Previously on Jana’s Thinking Place…

Did you read the title like the beginning of LOST? All dramatic and mysterious?

If not, go back and try again. I’ll wait. I’ve got nothing better to do.

So today finds me sick and grumpy.

I KNOW, right?  I’m never grumpy. But I am today for some reason. The kiddo is being good(ish) and is playing and watching TV and generally being lazy because it’s too hot to do anything else. School starts in 10 days and both of us are oh-so-ready.

We’re just jamming to Phineas and Ferb sing about how much they love and miss Perry the Platypus. Eating biscuits with butter and blueberry preserves. Trying to stay cool and sane. Watching the Chipmunks (Who thinks that Chipmunks going to school is normal? They just carry on like it’s no big deal that furry rodent things are roaming their schools in monogrammed sweaters) and doing budgets.

The exciting news today is that I’m syndicated on BlogHer!

Syndicated on

It’s my maiden voyage over there and I couldn’t be more thrilled! See my cute new button over on the sidebar? That’s my badge of awesomeness.

Some of you will recognize part of the post but it IS different.

Without further ado…

Playing the Hand I Was Dealt on BlogHer!

Are You In?

The other day, I volunteered at my son’s school for Lunch Bunch. I was disgusted by the table manners of the children as a whole. My Henry is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but he does use his utensils (not his hands), uses his napkin (not his arm) and chews with his mouth closed. I expressed my disgust on Facebook and Twitter and a dialog started. Where have manners in general gone? Are parents not teaching them?

I asked my friend Kate if she would like to talk a bit about manners on here. She is a certified Business Etiquette Consultant. That’s fancy words for training and goading work forces toward productive and polite behavior. She’s the author of The Civilized Minute and also writes a blog under the same name.

Thank you, Kate, for agreeing to share with my readers about the importance of recognizing those teachable moments! Take it away…

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Childrens’ manners. Ugh. I am entrenched in the etiquette world and I even say ugh.

But, let’s be honest. It’s not the children that deserve the ugh. Kids don’t come into this world knowing not to stare at their friend’s dad’s ear hair. They must be told.

Don’t get me wrong, I love kids. I have 2 of my own. I mean we have 2 of our own…I keep forgetting The Hubs had a little something to do with it. A daughter who is 12, tall, witty… and holds her tea glass as if it were a baseball bat. A son who is 9, a practical joker, is very good at math…and usually smells very bad (although I recently discovered that smelling bad is a direct outcome of letting the dog lick your face). I love them dearly, but they are still kids who tend to act ridiculous in the very situations where I would prefer savvy over real.

When I’m conducting business etiquette training, here is an exercise I do with most groups. I ask each person to write the word ‘attitude’ vertically along the left margin of their paper. For each letter in the word, they are to write a characteristic of a person with a good attitude. For example, A might be ‘always offers to help a coworker’, T might be ‘takes criticism well’ and so on. After the lists are made, I ask this question: How do you think this person acquired all these wonderful qualities? It never fails. Someone always says “It started at home.” Or, “The way they were raised.” These are not educators or child psychologists talking here. These are just people who go to work, go to the ball field, go to the grocery store, the post office, the doctor’s office.

I couldn’t agree more with their comments. Instruction on how to appropriately interact with other people does begin at home and it begins early. After a visit to her son’s school cafeteria, Jana thinks so, too. That’s why she asked me write this post. And, after watching a tween- aged child speak horribly to her mother in the grocery store (I would have been tempted to douse her with that Cool Whip that poor lady was holding) and after watching a grown man display some serious aggression toward the middle school basketball game referee, I told her I was IN.

We recycle paper and plastic to ensure a healthy earth for our future generations. We also have a responsibility to ensure a civil and courteous America by teaching our children the importance of simply being nice. You see, there is a fine line between ethical behavior and etiquette. And, it blurs with each passing childhood year. You start with teaching a toddler to look at someone’s eyes when they say Hello and, before you know it, you are talking to your college son about how a man’s character can be determined by the way he greets every man, woman and child. You aren’t just telling your child to sit still and quietly in his chair while you fill out forms at the vet’s office. You are preparing him for situations you won’t always be there to guide him through. Using the correct fork and taking small bites of food may not seem terribly important to teach a 5 year old, but knowing the different ways we express our appreciation for people who do things for us is very important. Even at 5, a child can understand that it hurts Mommy’s feelings to snub her chicken casserole and even Mommies like to hear sweet words like Thank you for cooking my supper {again}. (I just added that. You don’t have to teach them to say ‘again’.)

I am happy to do what I can to make sure my 2 kids appreciate and respect the people who inhabit our world. So, I’ll take care of mine, Jana is taking care of hers, I have high hopes for the mom at the grocery store…what about you? Are you in?

For all that is relaxing and good about a shopping trip to Publix or trying to read a book in any pediatrician’s waiting room, please say Yes.

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