In the month of May, I have oddly heard few and far between polite, playground-friendly phrases. Is it too much to ask for: “Mommy, may I puhleese go to The American Girl Store?” in lieu of “I want the doll store nowowowow!!!” It would be music to my ears to hear: “I would love to share my bubble wand with you,” as opposed to the cacophony of “You can’t have my bubbles. Now go away.” On a recent (and apparently risky) trip to the park, I overheard something similar uttered by a three-year old terror in Pepto-Bismol tie-dye. The subject of her wrath was none other than my curious, curly-haired cherub. I wanted to tell this brat and her oblivious mother to “move to suburbia and leave my sweet little man alone.” I wanted to thank the nanny, who dressed this hellion, for temporary blinding me with sun-reflecting, rhinestoned ruffles. But by the time I recovered and opened my eyes, she was gone, likely consuming something from the Good Humor truck. Ironic.
Have we started to shed our socially-appropriate selves while working waitlists for Mandarin lessons or fighting for the last spot at a nut-free, all-organic summer camp? Are basic manners a thing of the past, like non-gel manicures or MySpace? Similar to the trite (albeit, trusty) apple-and-tree cliché, our offspring do not fall far from our well-toned branches. So, get into the habit of saying “excuse me” or “sorry” after you sweat on me in spin class. Don’t just throw me a look as if to say, “deal with it—whatever—I could, like, bottle my B.O.” Why? Because your children are watching, and soaking up everything like Scotch Brite. Courtesy, generosity, humility, and human decency are not inherent—we were cavepeople before some societal genius created structure and rules. Teaching is not hovering or helicopter-parenting. Correcting bad behavior is not going to dampen spirit. These traits will make your child a good person, a pleasure on playdates with, and will probably help prevent a good ass-kicking come middle school. BTDubs, I am a far cry from Emily Post. I talk too loudly, I use my cell phone in elevators, and I am still a fan of my four-letter words–used most freely when I drop a cupcake facedown or bang my kneecap into the coffee table.
We can’t be both sleep-deprived and perfect, and sometimes, acting out can be kinda fun. But perhaps there is a happy medium between prim and rude. Prude? No, that isn’t good either. Yet, some sort of equilibrium must exist. If you want to squeeze in some etiquette in between errands, drill your darlings with adorable Good Manners Flash Cards by eeBoo, available on Diapers.com (yes—I actually have a set!). Or, just use good-old “please” and “thank you” when you ask your mother-in-law to lay off the Shalimar. Modeling is not overrated. And if inquiring minds must know, I am currently self-treating my addiction to expletives; my child WILL NOT speak/act like a frat-boy before he’s a frat-boy, nor screw up his shot at a top-tier preschool. Now how the F@#$% am I going to pull this off?