demonstrate that your mother has taught you some manners. (Or hasn’t. Whatever.)
When you have spent time at your friend’s house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.
See #2. Also remember to apologize for the juice you spilled on their couch and the expensive electronic game you broke. And for calling their baby a rude name.
Knock on closed doors — and wait to see if there’s a response — before entering.
Unless you want to spend even more time in therapy as an adult.
When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.
Phones are for texting.
Be appreciative and say “thank you” for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.
Didn’t we cover this in #2, too?
Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant.
Quite simply, shut your damn pie hole.
Don’t call people mean names.
Shut your damn pie hole, asshat.
Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.
Bullying is not bad manners, it is abusive behavior intended to hurt someone and involves an imbalance of power. It’s parents’ job to monitor their kids attitudes toward others and teach and model kindness, acceptance, inclusion and generally deal with any asshat perceptions and behaviors. (Stepping off my own soapbox now… Whaaaah!- I tripped.)
Having said that, not teasing people I love goes against one of the basic tenets of my life. You have to be able to laugh at yourself or you will become an insufferable gassbag who writes parenting articles about 15,356 Ways To Improve Your Posture While Your Stepford Children Say ‘Excuse Me’. Wait… Oh, never mind.
Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.
One word: Benadryl. If Mommy has access to Xanax, it’s only fair.
If you bump into somebody, immediately say “Excuse me.”
As in “Excuse me, but you are IN MY WAY, asshat!”
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don’t pick your nose in public.
Okay, I actually agree with this one. Pumpkin Pie is a terrible nose picker, I can only hope he gets over it by the time he is 9.
As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.
And then slam it in their face like most folks at the Wa Wa.
If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say “yes,” do so — you may learn something new.
I like this one, but he made me not want to do it when he said “you may learn something new“.
When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.
An outgoing, socially adept younger kid may be able to manage this, but it will be lost by the time they are 13 due to hormones and general butt-headedness, but keep the dream alive!
When someone helps you, say “thank you.” That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!
We covered this in #2, #9 and #12. Do I have to make them a collage of photos of my children holding up thank you signs and include their footprints done in paint? Maybe I could have the kids save up to pay for a more personalized thank you in skywriting? Creative AND memorable. We get it, I agreed on #2. Move on, already.
Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.
Even at the fanciest eating establishment, (I am talking like Don Pablo’s here) no one would ever notice the manner in which my children were getting the food into their mouths because of the loud arguing. If they would just eat and not fight, I don’t care if they pour food into their gobs out of a salad spinner.
Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.
Why would you do that when you have a chair, chair cushion, sleeves, pant legs, mother and a perfectly good table on which to wipe your cheese hands?
Don’t reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.
And when you write a list of important things, keep it to 10. Or fewer. Please and thank you.
In summary, I can boil these 25 manners into three:
#1- Say please and thank you.
#2- If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.
#3- Don’t be an asshat.
I know #3 is a little vague, but I am comfortable that my personal definition is enough to make my kids more polite and manner-ful than many adults. I trust most of your ideas about what is asshat-ish and what isn’t, too. I guess there are some folks out there who need it spelled out in
a preachy, soapbox way 25 easy-to-manage steps, but I’d rather spend that time reading something really useful like Think Yourself to Straighter Teeth. Thank you.