Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Polite

The world seems to be going to hell in a hand-basket. Shootings, explosions, vitriolic political sniping, domestic violence. What the heck is going on?

When I was a child, one of the things my parents drummed into me is “Be polite.” I’ll never forget how I learned to watch my tongue before rudeness erupted from it.

I was five years old. My dad worked for the Boy Scouts, so we had to spend a chunk of the summer in Boy Scout Camp. You can imagine how exciting that was for a five year old girl! Not to mention for my mom, who had to try to keep me occupied.

One day, the wife of one of the other Boy Scout executives came to visit with her baby. Poor baby wasn’t happy, and began to cry. Nothing seemed to soothe him. His mother said, “I’m so sorry he’s crying. I don’t know what’s wrong.”

I said, “Maybe you should take him home, then.”

While my mother stared at me in horror, the woman said, “Maybe I should,” and she packed him up and left.

Boy, did I get scolded! But the worst part was, my mother told me I had to go over to the woman’s cabin and apologize for being rude. Naturally, I wandered out to play and in short order, managed to forget I was supposed to apologize.

Evening came, dinner was over, I was in my pajamas. Mom asked me, “Did you go over to apologize?”

I’m sure I went white. I mumbled, “No, I didn’t.” She wouldn’t make me go in the dark, would she?

“You’ll have to go now, then,” she said firmly, in that voice that meant there would be no argument allowed.

So, bundled up in my bathrobe and slippers, I slunk over to the nearby cabin and knocked on the door. The woman came to the door and when I saw her, I started to cry. I was crying so hard, I could barely get out the words: “I’m…sob!…sorry…gasp!…I was…honk!…rude today.”

She and her husband were amazingly nice, bringing me into their cabin for a cup of cocoa and assuring me all was fine. It was quite an ordeal, but I survived it. BUT you better believe I learned my lesson and never, ever was that rude again.

So what does this have to do with the sorry state of the world?

I’m convinced if everyone used their best manners, was polite when dealing with friends and strangers alike, the world would be a much nicer, friendlier, safer place. So everyone, please dust off those manners and let’s make the world the way it ought to be: beautiful.

6 comments:

A.J Sendall said...

I completely agree, Liz. The lack of basic manners, respect, and politeness is what makes the world often less than pleasant now.

Elizabeth Delisi said...

All right, A.J.! That makes two of us. Anyone else want to jump on the band wagon?

Kim Cox said...

I totally agree, Liz! Life is hard enough without someone being intentionally mean. But at the age of five did you even know what you said wasn't nice? Perhaps you thought the child would be happier at home. I don't think I would have known what I said was mean at that age. I would have just thought I was being honest or even thoughtful.

Elizabeth Delisi said...

Oh, believe me Kim, my mother explained to me why it was rude. "You are a child, and children don't tell adults what to do." I'm sure I thought I was being quite smart with what I said, but my mom didn't let that impression last. ;-)

Christiane France - Author said...

Hear, hear, Liz. I agree. But I love what comes out of the mouths of kids. They can be so embarrassingly honest.

Elizabeth Delisi said...

So true. Wasn't it Art Linkletter who had kids on TV, and would always ask them, "What did your mother tell you not to tell me?" and as he titled his book, "Kids Say the Darndest Things." (dating myself!)