The simplest and most effective thing a person can do to be personable is to have good manners. My mom thought me manners and how to be a gentleman since I was a young child. I remember sitting at a table and being quizzed about which spoon, fork or knife, I was supposed to use for what dinner course. I think my mom put me through finishing school herself without me knowing it.
It is now my duty to teach those manners to my boys. I will admit I am not a dedicated as my mom was. I teach them how to be courteous, how to properly greet someone, how to open doors, how to help people, but we will still have a good chuckle over a fart. The problems my boys will face in today’s society have shifted. Not only are people slowly forgetting manners, but also how to receive them. At the same time being rude for some reason has become cool, which as punk rock as I was, I still don’t understand.
I remember my freshman year of college and me opening the door for a fellow female coed. The young woman snapped at me, “I can open my own doors!” I was so confused about what was going on. I was taught by a very strong, independent, well-mannered woman how to be a gentleman. Now out in the world, I was being reprimanded for being courteous. I still encounter it here and there; people not wanting help carrying something or the ever present “I got it.” So this is the world I have to prepare my boys to be gentlemen and personable in. We live in a world where one person might say thank you and smile and the next might snap at them as if they did something wrong.
I decided that even if they run into people chastising them for being well manner, I rather that be their flaw, instead of coming off as rude of crude. We work on how to greet someone and how to reply when they greet you. We work on opening doors for people and always being courteous. We work on letting people walk out of elevators instead of trying to push your way in as they are stepping out. We work on being polite and smile to people. We straddle that line of “stranger danger” and not coming across as antisocial or scared. We work on picking up after ourselves. We work on manners while we eat, especially closing out mouth when we chew.
That last one, closing our mouth while we chew, has always been a pet peeve of mine. Probably one ingrained in me by my mother. Now I have pounded into them and it yields some hilarious stories. The boys are always calling each other out if one takes even one chew with the mouth open. But the funny and mortifying stories come from school. There have been so many days Alonzo comes home angry and mortified over the horrendous chewing by his classmates during lunch. He tells me, and I can see the exasperation in his eyes. I listen to his story and I don’t know how I could endure it without telling the other kids to close their mouths. He gets so animated while telling me the horror story that I can help but to chuckle. The stories also tell me that they are way on their way to be good, personable and well-mannered men. I am sure their Abuela would be very proud.