Basic manners

I live in central London, and as most of the population here, I take the underground train to work (aka “the tube”). In each carriage there are on average 4-6 priority seat for the elderly, handicapped, pregnant women, etc.

A few days ago, I was reading the “text messages & thank yous” sectionin a newspaper  ( one of my guilty pleasures ) and there was one that made me feel very angry and embarrassed.

It was from a canadian man, who came with his wife to london for the olympics. He thanked all the London women who take the underground for giving up their seat for him and his wife every time they ended up in a crowded carriage; he mentioned how impressed he was by the politeness and empathy of these women.

Thank you sir.

I felt angry because it is the same thought I had during the time I was pregnant and going to work. During this period I had a seat offered to me many, many, many times … but out of those times, only 3 times it was a man giving up his seat.

3 times!

The first one, this amazing man walked half way through the carriage and pulled my arm so I would seat. The second time, it was an old man, who really needed it more than I did. The last one, was a young man, who stood up right when he saw me.

That was it, all the other times were various women and girls who gave up their seat for me. I am sorry it took so long, but here it goes:

Thank you ladies

If you are going to come up with some ridiculous argument on how pregnant women wrongly assume they deserve more attention and consideration just because their condition then please, PLEASE, go ahead now and either click un-follow or hit the back button and read something else, because I DO think that a pregnant woman is definitely MORE tired than you are after the day is over no matter who you are.

It is a matter of respect and consideration. that bum of yours needs to get off a seat, not only the priority seat but ALL seats, for the elderly, pregnant women, handicapped or anybody that seems to need it more that you do!

I know why all those women give up their seats. I know why I give up my seat. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist, and you are a big-class idiot  if you really are happy telling yourself that you are too tired and deserve to be on that seat  reading or playing a video game. Just so you know, most probably you will be there in that same position one day hoping somebody will show you a little kindness. It is  very simple really, you do it, because you expect it. I give up my seat because I know how grateful I would be in the same situation.

Please, if you are going to mention that because you know that most probably your offer is going to be rejected, then you don’t ask … please go ahead and do the Un-follow/back button thing now as well. If you are going to use the “feminist” excuse … then you know what to do. Moron.

You always ask, always. If it gets rejected then happy days! you get to keep your seat.

I am sure there are a many different variables that converge and make this a normal occurrence in our society, but I’ll be damned if I am not going to try and do something about it. I felt embarrassed because It is up to us, moms and dads, to teach our little ones simple things like this. It doesn’t take any effort (it is definitely easier than feed them broccoli ), to teach them how to be considerate and look a little bit further than the tip of their nose.

The message is being sent, because girls are doing it, so what is wrong with the boys? what is it?

I am not implying that my son will be a little cassanova, permanently walking with a carnation, and a cheeky smile. But he will learn to give up his seat, to let people past first when opening a door, to move out of the way in high transited areas …

Being a doormat? No, being a respectful man with manners.

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Kids and strangers

I read this post a few weeks ago and it made such an impact on me that I decided to re-blog it. It is written by Sarah Levy from her blog Checklistmommy, and it is about what to consider when talking to children about strangers.

“Right after Diddy was born, I was in the car listening to NPR and I heard a child safety educator say, “Stop telling your kids not to talk to strangers. They might need to talk to a stranger one day. Instead, teach them which sorts of strangers are safe. You know who’s safe? A mom with kids. Period. Your kid gets separated from you at the mall? Tell her to flag down the first mom with kids she sees.”

This was fantastic advice. I have shared it with everyone who will listen, ever since.

Last month, I finally got to meet the woman who’d said this brilliant thing, when I had the enormous good fortune of attending a kid’s safety seminar led by Pattie Fitzgerald of Safely Ever After. Safely Ever After offers seminars to adults and children on the subject of “keeping kids safe from child molesters and abuse.”

I didn’t seek Pattie out. I don’t spend every moment of the day worrying that my kids are going to end up in white slavery. But Diddy and Gaga’s preschool offers the material to parents of pre-K students as a preamble to teaching it to the pre-K kids, and Diddy’s a pre-K kid, so I went to hear what Pattie had to say. (And in light of all the Miramonte Elementary madness, I am thrilled I did.)

If it makes you uncomfortable to think about offering this sort of material to a 5 year-old, let me reassure you by saying our school offers an opt-out. But after spending a morning listening to Pattie’s presentation, I can honestly say I would have let her go teach my 3 year-old about “tricky people.” If the boys could understand it, I’d have her come over and talk to them, too.

And they’d like it. Really. I did.  Sitting around listening to all the horrible things that could happen to your kids might not sound like a good time — but oddly enough, with Pattie Fitzgerald, it is.

For one thing, Pattie knows her stuff, and I felt confident that her information was accurate and her advice studied and strong. For another, she’s pretty funny — so the material she presented never felt horribly gloom-and-doomy so much as matter-of-fact and manageable.

FOR INSTANCE:

  • It is unlikely your kid is going to be abused by a weirdo at the park (huge sigh of relief).
  • That said, if there is a weirdo at the park, he’s not going to fit the “stranger” model — so stop teaching your kid about strangers! He’s going to come up to your kid and introduce himself. Voila! He ain’t a stranger anymore.
  • Teach your kids about TRICKY PEOPLE, instead. TRICKY PEOPLE are grown-ups who ASK KIDS FOR HELP (no adult needs to ask a kid for help) or TELLS KIDS TO KEEP A SECRET FROM THEIR PARENTS (including, IT’S OKAY TO COME OVER HERE BEHIND THIS TREE WITHOUT ASKING MOM FIRST. Not asking Mom is tantamount to KEEPING A SECRET.)
  • Teach your kids not to DO ANYTHING, or GO ANYWHERE, with ANY ADULTS AT ALL, unless they can ask for your permission first.

See how I said ANY ADULTS AT ALL? That’s because:

  • It’s far more likely your kid is going to be abused by someone they have a relationship with, because most cases of abuse follow long periods of grooming — both of the kid and his or her family.
  • Bad guys groom you and your kids to gauge whether or not you’re paying attention to what they’re doing, and/or to lure you into dropping your guard. Don’t. Kids who bad guys think are flying under their parents’ radars, or kids who seem a little insecure or disconnected from their parents, are the kids who are most at risk.

SO:

  • Be suspicious of gifts that adults in positions of authority give your kids. There’s no reason your son should be coming back from Bar Mitzvah study with a cool new keychain or baseball hat.
  • Be suspicious of teachers who tell you your kid is so special they want to offer him more one-on-one time, or special outings. That teacher who says your kid is into Monet, he wants to take him to a museum next weekend? Say thanks, and take your kid to go see the exhibit yourself.
  • You know that weird adult cousin of yours who’s always out in the yard with the kids, never in the kitchen drinking with the grown-ups? Keep an eye on your kids when he’s around.
  • Oh, and that soccer coach who keeps offering to babysit for free, so you can get some time to yourself? NO ONE WANTS TO BABYSIT YOUR KIDS JUST TO BE NICE.

And, here’s another good reason to add to the PANTHEON of reasons to teach your children the anatomically correct names for their genitalia:

  • There isn’t a child molester on earth who’s going to talk to your daughter about her vagina. Really. But if she suddenly starts calling it a cupcake, you can ask her who taught her that.

*

Ultimately, after spending an hour with Pattie, I felt LESS worried, not more. That, to me, is the number one sign of a good book or seminar about parenting — it doesn’t stress you out.

And you know why Pattie Fitzgerald and  Safely Ever After won’t stress you out?

BECAUSE SHE’S CHOCKFUL OF CHECKLISTS!

She’s got a PREVENTION TIPS list, a RED FLAGS & WARNINGS list, and my personal favorite, a THE SUPER-10, PLAY IT SAFE FOR KIDS AND GROWN-UPS! list.

Check out Pattie’s site. Read her material, buy her kids book, organize a bunch of like-minded parents to take her seminars. I promise you’ll feel better after — and way safer — when you do. ”