It was interesting to see the recent article about the rise of “finishing school” classes for modern-day kids. Apparently some of them are so lacking in old-fashioned manners they are being taught it by professionals. One would hope that we can impart such lessons to our own children by example, but alas it may be I need to send my boys to finishing school also.
Take for example their approach to present giving. My boys have been brought up always taking a birthday present with them when they went to parties as youngsters. But suddenly as teenagers, all memory of this simple but meaningful tradition seems to have been erased. On some occasions, I have enquired about whether a present is appropriate and been told CASH is the preferred choice, as the birthday girl/boy is looking forward to having $1500 cash to spend after their party (meanwhile their parents have probably spent $5000 to throw the party). Call me old-fashioned but I am not a fan of this approach.
The alternative is that they/we will buy a present (normally after some initial prompting). One evening Man-Child had indeed organised to purchase a very nice bracelet for a friend. As we walked out the door I asked where it was – I kid you not he had it on his wrist!!!! I explained that it might be a little nicer if it was gift wrapped, and a personal card was written to his friend for the occasion. That way it would look like the thoughtful present that it was, rather than some second-hand bauble he’d found lying around.
The etiquette of gift giving extends to weekends away with friends. I am a reflection of my parents, and was brought up to believe that you should never go empty-handed when you stay with another family. So I will always ensure my boys take some food, either snacks/drinks for the kids, or maybe some chocolates for the parents. Even better if it’s something home-made, but in this day and age I think we’re all more forgiving. I was therefore mortified one day to see Man-Child arrive home with the soft drink and chips I had provided to him, half-eaten/drunk and still in his bag. When I asked why the host hadn’t been given them, he looked at me blankly. It had not even occurred to him to present them to his host – he just assumed it was for the boys to enjoy as they saw fit. You will be pleased to know we have now completed the lesson on gift giving, so hopefully my boys will be a little wiser in future.