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.
I’m trying to figure out if people actually read my blog…..so…
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