at the playgroundRecently I read a blurb from Liv Tyler where she spoke about one of the best lessons her grandmother (who happens to be one of the leading experts on modern manners) ever taught her. She said her grandmother didn’t like the reply, “no problem” in response to a thank you. She suggests saying, “my pleasure” or “you are welcome”.

I had never even considered the phrase “no problem” being even remotely rude, but I imagine it does seem a bit dismissive of the gesture of thank you. Such a small thing to think about, a small idiom to self correct. When it comes to decorum I suppose we never stop learning.

I know some may consider me pretty old-fashioned when it comes to manners and my expectations for W out in the world. “Old fashioned” is actually not a bad thing as far as I am concerned. My hope is for W to be kind and respectful in the way he behaves, the way he speaks, and the way he is helpful.

You have probably guessed where this is going, right? Three weeks ago W embarked on his most profound adventure to date: kindergarten. Every day I have been sending him to school and it is there he has a collision with other people’s manners. Suddenly my kid comes home with phraseology that is unfamiliar or retorts like, “_____ doesn’t have to _______!”

I’m the square. I know it, I embrace it. I am also not an idiot and do not presume to think I can control my kid (or other kids). Farts happen, belches happen, inappropriate behavior happens. But you can’t bring it home with you.

Instead I have started explaining the emotion behind courtesy more and more. To his core W is a kind boy and showing him the kindness of a phrase like “thank you” is helpful. When we arrive at school in the morning I make an extra to-do over opening the first door for him and he always enjoys it so much he reaches forward to open the door for me, and anyone else behind him.

When I kiss W goodbye I tell him, “I love you. Be kind and learn EVERYTHING!”

I am rooting for the kindness within other children as well.

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