Sunday, May 19, 2024 May 19, 2024
87° F Dallas, TX
Advertisement
Cover Story

119 Reasons Why We Love Dallas – No. 1

|
Image

Because We Have Manners


Image
When my daughter was nearly 2, she went to a weekly music class. she and six other tiny people sang and played triangles and ratcheted ratchets. They danced in circles and pretended to be jungle animals. They did a lot of dancing with Miss Ellen, a middle-aged saint in a pageboy haircut and plaid shirt. One of the other children had just started walking, I remember. She couldn’t say much, mostly yeses and nos. But every time she said one of the words, her mother would follow with a “Yes, please” or a “No, thank you.”  It didn’t matter if the child repeated the please or thank you. It was enough that she heard it. By the end of the class, I was saying “Please” and “Thank you” to strangers in parking lots, even if they weren’t talking to me; the training had that kind of impact.

Now my kids will get a detention if they do not say “ma’am” or “sir” when addressing their teachers in middle school. I do not make them say “ma’am” at home, though they sometimes say it to be funny, given my New York heritage. Up north, we were taught to be respectful and courteous, but we did not have to use the words. Here, you have to use the words. I think that the words are good. I think they are more than simple formality. They keep kids aware that they are having a conversation with another human being, instead of mumbling or looking at their feet. And having conversations with other human beings is, after all, the basis for interaction, and everything that happens afterward, which can be a lot.

I love the please and thank you about this place, and the ma’am and sir. I love that Miss Ellen crawled on the floor like a crocodile, then shook the boys’ hands on the way out. I love the time spent ensuring there is both and, mostly, that my kids will take the words, and all that is behind them, wherever they might go.


Advertisement