Bad Manners At Taco Bell

My youngest son has a good friend with terrible manners.  He’s a nice 14 year old boy, kind and generous to  a fault, but this kid almost seems proud of his bad manners.

After I spent twenty dollars at Taco Bell for fried chicken tacos, quesadillas and tacos made out of Doritos, Sandor said, “Thanks Mom, that was awesome.”

Then he shoved his friend, Jake.  “Say thank you, chicken butt!”

Jake shoved back”What ever.”

I’m pretty sure I sighed and rolled my eyes.  We’d been through this before. “Alright Jake, I’m not unlocking the car and were gonna stand here in the parking lot until you say thank you.”

He smiled at me, his shaggy hair nearly covering his eyes. Then he looked at the ground and mumbled something I literally couldn’t understand.

“Nope,” I smiled at him. I was playing hardball. “Not good enough.”

Sandor didn’t even mind me calling his friend out.  Jake’s terrible manners made him a little crazy.

Finally, Jake looked at me. I didn’t know if he was gonna flip me off or say something nice. “Thanks for the food.”

“Perfect,” I said as I gave Jake a big bear hug.

We have a serious rule in our world about good manners. Sandor is the youngest of four and the rule is pretty well etched in stone. If you are rude or disrespectful, you can’t come over. But I understand some parents don’t have the same obsession, so if I like the kid, and I like Jake a bunch, I try to work with them. I figure it’s “my house my rules.” And when Sandor goes to hang at a friends house, their parents get to make the rules.

Once everyone was buckled up I turned off the radio.  “Jake, good manners will make your life way easier.”

“How? My friends like me for my jokes, they don’t care.”

Sandor said, “Dude, you’re not that funny.”

Jake and I both ignored the comment. “Here’s the deal Jake, if you have good manners teachers will like you more. That’s makes your life better. If you have good manners parents like you more. Then you get invited to go to more cool places. Cause in the end it’s my call, not Sandor’s, who we invite over or take to the movies or laser tag or whatever.”

“Yeah, we took Sam to Florida with us because he had good manners,” Sandor added.

“And think about this,” I was on a roll with a class A lecture. “If you get pulled over by the police, and you will get pulled over and you have good manners there’s a way better chance he’ll let you off with a warning. If you’re a punk with bad manners he’s gonna definitely give you a ticket.”

At that point I made myself stop, even though I wanted to keep on going. I was on a roll. I turned up the radio and let the boys ignore me for a while. But I was still thinking.  It’s easy to teach good manners if you start when your child is young. Then people praise them for having good manners and the circle starts rolling.  But once a kid turns into a teenager it get’s tougher.  They resist. Jake almost seems to think good manners make him seem weak.

Maybe if we explain how good manners can benefit them, kids will understand. Maybe.

I got out of the car to let Jake out at his house. He was about to climb out of the back seat when I said, “Thanks for coming over, Jake.”

He stopped. He knew it was a trap. Then Sandor leaned over and whispered something to him. Jake got out of the car and mumbled, “Thanks for having me over.”

Then he gave me another sheepish smile and a hug.

Now, if I can just get my son to stop burping like a monster in front of me.

Jpeg

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Five Things You Have To Teach Your Kids…Or Go To Jail

badA few days ago I asked my daughter had to sew a do-dad shiny thing on my shirt. All she had to do was a few quick loops and it would be done. When I put my shirt something was very very wrong. She actually sewed the front of the shirt to the back. I had to cut my way  out.

There are life skills you have to teach your kids or you should go to jail.

1.I preach the importance of teaching your kid to shake hands like a man all the time. So you know that.  If your child doesn’t know how to make eye contact and say, “nice to meet you” everyone will assume he’s a pathetic loser. Life is tough and judgmental like that.

2. Make sure you teach your children how to sew a button on a shirt. If they can do that, they’ll figure the rest out.

3. Teach your kids, boys and girls, how to throw a ball without looking like a dweeb.

4. You have to teach them to swim and ride a bike because once they get old it’s almost impossible to overcome the fear of drowning and falling. Kids are stupid and brave, they’ll do anything if you tell them they can.  They have faith in you and believe in magic so take care of bike riding and swimming before they are five.

5. And finally teach your kid how to use a knife and fork properly and how to set a table. The other day a 10th grade boy came to our house and we all sat staring,  stunned as he tried, unsuccessfully to cut his meat…and it wasn’t that tough. Finally he managed to cut a strip off then he just nibbled it off the fork. It was painful to watch.

There are some kids I don’t invite to go out to dinner with us because it’s embarrassing and they are too old to help.  They eat like animals because nobody took the time to teach them how to use a knife and fork.  They don’t have bad manners, they simply don’t have any manners at all. It’s sad and bizarre. Be a good parent, take the time, don’t loose your patience and teach your children the stuff they need to know. You can’t expect football coaches to teach them everything.

When You’re Mean To Your Mom

mean teenKids and teenagers you might not realize this but when you are ugly and mean to your mother, everyone (the general population) thinks you are a punk….without exception.

Here’s what happens.  When I worked at a boarding school I was on a committee to help choose the “Community Leaders”.  It was a big deal and roughly 100 kids applied for the 25 spots.  A beautiful and smart young lady applied. She had a 4.0, she was a cheer leader, she was the president of several clubs and she was a minority (we really needed some minority kids to be leaders) so she was a great looking applicant.  But several of those on the committee, students and staff, had watched the way she treated her Daddy when he came to visit. His name was Levon, He was a hard working, blue collar widower who worshiped his daughter. But she treated him like bear poop. She was rude, condescending, snarky and bitchy to this sweet old man. This was brought up during discussion and her file was tossed. People had been watching and knew what kind of person she really was.

Recently I mentioned to my seventeen year old daughter that I ran into her friend, Heather, at Wal-Mart. I said we had a really nice conversation in the produce isle.  But my daughter shook her head and said, “I know, right? She’s so sweet and cool to everybody at school but she treats her mom so mean. And her mom does EVERYTHING to help her. It’s crazy. She gripes and yells at her mom in front of people all the time. ”

And guys, did you know one of the first questions everyone in the family asks after you’ve taken one of my daughters out…..”How does he treat his mom?” If he isn’t sweet, if he doesn’t love on his mom, if he doesn’t give her hugs and love….you’re on the list. Because we all know you will treat our daughters the same way you treat or mom. With respect or like a punk ass jerk.

When eleven year old boys want to come to our house they are always sweet and polite to me, but then, when I find out they treat their moms as though they were indentured servants…well, that’s not the kid I want to take to Magic Springs. What if his behavior and attitude rub off on my kid.

So kids, 8-30, now you know. You will be judged by the way you treat you moms. If being rude to her makes you feel more important and more grown up, understand it’s actually  making you look  small, weak and and pathetic.

Now go hug your mom.