I've picked up a partial series of books that I saw at Brooks Brothers. Now, before you take that too far, I was there with friends, and no, I didn't buy anything. But I did see these blue bound books with gilt lettering. They were all about manners and etiquette. At first, I looked at them, rolled my eyes and thought, "what a waste of time and paper, I'm sure THIS would be some quality reading for some blue blood.“ So I picked one up just to see what the upper crust is taught in their rich little prep schools. "THIS oughta be a good one, 'A Gentleman Gets Dressed' what a bunch of...wait, really? You can tie a tie, THAT way? Button down collars came from where? For real? Oh, hey that's a good idea, so THAT'S what those are there for...hey, this book is pretty cool!"
I looked at several more and decided they were all worthwhile reading, and not only that, but things I want to pass on to my boys. Its not the "rich kid etiquette" I thought it would be, it is a classical education in what it really means to be a young gentlemen in an age when these concepts are being lost in a world of at best, professional feminism and certainly worse, just plain apathy for common courtesy afforded to your fellow man. I want my children to be at ease being courteous, for manners not to be starchy facade, but conducting yourself out of genuine care and respect for others. That is the premise of these books. Sure, there's some elements of prim and proper in them, but the more I think about it, and the more I take a look around the society we live in, maybe a little dose of prim and proper is needed. PNot overdone, ever, just for someone to observe my children and think "wow, I haven't seen/heard that in years from someone so young."
More than that, I want our children, as they grow older, to be comfortable in situations where proper manners are required. You see kids go out for some formal dinner, and it's obvious they've never worn anything like this and had to eat anything like that, without doing whatever it is they normally do. It's kinda like watching a colt try to walk in high heels.
I want our children to be comfortable enough in those situations so as not to draw attention to themselves. There's so many scenarios I could draw here, but the point is....manners and etiquette, as much as I hate to admit it, are very important, they have their time and place. I've been around people who are too prim and proper, and its uncomfortable, I can't be me around them, and I've learned in these books that a true gentlemen or lady would never make someone feel that way. I hope that people see us as a family where manners are governed by love and respect, not that we are the most well behaved...ick, but that we have learned self-control and order because we genuinely care for our fellow man.
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