Monday, January 25, 2010

Respect

Messers 6 and 4 waited excitedly but patiently on the concrete launching pad separating the rows of cars from one another. The fairly-busy-lots-of-the-time entrance lane was blessedly empty as I watched through the wall of windows in the gym's lobby.

Amster caught up with them as Mr. 4 was leaping into his brother, his Globe-bought cowboy boots propelling him to ever greater heights. They each grabbed a hand and skipped across the road and came to the really-heavy-and-hard-to-open door. Mr. 6 struggled mightily, pulling with all his strength, and managed to get it open.Then,to my horror, he slid through the opening he'd created and ran towards Kids' Club.

Big mistake.

First he had to get past me. And I was pissed. Amster is the woman I admire most here in Tucson, and her son had just treated her rudely. This would not stand.

Once all 4 of us were together, I asked the boys if they knew what we were? "A group of ladies and gentlemen" I told them, and we treat each other as such. I was proud of his strength, but Mr. 6 had disrespected his mother, leaving her to her own devices with something that he had already accomplished. And he knew that that accomplishment was not without cost; had the door been opened for him he'd have been at Kids' Club even sooner.

Did he know that the Big Cuter always held doors for me? That got his attention; the Big Cuter owns all those Legos and Construx and dinosaurs that live in my house. He occupies a very special place in their Pantheon of Amazing Humans.

Holding a door told other people that you were a well-mannered person, I went on. It was also an easy way to garner a compliment. I know that compliments are highly potentiated experiences for them, and so did Mr. 6 because, unsurprisingly, he smiled at me (eye contact is another one of my things) and ran off to play. Conversation over. As the Cuters would tell me, "Enough already, MOM!!" With love, but said nonetheless. All that was in the smile.

After our workout, gathering the kids from Kids' Club and our keys from the mini-lockers in the lobby we arrived at those same big front doors. And there was Mr. 4, all 44 pounds of him, pushing with his entire body and opening the door. He couldn't reach the way-over-his-head-handle so his little fingerprints were embedded in the glass as he inched it more and more open. Then he looked under his armpit and said "You can go through now." And we did.

After the hugs and the hair ruffling and the so proud's were sent his way, I began to think about the little losses which add up to the changing world. Nursery Rhymes, for example. The Tales of The Brothers Grimm. Aesop's Fables. And, sadly, manners.

Were they a victim of the women's movement? I gave up my bra early on (admittedly, not a huge issue), but I've always seen feminism as an opening of doors rather than a lessening of requirements. (Both double entendres were intended.) Manners make the world go 'round, after all. Otherwise, we'd all be pushing and shoving out of the elevator, crushing Granny in our wake.

I spent the rest of Saturday and most of Sunday in a funk about the younger generation's ability to recognize that someone else in the world might just possibly be as important as each one of them obviously is ..... and then I watched Pierre Garcon in his post-game interview.

On his way to the Super Bowl, with 11 receptions for 151 yards and 1 touchdown (if you don't follow football, just insert "had a great game"), he was absurdly attired in a white plastic hard hat. There was no AFC CHAMPIONSHIP logo on this hard hat, though it had been earned. There was no team logo nor abstract design or obscure cultural reference. In block capital letters it said Reggie Wayne Construction.

In answer to the first question, instead of tooting his own horn, instead of explaining how he'd been wonderful, he went straight to thanking Reggie Wayne. Thanked the veteran on behalf of all the Indianapolis wide receivers for being unselfish, for teaching, for leading by example, and for being so talented that the defense had to concentrate on stopping him. All of which combined to make the youngsters better.

And then I understood the wording on the hard hat. Pierre Garcon and all the other wide receivers were the results of a building project managed by Reggie Wayne. And they were proud to be a part of that project. They had been given a gift and they were happy to say thank you. And they knew enough to say thank you.

It made me feel a lot better about kids in general.

3 comments:

  1. This is a beautiful post. I especially love the description of Mr.4 opening the door...perfect; I could SEE it. On behalf of all the Grannies out there, I thank you for working hard to raise your boys (of all ages) to be civil-ians.

    Hey, I just noticed how similar our blog- aesthetics look! Did I unconsciously copy your ambiance? I was just trying to photoshop my wrinkles! I hope you'll agree that the "imitation is the highest flattery" rule applies.

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  2. Despite being a middle-aged guy, I was touched by your post. Perhaps because I'm a middle-aged guy, I was touched more by the Reggie Wayne tribute than I was by the earlier part involving young gentlemen-in-training. Or at least, as a teacher of twenty-somethings, I found the second half more surprising and more heartening. Don't get me wrong; I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for my students. I just find their training in civility to be......deficient.

    But then, I still open doors. AND insist on walking next to the traffic, which makes most of my female friends shake their heads in confusion. Blame it on my mom.

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  3. Ah, Jack, your Mom is proud of you! This is know as a fact, being a proud mother of a young gentleman myself.

    I know just what you mean about being surprised. I try to reinforce courtesies with "Be sure to thank your grown-ups... they did a good job!" and I'm invariably rewarded with a comment including the mention of a mother.

    So, YES, I will happily blame (?congratulate?) your mother -- she did good!

    Thanks for reading.
    a/b

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