Thursday, 19 May 2011

People are just plain rude.

Since when did we become a society which does not value manners? Or maybe the question should be, since when did being an adult mean that you don't need to bother with the basic manners your Nans, Grandmas and Mums spent years drilling into you as a little child? Or if they didn't drill them into you, why not?

Manners are such a pet hate of mine with children, or rather the lack of. When I'm teaching and doing my voluntary work at Rainbows and Brownies, I always insist the children say "please" when they want something and then "thank you" when they get it, and the Brownies in particular are dreadful at it and nearly always need prompting with, "what's the magic word?" However, most of them learnt that they have to be polite to me to get anything after I shouted at one girl (and bearing in mind this is one of only two times I've ever shouted at a child) after:

Child: "I need some sellotape"
Me: "That's not a question."
Child: "Can I have some sellotape?"
Me: "What's the magic word?"
Child: "Now."

Ok, so most children are not that cheeky, but so few of them use their basic manners without prompting, and as for them interrupting other people, their manners are pretty much non-existent, even by ages 8 or 9. And whilst that used to surprise me, it's come to my attention recently that there are so many grown-ups who don't uphold the same manners and respect, so it's no real wonder that the children of today aren't learning their basic "please" and "thank you".

I have been particularly wound up by my family regarding this. My brother has returned from university as such a pretentious, rude little git that he talks over me, demands things without so much as even one 'magic word' and doesn't bother with basic courtesy of letting us know where he is, before coming home late and making my Mum cook his dinner. My Mum isn't much better: twice today she's told me to do various things without a  "please", and yesterday I made a journey out to buy guinea pig food after she forgot, not to get a "thank you" for that either.

Manners really do cost nothing, and a lack of them does put you very far down in my esteem. However, perhaps this isn't a commonly-held ideal any more, maybe we're going the way of the French who always comment on our manners because they don't bother and maybe being polite and nice to each other is a dying art.

Is it just me who feels like this? I know I'm in a particularly bad mood at the moment, (my brother, for talking over me, got severely shouted at and had the remote lobbed at his smug face, which actually shut him up for the first time ever) so I'm aware I may be being more sensitive to these things, but it can't just be me who is wound up by this sort of thing, and it's something which has persistently bothered me with children.

So I'm going to have a 'manners' award for my class when I'm teaching next year, I'm going to break the back of this rude epidemic 30 children at a time and I'm going to reward politeness as if it's the greatest asset in the world. Which, I genuinely believe, it is.


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