I know that boys need men to teach them how to be men. I understand that. So, it should have come as no surprise to me that my efforts to teach manners were not always well received. In reality, a female demonstrating to a boy how he should conduct himself in public is . . . well . . . a FEMALE telling a boy how to be a MALE. At best, such an endeavor would result in a facsimile of maleness. My boys weren't interested.
The difficulty for me was that I grew up in a home that emphasized manners. Both of my parents taught manners from before I could speak. It is part of my DNA somehow. It was just something I endeavored to teach my boys as a matter of course.
From time to time I've been called upon to attend some formal events (not often, and long ago). So, you can imagine how I'd look at my children and sometimes think , "If you do that in front of dignitaries one day, I'll just faint!"
My boys would just respond with giggles and laughter.
Before I tell you what happened at breakfast, I have to backtrack a bit. We've been going over events that led up to the founding of our country. In that process, we've started learning about the challenges presented to the defenders of the colonies when they decided to revolt against England. Forces of nature were brought into play such that men that should have been decimated lived to fight and win another day.
Learning about the circumstances under which George Washington found himself leading troops (well, eventually, they were troops) was like experiencing an episode of some survival reality television show, and whatever other action-adventure program you can think of all wrapped up into one. Knowing the outcome didn't make it any less amazing. . . . But that was watching it through my adult eyes.
My little guys, on the other hand, were mesmerized. Their grandfather was named after this man. This guy was starting to tower above Davy Crockett and Lewis and Clark -- and that's saying a lot in this house. Not only did this man manage to be successful in war, he was a LEADER of MEN. My guys were more than impressed.
That brings us to this morning.
"Mom, can I read to you?"
"Sure," I replied expecting to see the latest dinosaur book from the library.
Instead, he pulled out a small red volume. One of the books I had collected long ago thinking that ONE day, SOME day, I would share it with my kids. None of them seemed interested, so it had sat on the shelf for years.
That's the book he pulled out.
George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation
I was stunned and listened as he began to read over President Washington's list. This was a list made by a man that was humbled by the office of the presidency and the weight of the responsibility of the men and the nation he led. This was a man concerned with not causing unnecessary offense. He knew war. He knew how to fight. He seemed keenly aware of the scrutiny he was under and sought to not cause embarrassment or discomfort. He could have swaggered and preened. Instead, he maintained a humble dignity. This was not a man without passions. This was not a man unfamiliar with hardship. This was a man with considered priorities, and he determined to discipline himself first.
THAT appealed to my young son.
So, I listened as he read from George Washington's book. He read the same things my parents had taught me. He read the same things I had tried to tell him before. But THIS time, it came from a MAN that was a LEADER -- A man of integrity and honor and faith. It wasn't just mama saying not to scratch in public. This was the father of our country saying:
"When in company, put not your hands to any part of the body, not usually discovered."
Thanks George, I couldn't have said it better myself!
I am thankful that the Lord of my heart knew how much this would mean to me and allowed me the privilege to witness it. God is SOOOOOOOO GOOD!