This is a conversation that occurs quite a bit in our family life:
“Thank you so much.”
Oh, OK. For what, Ma’am?”
“For raising kids with manners. It’s pretty hard to find kids like that these days.”
As we checked out of the grocery store, the cashier pretty much shocked me with this conversation. She seemed to be very appreciative of my two oldest kids. They’d chatted her up while I put the groceries on the belt, and as usual, my kids wouldn’t let her off easy with small talk.
The talked about everything, from their new little brother, to what they’re learning in school and why she was working at the grocery store during the day and not at night. Completely random, yet lovely conversation. They were my usual kids. But what I always forget is the fact that they say “Yes Ma’am” or Yes Sir,” and “No Ma’am” or “No Sir.” I hardly hear it anymore, and I forget that it’s such a rarity, especially in Central New Jersey.
Every once in a while, my husband and I get pulled aside and thanked for the work that we’ve done with our kids. Work? If only it was that pre-meditated. The real reason our kids call their elders Ma’am and Sir is pretty simple. It’s out of respect.
Before I graduated from military training, the idea of saying Yes Ma’am was constantly drilled into me. I had to say it about 700 times a day, and it was such a pain in my butt to do at first. I hated it. I also had an attitude problem. That one little requirement changed me around. I needed to respect those that were in charge, that I have never met or interacted with, and I needed to address them properly. It was life-changing.
When it comes to my husband’s upbringing, he was taught to say Yes Ma’am or Sir since he was itty bitty. It was not an option. He comes from a family that is well- respected in their community, and would always return that respect to others. During one of our first conversations, my husband made a point of saying that his children would learn to say Yes Ma’am/Sir to their elders, and it would start right with their mom and dad. Besides finding that kind of talk extremely attractive (ahem), I really admired how adamant he was about the subject. I got it. And I wholeheartedly agreed.
So, that’s all. Our children respect every person they meet by addressing them the way they should always be addressed. If that’s some sort of big deal, then we’ll let it be. In the mean time, don’t be surprised if a Yes Ma’am or Sir comes out of my kids mouths. That just means they appreciate your conversation. Don’t worry; once we get home, they’ll run around the house screaming like any other kid. That’s how we get down.