The other night, Mister Man and I were eating dinner together. Little Miss and my husband were somewhere else, so it was just the two of us. Me being me (umm duh? Who else would I be?), I decided to use the opportunity to talk about manners.
Mister Man and I discussed some good manners and some bad manners, and we had fun practicing examples of both. It was a fun way of teaching him, and I’m hoping some of it sunk in a little. As we continued our conversation about why we have manners and why certain things are considered good or bad manners, I asked him who he thought invented manners. He looked at me somewhat confused, and I clarified.
Well, Sweetie, who do you think made manners? Was it men or women? Maybe a mommy? A daddy? What do you think?
Oh, his face cleared, and he spoke confidently. It was definitely a man who invented manners.
Really? I choked on my words, knowing who in my family is the one with the better manners.
Yes. The President is the one who makes the manners and the rules for them, he declared.
Oh, I see. So before America was founded, manners didn’t exist? I probed.
Welllllll, he dithered, but only momentarily. There were some manners before our country was founded, but it wasn’t until ohhhh the sixteenth president that we really had real manners.
No? I asked, my curiosity piqued. We didn’t have manners until the sixteenth president? What about before then?
Well, I suppose that there were some manners before then. George Washington definitely started it. But it wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln that we really had real manners. He’s the one who really made us all have manners, you know.
I see, I said, nodding slowly. The light was slowly beginning to dawn. Just to be sure … So Mister Man, what is it that Abraham Lincoln did to make manners?
Mommy, he’s the one who freed the slaves and made all people equal. We didn’t really have manners until then. You should know that, he looked crossly at me.
Of course. Sometimes, however, it takes the innocence of a child to point out such wisdom to me. And to think… he’s only seven.