“Don’t call me sir. That’s my father. You can call me Gary*.” The sales associate looked at my twelve year old girl with a patronizing grin.
“Yes, sir. I mean…sorry.” My daughter stumbled.
My daughter, out of habit, continued to use the manners she’s been taught since infancy. The associate continued to correct her in different ways. She felt uncomfortable and embarrassed.
Momma Bear had enough. I was madder than a wet hen. “Look. It’s part of our southern roots. It’s part of what she’s been taught, and she can’t just turn-off a habit. It’s our way of demonstrating respect. She’s going to say sir,” I said with all the saccharine I could muster.
Then came the patronizing chuckle.
You know those movies? The ones where the character freezes time and imagines reaching across the table or the counter to choke the passive aggressive person? I’m not saying the thought crossed my mind. I’m just saying I know those movies.
Bless his passive aggressive little heart.
We made our purchase; I smiled sweetly and thanked him for his time. Now who’s passive aggressive? See what he made me do?
Here’s the thing. Not everyone is southern. And saying yes ma’am or yes sir is not the only way to demonstrate respect. I understand different areas and even cultures have manners that vary. I don’t require ma’am or sir from anyone other than my own children. A simple yes or no is fine.
What got my goat was the man corrected my daughter for attempting to demonstrate respect and manners. She wasn’t being disrespectful. She wasn’t being rude. And yet, he continued to harp.
Seems a little backwards to me. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
Some might say my daughter was being rude since she didn’t accommodate his request. I see your point. I do. But the thing about manners? As parents, we work to ingrain them deeply into our children from an early age. Our hope is those manners become rooted in habit. Habit that would take strong effort to curb. The point is, my daughter can’t just stop using them.
If my child is being rude? Disrespectful? Disobedient? Acting as wild as a June bug on a string? By all means. You have my full permission to correct.
But to correct my child for using manners you’re unaccustomed to? Well. You just might be too big for your britches.
*Gary’s name has been changed. Not to protect him, but because I couldn’t remember it. I mean. I have bigger fish to fry. Y’all know what I’m talkin’ about.