Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 1999

ANNA MONICA / L’Observateur / September 1, 1999

Perhaps many of you came up like I did, in the “or else” generation. In otherwords, when it came to authority – parental, church, school or otherwise – we submitted “or else.” The threat of “or else” had its way of looming menacinglyover us and keeping us in line. Adults always, always got respect. That wastaught to us at home as soon as we were old enough to take ourselves to the potty.

No doubt the world is different now. It will also be different 10 years from nowand very different in 20 years. We wouldn’t want to stop evolving, to have moreadvanced technology, more medical cures and treatments to alleviate pain, and so on. I’m glad I live now and not long ago. Opportunities abound everywhere ifyou want them and will work toward your goals. There is absolutely no reason tonot move forward if you so desire.

In my mind, though, we are not necessarily moving in the right directions in all things. It simply escapes me why the government has to mandate the manners ofschool children. This “yes” or “no ma’am” or “sir” business really grabs myattention. As I’ve said, times are different, but there are some basics that willnever change, regardless of the century we live in. Good manners, showingrespect, is one of them. Manners are never debatable and, really, never are out ofstyle. So what has happened?We probably wouldn’t like it if we were told how many children we could have, or what kind of career they must be trained for, or that they had to go to a school selected by the government. Yet, little by little, decisions such as whattime young people need to be off the streets at night are made for parents and enforced by the law. How far, really, has our modern world and its opportunitiestaken us? Why are we not training our own children without mandates from the Legislature.

As adults, yes, we need to earn the respect of others; as children, respect for others needs to be taught, and the “yes ma’am or no sir” concept is crucial. Tome, a polite “yes” or “no” is also acceptable, but in a respectable tone.

In a conversation with a real good friend recently, she readily admitted that she had not taught that concept to her two girls. She really couldn’t say why. Thegirls, though, are respectful, regardless.

There is some good training still going on, however. In church last week a ladygot up from her seat and took her two restless children outside. When she cameback, I whispered to her that we had a “cry room.” She thanked me and said thatyes, she knew that, but in there they only ran rampant and she was trying to teach them how to behave in church. Their little dog was waiting patientlyoutside of church, looking into the side window and dutifully went with them when called. I said, “gee, it listens.” She said, “Yes, she’s the only one.” But, yousee, she was teaching her children. The dog had already learned its lesson. Idrove to her house and found out the lady was Cheryl Pursell and the children were Jacob and India.

Jeffrey, Cheryl and family moved to Garyville from Metairie not too long ago, looking for a gentler place to raise their family, and they firmly believe in teaching manners. The dog’s name is Patches.In the market the other day I had the good fortune to meet the Sparcellas.

Zachary was commenting and asking questions about the logo on my shirt (an Italian one). He introduced me to his brother, Dominick, sitting in the basket,and his mother, Theresa. We chatted. He and Dominick were really nice kids,respectful and not afraid to speak, courteously, to a stranger with their mother present.

Leaving the store I encountered little Joseph Brown III attached his mother’s arm with a child’s leash. He had plenty leeway, but still she was admonishinghim. “I’m trying to teach him,” Joyce Brown said to me. I didn’t ask, but since allthe kids I mentioned were being taught something, I’ll just bet that when they get to school, they won’t need a government mandate to help them show respect to adults.

Yes, sir, I’ll just bet that!

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