While Bill and I are both fully aware that our children are no saints, by a LONG shot, we've been told by some that the kids are actually pretty well behaved when we let them out of their cages to roam within view of the public eye. But we still hammer the kids on a daily basis about their manners.
Megan is pretty good about this. She remembers her please's and thank you's, covers her mouth when she sneezes and coughs, uses a napkin when eating, and is pretty good about being considerate of others. (Although she definitely has a bossy side that we are trying to tame...)
Matt is the tough one. On a good day, he'll remember to cover his mouth when he sneezes. But on an off day, when he just feels like getting under our skin, he'll quite blatantly refuse to do so. Those off days tend to occur more frequently than the on days.
Although we'll probably still be lecturing the kids about these things when they're 27, it's nice to know that some of the things we've taught them do actually sink in occassionally. However, we seldom reap the rewards of our efforts. Maybe because we are just Mom and Dad and are undeserving of routine manners in the eyes of our 5 and 3 year olds. (Oh wait - the 15 year old is pretty much the same too!) (Robert - you're off the hook on this one.) But Wendy, our babysitter, will sometimes tell me when the kids have gone out of their way to be kind.
Last year, when Megan was still going to daycare a few days every week, Wendy was telling me how demanding her kids can be. (By "her kids", I mean the kids in her care.) While the other kids were forgetting or neglecting to use any manners, she informed me that it was refreshing to hear Megan politely ask for things that she wanted.
Because Megan was standing there when she told me this, I used that opportunity to prove our point to her about how nice manners can be, how good it made the other person feel and how manners will get you so much further in life. And she gets it. That's just how Megan is. I just have to remember to not take that for granted with her.
Matthew, being the terror that he is, has us believing that he is the exact opposite of his sister. Well Wendy has once again proven to us that we must be doing something right. She told me the other day that she had walked into the room with kids everywhere and commented about having no place to sit. Matt proceeded to jump off of his chair and said, "Here Wendy. You can have my seat." She said it brought tears to her eyes and as she told me the story, I could feel the same thing happening to me. I've always called him my little man and when he does things like this, it gives me glimpses into the wonderful man that he will grow up to be.
Robert, you've got a lot to live up to baby boy! But lucky you, we'll be hounding you about these pesky manners just as hard!