Mini Manners

A part of responsible parenting is ensuring that your offspring learn the nuances of a considerate citizen so that – when they are older - they perform all of those courteous little acts that our society expects. In short: manners. 

We do it is so that our kids will be accepted as polite individuals and not be outcast as someone who burps the alphabet in public or gargles custard at dinner parties. 

And so we responsible mums and dads spend a large portion of our kids’ upbringing trying to teach them some manners:

“Say please!”
“Say thank you!”
“Say hello.”
“Say goodbye.”
“Say pardon.”
“Don’t talk when I’m talking.”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full.”
“Don’t play with your fork.”
“Don’t stab the table with the fork.”
“Don’t stab your head with the fork.”
“Don’t stab your brother with the fork.”
“Don’t blow bubbles in your milk.”
“Get your fingers out of the milk.”
“Get your fingers out of your mouth.”
“Get your fingers out of your nose.”
“Get your fingers out of your pants.”

And so it goes.

As an adult, if we stare at someone’s boobs while dribbling slightly or fish a marvellously large booger out of our nose and present it to a stranger for a score out of ten, it isn’t well taken, is it? We get a little black mark against us in the mind of the boob owner/booger audience. Or maybe a restraining order.

But if little kids do it? It’s a bit funny. 

Well, most of the time.

On one such occasion I was on a bus with Zane when he was only 6 months old; he was on my lap having a brilliant time, being in a big moving box on wheels full of massive windows with a fascinating world passing by through all of them.

And then he discovered the hair.

A woman sitting in front of us had a marvellous mane of long blonde hair that cascaded down on our side of the back of her seat. It was something that I had naturally noticed but an appreciative glance was all that I gave it. I certainly did not gently fondle it in amazement - society and probably several laws do not condone that sort of activity.

But Zane did.

I didn’t notice him doing it at first so he was softly bothering this lass’ locks for a good 30 seconds before I quietly stopped him doing it, hoping the long locked lady hadn’t noticed. The moment I took his hands away the woman looked around at me, her face a picture of stern disapproval. Surely she didn’t think it was me? 

I smiled and gestured to my incredibly cute boy and apologised. For him. 

I don’t think she bought it. 

One of the more humorous breaches of etiquette was during a recent visit to interstate friends. As we pulled up in their driveway, our friends greeted us and so began the hellos and hugs and handshakes that generally occurs when friends meet up. 

And according to custom, even Zane got out of the car and enthusiastically greeted our guests.

But Beau failed on all formality fronts. 

He had not even been to the house before and yet the instant he was released from his car seat restraints he sprung out like a cat on Red Bull, bolted through the legs of our guests and into the open front door of the house. We all peered quizzically at the doorway wondering what the hell he was doing. 

Moments later Beau reappeared with what looked like relief on his face and a large yellow Tonka truck. It seemed that there was no way he was staying somewhere that didn’t have an over-sized toy vehicle on the premises.

At four years old, Zane is not quite yet a shining beacon of protocol perfection. I took the boys to a friend’s house one hot afternoon to cool off in their pool. During the course of our splashing about Zane announced that he had to go to the toilet; as I had done before in the same situation I told Zane to go on the lawn so he didn’t run through the house in wet clothes. 

And why not? We males are made to pee anywhere. While I couldn’t pee under a tree in public I enjoyed that fact that I could instruct Zane to without any social repercussions.

So Zane got out of the pool and dashed over to a patch of grass. I looked over at him a less than a minute later to ensure he was following my instruction. He was following it perfectly, however there had been a misunderstanding: he was in the middle of our friend’s newly turfed lawn, his swimmers cast aside and squatting as he squeezed out a turd the size of New Zealand.

I meekly apologised to our host before I went to fetch a New Zealand-sized plastic bag as our host’s laughter rang out around the pool.

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