I do not require my children to say Yes, Ma'am and No, Sir. I don't. It isn't a requirement. I do, however, teach my children respect. And from what I have witnessed, a sassy mouth can say Yes, Ma'am. I'd rather my children respect me and talk with me in a pleasing manner than to resentfully mind their Ps and Qs and feed me their ma'am and sir bit. So far, that's working pretty well. My kids, all five of them, are learning/have learned that they are to respond to questioning without attitude, to speak in their own voices (no whine....cause I don't have cheese to go with that! And if I did, I'd eat it...fresh mozzarella, havarti, provolone, cream cheese, triple cream cheese....oops, I digress!) and to just simply answer without talking over anyone else. Manners do mean something to me. They do! And I believe respect to be an important manner to mind! I just teach it in a way that my kids are to always show it in their words and actions whether they include ma'am and sir. And if they use ma'am and sir... maybe that's a bonus. You know, the icing on the cake. I used ma'am and sir so much while growing up and mostly as a young adult (and I still do...out of habit). But I have to say that most people don't particularly like the usage. It is an "age" thing. I hear "Oh, you make me feel old" and so it seems people don't appreciate it as much as in the 'good old days'. As long as someone is speaking to me in a respectful manner, I seem not to be impressed with ma'am and sir. But, hey, that's just me. I really don't take notice of it when someone uses those words with me. Either way, I'm good with or without. However, a nice thank you goes a loooong way with me! Love a good thank you.
A good old fashioned thank you! I want my kids to be grateful. Grateful for what they have (people, place and things...all of their nouns!). So, I am responsible for teaching my kids to be grateful and to say thank you, and to always acknowledge someone when they are speaking, and to say someone's name when they need their attention. Those things are the manners I put high on my priority list. And those are what I am seeing coming from my children. My children have experienced loss and momentary lack. They already understand that we (and our things) aren't promised a tomorrow, so appreciate and be grateful for what you have when you have it! (here today..gone tomorrow!). They've lived that so much in the past few years. Life is short and sometimes, your "stuff" is shorter! So, grateful is an attitude. An attitude I want to present at all moments, not just when I have something wonderful. Grateful in loss and in tragedy...not necessarily FOR the tragedy itself, but that it could have been worse. Things can always feel worse even when we don't 'feel' like they can get any worse. (It can...been there; done that). So, all that to say that I am thankful that my children are full of 'thanks' and show appreciation in even the small things. My greatest example is this....
Each day, I cook a nice breakfast for the family. Each day, I cook a lunch (don't get me started on lunch....the worst meal preparation of the day...never know what to prepare! always a game (read struggle) for me!). And each evening, I cook a nice dinner for the family. My family is fed. Always fed. And they are always going to make sure that they are fed! Persistent little people! (seriously, they think they have to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks per day..... Every day!!!! :) haha). So, even though they find comfort (and not even aware of it) in knowing they'll eat today and most likely tomorrow, they always find a way to say thanks! I'm not sure when this started, but pretty much during each meal, the children chant their mantra. "On three. One. Two. Three. Thank you Mama!" And it isn't just something to say.... they mean it. They are thankful. Thankful that I took the time to prepare food FOR THEM. And many times, go the extra step or two and make it pretty in their plates. And many times, following the thank you chant comes this beautiful cheer "One. Two. Three. We love you Mama!" And that's when my heart melts. Seriously, I am wiping up the puddle of melted heart all over my counters! I suppose it comes with being a mama. Being so touched each and every time your children say those three beautiful words and show appreciation for doing what a mama is supposed to just...do!
We teach by example. Even when my children do something that they are required to do, I say thank you. "Remember to put your clothes away" and when I see that they have, I continue with "Thank you for putting your clothes away".... remember, even when they do something they are SUPPOSED to do. This encourages them to do it again and again and again and that I appreciate them following through with their responsibility. Don't you like it when your husband acknowledges your efforts around the house? A sweet thank you when he noticed that the floors are shining! A thank you for that wonderfully 'I can see right through the glass' kind of clean door... after he tried to walk through it! Yeah, that clean! At least he noticed, right?!!! hehe. Anyway, a good example leads to good behavior. And good behavior exemplifies good manners. And because my children have been a good example of gratefulness, my three year old now leads the meal cheer! "One. Free. Five. Tank you Mommy." "One. Free. Five. I wudge you Mommy." And I am blessed. I will take a big and loud round of THANK YOU any day over ma'am and sir. I am grateful.
Thank you for reading.