When I was a small child, my mother, greatly urged, I’m sure, by my father’s mother, made quite sure that I had manners. Sure, my four-year-old brain may have interpreted “Only speak when spoken to” a bit too literally, perhaps, as I was a very quiet child.
My dad’s side of the family is notorious for being hot-headed and temperamental. When it became clear that I had, at least to some degree, inherited his temper, I was immediately taught not to swear. This was drilled into my head such that, at the tender age of eight, after my six year old sister caused me to lose my last life playing Super Mario Bros., I threw down the controller, turned to her, screamed, “BASTARD!” …. and then immediately ran for my life.
I hid in the dark between my bed and the wall while my mom kept saying things like, “I don’t know what happened to my sweet little girl.”
By the age of nine, I was answering the phone saying, “Hello, _________ residence. Renee speaking. How may I help you?”
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” — The Golden Rule — was enforced at Sunday School (dad’s church), as well as CCD classes (mom’s church). Yes, adding to my education in manners was a double-dose of weekly religious education.
“Always offer to help your friends’ mothers if you’re staying for dinner.”
“Always shut the water off while you’re soaping up your hair if you’re showering at someone else’s house.”
“Always remember to thank your host.”
And always, always, always, ALWAYS remember to say “please” and “thank you.”