Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Whatever happened to common courtesy?

Is it just me? It seems that people have stopped using the basic common courtesies we all learned as children. I'm talking the basics, like saying thank you to someone who does something for you that they didn't have to do. I'm talking about saying excuse me if you step in front of someone. I'm talking about speaking to people - no matter their age - in a respectful manner. What happened? Where did it all go?

In the past month or so, I have written letters of recommendation for two of my son's former teachers as they search for new teaching positions, and neither one even said thank you. I don't expect a parade, but is it too much to expect a simple "thanks"? One of the teachers in particular irked me because I have not seen nor heard from her for more than 6 months, my son doesn't even go to her school anymore, and she tracked me down to ask me for a glowing recommendation, and she didn't even have the courtesy to acknowledge receiving it, much less thank me for writing it. Am I being ridiculous?

I was walking through an automatic doorway yesterday and this woman decided to try to go through at the same time as me. She practically body slammed me on her way past me, and when I turned to say "excuse me" she didn't even pause or look back and instead kept barreling through to the store. Isn't it common courtesy to say excuse me when you bump into someone? I say even when I don't think it's my fault, because maybe it is my fault and I don't want to be rude.

And don't even get me started on customer service!! The phrase "customer service" has morphed into an oxymoron.

Kids today - mine included when they think I'm not paying attention - no longer "ask" for things. They issue orders. "I want more milk." "Buy that for me." When mine do it, I stare at them, and they just keep barking orders at me, and I carry on with my business. Sweetie will bark and bark and bark until he finally gets the hint and asks me nicely, but it takes him a long time to figure it out. And the tones of voice that kids use!! Sometimes Sweetie speaks to me in a tone that I never would have dreamed of using with my mother, even when I was a pukey teenager. It astounds me how often I have to say to him, "If I were you, I would think about the voice I am using with my mother and maybe start over." Just tonight, after I told Stinker to "put your shoes on, please, it's time to go" my THREE YEAR OLD said "whatever" and walked away from me. Are you kidding me??

And kids are so bossy and disrespectful with each other. I'm not talking about siblings necessarily, because I recognize that you sometimes reveal your ugliest self with the people who are closest to you. I'm talking about kids who are supposed to be "friends" yet they speak to each other in a voice that suggests they can't stand each other. When did it become "cool" to be a jackass in elementary school?? I always believed the jackass factor didn't kick in until middle school, after kids have at least had a chance to navigate through school for a couple of years. As an example, a boy in Sweetie's FIRST GRADE class told Sweetie very matter of factly that he is a baby. Why? Because he was cold, so he put his arms around me and said "hug me to help me get warm." We're talking 6 years old, not 14!! WTF?? And when I said to the boy, "you know, it's not very nice to call people names" he said - swear to God - "so?"

I don't profess to be the best mother in the world, but by God my kids will learn their manners and they will learn to be respectful, especially of adults. It's a work in progress for sure, and we have a long way to go with our table manners, but at least they usually say please and thank you - especially to people other than me - and disrespect is simply not tolerated in my house.

It's sad enough that kids aren't learning common courtesies, but it's really sad when they don't learn them because their parents don't even utilize them. What has happened to the world?

No comments: