Want to be Real and Polite? Here’s How!
By: Maralee McKee
You’ve been missed! I’m glad to be back!
Allow me to fill you in on all the latest in McKee Land!
(If you want to skip right to the etiquette part of this post, you’ll find the first bold blue title farther down the page.)
When I went on vacation last month, I didn’t think it would be so long until we chatted! One week, quick as a wink, turned into one month! Wow!
Summer + kids = Mommy has no time to form coherent sentences, let alone download them on the blog!
Plus, my boys have developed a strange physical condition along with their summer growth spurts: constant hunger! Take a look at my daily routine and see if you relate!
1. Wake up.
2. Let the dog outside.
3. Feed the boys.
4. Listen to my first chorus of, “Mom, I’m bored!” while I’m cleaning the breakfast dishes.
5. Get dressed, make the bed, and ask the boys to clean their room.
6. Answer e-mails and take care of a household task or two.
7. Listen to, “Mom, I’m hungry! When’s lunch?” (By the way, it’s only about 11:15 AM! How can they be so hungry already?!)
8. Fix lunch.
9. Clean up lunch while listening to the second chorus of our family anthem, “Mom, I’m bored!”
10. Say, “Mom needs to get a little work done.” Get the boys doing something constructive. OK, at least something semi-constructive! OK… I’m not above an episode or two of SpongeBob.
11. Fifteen minutes later hear, “Mom, I’m still bored. What else can I do?”
12. Give the boys chores. Boys disappear so they don’t have to do chores. This buys me 30 minutes. Yeah!
13. Boys start getting into snacks. So, I stop what I’m doing and fix them a healthy (OK, semi-healthy) alternative.
14. After their snack I ask them to stop playing video games and finish the chores I gave them earlier.
15. Get in about 45 minutes of work. (Wish they were young enough to still take naps!)
16. Hear, “Mom, I’m hungry. What’s for dinner?”
17. Look up and see that’s its 4:30 PM and time to start dinner.
18. About 5:45 PM, Kent, my husband, comes home. “Hi, Honey! That smells great, what’s for dinner? I’m hungry! By the way, did you get another chapter of your book written today?”
19. Remind myself that he’s being encouraging and simply smile and say, “Dinner’s ready! Let’s eat!”
20. Clean the kitchen, work on laundry, e-mails, and so on. Thank the Lord for a loving family, a home, healthy children and food to feed them! Go to sleep so I can do it again tomorrow!
Of course, none of that has anything to do with etiquette. It’s just that now that I’ve vented I can concentrate on more gracious matters!
I really have missed you!
Etiquette, yes! I’m back on track now!
Want to hear about something that happened to me that made me angry? Well… angry isn’t the right word. I guess I was more sad than angry.
Troy Schmidt, the fantastic screenwriter for the multi-million selling Hermie® DVDs (Note to Troy: You didn’t say it; I did, so it’s a compliment, not bragging!) and I have written a series of children’s books for ages 4-8 about a magical cat, Miss Eticat’s Guide to Purrfect Manners®! (Honestly, you have to think that’s the cutest title you’ve ever heard!)
Well… Our agent sent the first three manuscripts to a Christian publishing house. The editor liked the books! Great news!
Bottom line… she wouldn’t publish them.
Her reason, Moms, even Christian moms, she said, don’t care about manners. It’s a dead issue. Moms today don’t like authority figures. They aren’t going to want Miss Eticat showing their children how to act she explained.
Moms, don’t care?! Mom’s don’t teach or value kind interactions anymore?
So my fellow mom… is she right? Is that how you feel?
Has Miss Eticat lived her nine lives?
Are manners and the idea that we would purposely interact with kindness too gentle, others-centered, and archaic for our fast-paced, in-your-face, survive-or-be-thrown-off-the-island society?
It’s a sad but increasingly common belief.
Many view manners as a mask that hide impulses and ill passions. They reason that they make a show of virtues not really existing in the heart. They equate manners with hypocrisy.
Sadly, examples are easy to find. The polished family-values politician caught in an affair. The gracious used car salesman who shakes your hand and sells you what he knows is a lemon. The friendly husband and father publically extolled by church and community who privately abuses his family. All outwardly well-mannered; inwardly, all false to the core.
In that case, is being “real” even if our real selves are crude, self-centered, and cruel, better virtue than “false” manners?
Here’s the common confusion and the answer. Etiquette and manners are two different things. They tend to be lumped together. To be understood, they must be separated.
What are manners?
Manners are the language of our truest self. Their foundation is anchored in our heart. They can’t be faked.
Kind manners are our regard for the feelings and comfort of others. Manners are the hidden fruit that our spirit yields. Hopefully it includes a healthy crop of kindness, gentleness, self-control, patience… the list continues.
Don’t be fooled; when expressed properly, manners never cause us to become a doormat. Instead, we’re a beacon in an unsteady world.
Those who doubt that anyone is truly kind mannered think it’s too much trouble and hard work themselves. They label it “false” or “put-on” and mock its benefits. They’re right in one way. It requires continuous effort.
It’s a virtue, and like any virtue it’s never too late to acquire it for ourselves.
How to add a virtue? First prayerfully desire it; second practice it until it becomes the rule instead of the exception in your interactions. Once grounded in your heart, it becomes an attribute and no longer a mask.
What is etiquette?
Etiquette comes from outside of us and changes by century, nation, and situation. It’s written in sand not stone. It’s never outdated because it continually evolves to meet the needs and sensibilities of the current generation. (That’s why I research and write all that I do for you and me!)
What is the value and importance of etiquette?
It’s our ticket to interacting with ease, graciousness, and confidence. It’s the vehicle that delivers the unseen fruit of our spirit (our good manners) in our interactions.
To be more than window dressing in our lives, it must be expressed in the words we say and the things we do every day, everywhere with everybody! It’s not meant to be saved up to impress certain certain people or show off at special events.
Examples of incorporating etiquette in our daily interactions include writing thank you notes, saying, “Excuse me, please!” when we reach in front of someone, wishing the person on the other end of the phone a great day… and meaning it, responding promptly when someone sends you an invitation so they’re not left wondering if they should prepare for you or not, knowing when to stand and when to sit.
The list goes on and on. In fact when compiled it’s called an “Etiquette Book,” or in our case, an “Etiquette Blog!”
It’s meant to please ourselves and others. It’s the outward expression of our inward kindness.
Etiquette is the “form” our manners take.
Form matters… a lot!
Ask a successful CEO, athlete, singer, or chef; they’ll agree. There’s always “best practices” and room for improvement. That’s why Tiger Woods doesn’t have one golf coach… he has three!
What happened to our collective good manners?
In the last decades, through the turbulent sixties, the feel-good, me-first seventies, the Brat Pack questioning of the eighties (I saw all those movies in junior high and high school!), the lavish spending of the nineties, and now with the uncertainties and fear brought on by terrorism and economic recession of this decade, our society (Maybe not me and you so much!) have made a slow trade.
We’ve traded our good manners for an “edge.”
The rougher, more raw and more real the edge the better. Some reason that it helps them belong to and at the same time protects them from our harsh and crude culture. What it really does is bruise us and those we encounter. It is the smoothness of manners that blunts the edges and polishes the whole of our interactions.
There were hypocrites in biblical times, there are today, there will always be. Don’t let them dismay us from cultivating the virtue of kindness in ourselves and our children, and expressing it through etiquette in every encounter with the form of an ambassador.
An ambassador for ourselves, our family, our church, and the services or organizations we represent.
Etiquette dead? No way!
Moms we don’t tend to roll over and give up when the times are harsh, do we? What we need now more than ever is an extra dose of kind manners and etiquette! For ourselves, and for our children!
Will You Do Me a Favor?
I miss hearing from you!
Hop over to the blog right now and leave a comment. Let the world know you value manners and etiquette! Are good manners dead? Do moms care? Would you welcome a fun, funny, wise, and loving mentor like Miss Eticat on your child’s bookshelf? (http://www.mannersmentor.com/)
See you soon with a post on texting. I’m using it more than I thought I would! If you are too, then you’ll enjoy this one. “Five Things You Want to Know and Do When Texting.” It’s going to be fun and informative!
I value and appreciate each of you! You’re the greatest and I love connecting with you. I could sure use some more readers. We have a big etiquette message to deliver to the world. Please forward my blog to your friends and loved ones!
PS: A special thank you and a giant hug to Ms. Christy Jordan and Mr. Bill Gent—two beacons of graciousness, kindness, and encouragement in the world at large and especially in my world! I appreciate you both so very much!
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