gra·cious Pronunciation: \ˈgrā-shəs\ Function: adjective Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French gracieus, from Latin gratiosus enjoying favor, agreeable, from gratia Date: 14th century
a : marked by kindness and courtesy b : graceful c : marked by tact and delicacy : urbane d : characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit, and the tasteful leisure of wealth and good breeding(Merriam Webster Online)
I am pretty sure it gets on the grandparent's last nerve. I am the manners police. Every action demands a "please," "thank you so much" or "excuse me." If I don't hear it, all conversation stops until I hear it. As much as I am trying to make it an action without a thought in my children, it has become an action without thought to me. I catch myself doing it to other people's children, which is as horrifying as it sounds. Believe me when I say I could not care less about your child's manners or lack thereof. It's just that I am so used to saying it that it comes out before I think.
It is clear that being gracious is a value that is important to me. I find myself frustrated with the trend of entitlement that our generation seems to be moving toward. If you think that everything is owed to you, you tend to be less likely to feel thankful for the good things you have.
The thing is, I think there is a big difference between being gracious and having gratitude. Gratitude is defined by WordNetWeb as "a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation." I cannot force my children to feel thankful or appreciative. But I do believe that by practicing the act of being gracious can be training for gratitude. If you say "thank you," odds are better that you will actually feel thankful than if you don't say anything at all.
I have noticed that the manners policing is finally kicking in with my kids. Rumor on the street is that they pull out the manners when they are elsewhere. I'm also seeing that they seem to actually mean it sometimes when they say "thank you." I think that is all that you can ask for as a parent. What do you think?
Yesterday we went on a walk to the gate at the end of our road. Harrison came with us so it was me and the four boys. I was enjoying the cool weather by not wearing a coat in 53 degree weather. Believe me, it sounded like a good idea at the time. Even wearing a toaster oven baby on my back, I was over the spontaneous diversions off the road about 1/3 of the way into our journey and I could no longer feel my fingers.
Ethan: Look!!! It's our neighbor!!!
He and Harrison raced off on their scooters down the middle of the road screaming "HELLO" to eighty-year-old Annie who was slowly pushing her walker seat in front of her. She turned around to stare at the craziness. I called the boys back the 1/4 mile to me.
Kristen: Boys. That is rude to yell "HELLO" from a million miles away.
Ethan: Well, what are we supposed to do?
Kristen: You need to wait until you are near her so she doesn't have to strain to hear you. You should get off your scooter when you get close to her and say, "Hello. How are you today?"
Harrison: We can do that, Miss Kristen.
They rode off again and there was in incident involving someone nearly taking Annie off her feet but they followed my instructions for the most part. I really don't think they mean to act like savages. I caught up to them about three minutes later as they were showing Annie their complicated scooter moves that made her gasp in horror. I suddenly envisioned having to call 911 because she had a heart attack.
Kristen: They are a little crazy. I'm sorry.
Annie: Three boys. God bless you. And they don't look anything like you. But they are very well-behaved.
No. No, they don't. And yes, they are. Sometimes.