September 29, 2012

miss manners

I wholeheartedly believe in instilling proper manners in my daughters. I am a big fan of both 'please' and 'thank you', and believe that there is nothing sweeter than a child with nice, genuinely good manners. I like to think that Lady M even remembers to say these little pleasantries without prompting when I'm not around.

When I moved to Sweden for school I was completely taken aback when I learned that there is no direct translation for the word 'please' in the Swedish language. WHAT?! It was one of the first words, after 'hello' (hej), 'goodbye' (hejdo) and 'thank you' (tack) that I felt I had to learn in my newly acquired home. So, imagine my surprise when I learned this news. How would I communicate? How would I express my manners to people I came in contact with?

Well, I supposed I could hold doors for people when entering or exiting a room or building, right? That was a nice idea, in theory. In fact, Swedes find it rude when you hold the door for them because somehow you are robbing them of their general life liberties. So, I couldn't say 'please', I couldn't hold doors...what was left?! Well, traveling to countries where manners were valued, and not stressing about it when I was in Sweden, that's what was left. And that's how I dealt with it.

In any case, back to present day. Tonight Lady M and I went to the Pita Pit to pick up some dinner. It was a no-cooking-kind-of-night, and the pitas just across the road beckoned. Off we went, and we worked our way along the counter, placing our order, then selecting our vegetables, cheese and sauce. Lady M indicated each of her desired toppings, then politely said "thank you" to the young girl behind the counter. The Pita Pit girl didn't hear her, so Lady M politely said it again. "Thank you!" came her sweet little voice, but because of the glass separating them, and her sometimes rather soft voice, she couldn't be heard.

She tried one last polite little time to say thank you to the kind girl who had loaded the peppers, cucumbers and cheese into her whole wheat pita, and kindly put the tzatziki in a little container on the side, to no avail. Apparently she didn't like the fact that she didn't get a response because the next thing I heard out of her well mannered little voice, was "HEY LADY! I SAID THANK YOU!"

I almost fell over. The girl seemed to look up and giggle a little, but I'm not totally sure whether she heard that comment either. But, I did my best to contain my laughter while letting Lady M know that she really didn't need to say something like that. Just one thank you would do the trick.

So, perhaps you can go a little too far with the whole manners thing, but I still believe in them. And I want my girls to believe in them too...we'll just have to work on when to stop saying thank you.

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