Etiquette In a World That Glorifies Mediocrity

I’ve hesitated on how/if to write this post. However, after numerous emails from people who are mainly put out with friends and family who seem to promote tardiness and flaunt disrespect, I’ve decided it’s time to go ahead and lay it all out there.

Today’s world seems to glorify mediocrity.

You’ve seen the memes that say, “I respect parents who have it all together. But parents who stumble in to drop their kids off at school, looking like they just got attacked by a flock of angry birds? Those are my people.” This post is not intended to shame anyone who is doing their best in the season they’re in. I’ve been there. I’ll soon be there again after baby #3’s arrival. (Side note….we need to pick a name…) There are seasons, sometimes ones that last for years, where we have to give ourselves lots and lots of grace. Perfection isn’t attainable all of the time. Nor is it wrong to show our realness and our flaws. But by promoting that it’s not only acceptable but desirable to be someone who isn’t considerate of other people’s time by being late consistently – where does this come from? Why do we accept the status quo and try play up the “cuteness” factor of not having it all together?

After truly thinking and praying on this subject, I think at the core, the real issue is that we have a culture who glorifies busyness. If you seem like you have it all together, you must not be doing enough. You must not be a parent who lets their kids be involved or you would be late to everything. You must be a subpar employee or you wouldn’t be able to leave to make your kid’s soccer practice on time. It’s almost as if someone decided that if they can’t be perfect all of the time, they’re going to do a 180 and be imperfect all of the time. We incorrectly associate busyness as progress. It is not.

If you bring Brookshire’s chicken to a potluck at church instead of fixing homemade, that is wonderful. If you deliberately show up 20 minutes late with wet hair and nothing in hand, I do think it may be time to step back and reexamine your priorities. We cannot do it all; why, though, are we allowing this to keep us from doing anything?

I’ve said it over and over, but it bears saying again. Etiquette is about respect of others and respect for ourselves. We should each respect our self enough to choose to be our best self – it will be unique for each person. We know, though, deep down, if we’re doing enough to just get by or if we’re choosing to prioritize ourselves and others. It is a subtle difference, but it’s enough to get recognized by others. Trust me when I say that people are drawn in by and attracted to this trait. It’s 100% okay to not be the best. Why, though, would you not want to be your best you?

 

 

Reader Question: How Do I Get My Kids To Behave At Restaurants?

In 2017 at Commander’s Palace

The most commonly asked question I get from parents is “how do I make my kids behave at a restaurant?” There isn’t a magic pill. This takes consistency and lots of grace. When I first started taking my kids out to eat. I made up my mind to be prepared mentally and emotionally to leave at any point where my kids disrupted another diner. Of course, I always make sure to not put my kids in situations that are selfish, such as having them out too late. Last year at ages 3 and 5 we were able to enjoy a very nice, long meal at Commander’s Palace with my mom. My daughter understood that eating there was very special and a treat. This is not to toot my own horn. This is simply what has worked for us and for others. I promise you, it has not been easy from the beginning. When they aren’t accustomed to something like eating at a restaurant, they won’t inherently know how to behave. It has taken consistency in my expectations and sticking to my guns if something happened. Thankfully, it hasn’t in years. Enjoying a meal out is not a right that we are given, so having respect and courtesy for others is important. Here are a few tips that have worked over the years:

(1) Let them know your expectations upfront. I would always let my kids know what the plan was and what was expected of them. We didn’t eat in front of the tv every night and then magically expect them to know how to act at a table. I would go over basic table etiquette with them so they would become more comfortable using it, such as using a spoon or fork instead of their hands.
(2) Be consistent. Just like in a restaurant, we don’t allow yelling or crying at the table. If they’re frustrated, they may tell us why. We also have them place their napkins on their laps. By practicing at home, it is a more natural transition for them to use these techniques in public.
(3) Be realistic. Don’t expect your 18-month old baby to be okay sitting still and quiet for three hours at a fancy restaurant. For your first time out, ask for a to-go box at the start, if that makes you more comfortable. If your child is old enough to talk, point out all of the fun colors and build up this experience for them. Once you consistently see the results you want, you can incorporate something new, like dining in the evening.
BONUS TIP: Be prepared. This is especially necessary if you’re going out to eat during a busy time. Take a board book, colors or silent toy to keep your child occupied. Also, it’s okay for those who are little (think under four-years old) to have a snack brought from home if things are too busy, such as puffs. If you bring something for them to eat, have everything you need. Don’t ask for the restaurant to provide anything.

The RSVP Challenge

Happy Thursday! I’m not sure when school starts for you, but here in Sulphur Springs, we’re down to 12 days and counting. I have completely mixed emotions. I’m so proud of my daughter, and she is so excited to start the first grade. However, I’m also nervous and can’t believe she’s big enough to go to the first grade. I want to simultaneously protect her and see how well she flies on her own. Confusing? Try feeling all of that at the same time.

We’re on the brink of cool weather, warm sweaters, leaves, pumpkins and all things fall. With that, each year, I always notice an uptick in invitations. Birthday parties, Halloween parties, cookie parties, etc.

So, to help us become more helpful to others, I’m encouraging everyone to join in on my RSVP challenge! The goal is to RSVP within three days of receiving an invitation by the sender’s preferred method. If it doesn’t state how to RSVP, I encourage calling to let them know if you will/will not be able to attend.

Hosting a party is stressful enough with the cleaning, buying of food, cooking of food and on and on and on….let’s not add something else to the pile. It’s a simple, FREE way to become more helpful to others. I hope you’ll join in!

Correct Correspondence – Reader Q&A

Q. I wanted to see if you would be willing to give a little clarification on how to address people on an envelope. Specifically, with titles and without titles. Also, what about women who don’t change their last name after marriage? I appreciate your help!

A. Thank you for reading! I am more than happy to help. Let’s start with the basics. If John Smith and Jane Smith are married and are of equal ranks, it would Mr. and Mrs. John Smith. If you choose a more informal approach it would be Jane and John Smith. The old adage is, “you never separate a man from his name.” Yes, it’s a little dated, but it’s a decent way to remember which name goes first. If Jane had kept her maiden name of Johnson, it would be Mr. John Smith and Ms. Jane Johnson. She would never be addressed as Mrs. Smith, as she didn’t take that name. She would be Ms. Johnson. Now, let’s say she did take his last name of Smith. Traditionally, she would always be referred to as Mrs. John Smith and not Mrs. Jane Smith. Nowadays, it is completely acceptable to list Mrs. Jane Smith, if that is her preference.

If Jane is a doctor, and her husband is not, on the envelope it would be Dr. Jane Smith and Mr. John Smith. If they are both doctors, it may read Drs. Jane and John Smith.

If children are included on the envelope, they are addressed on a separate line below their parents’ names. For a boy, traditionally under the age of 10, the title of Master is to be used. He drops having a title after 10 until he turns 18, at which time he becomes a Mister and warrants his own invitation, even if he lives with his parents.

Girls traditionally did not have a title until age 10. It’s very common now, though, to refer to a female as Miss from birth on. At 18, she, too, receives her own invitation, even if she resides with her parents. I hope this helps!

 

 

Summer Tea Time At Cotillion

One of my favorite parts of Cotillion is getting to watch the students experience something new for the first time. Aside from my daughter, none of the other students enrolled in Junior Cotillion had ever participated in an afternoon tea. While our tea time was a bit later than traditional tea (class begins at 4:15pm), they were all too thrilled to get to try it!

Their sweet, puckered faces told me that, while they didn’t love the taste of hot tea without additions, they were willing to step outside of their comfort zone and try something new – a trait that will take them far in life.

By far, their favorite version was the hot peach tea with both honey and a spash of milk added.

My own daughter is participating this summer, so I know too well how, even with correct teachings, kids can be when at home. Put them in a different atmosphere, though, and they really grow and mature. Each student placed their napkin on their lap, and they all did their very best to not splash or clink the glass when stirring. Mouths were closed when the delicious scones and tea sandwiches (avocado ranch and strawberry cream cheese) were devoured.

Give them an opportunity to meet your expectations, and I promise they will.

A few questions were brought up during tea, and I enjoyed getting the opportunity to teach on more than what was on our class agenda. One of the questions I felt worthy of sharing with everyone, as there is a common misconception on high tea.

Isn’t high tea very fancy? This was the simple question that spurred great conversation, and I’m happy to share my answer with everyone today!

No, high tea actually refers to the high-back chairs around a dining table. Commoners often ate “high tea” on Sundays after work was completed. It is more like our supper today. It was also referred to as a “meat and potatoes tea.”

A low tea is what most Americans think of as traditional tea. It refers to the low tables one might find in a person’s home, such as a coffee table.

Teas were meant to be an informal way of entertaining. While teas may be “formal” in today’s viewpoint, you would never wear a formal gown to one. The term “tea length” originates due to the time of day. Since it’s mid-afternoon, the length isn’t full length, but it would still be considered “nice,” which isn’t a synonym for “formal,” at least in the etiquette world.

Other common terms are afternoon tea or cream tea. An afternoon tea would usually offer both sweet and savory options, and a cream tea may have only scones with clotted cream to serve with the tea.

The students learned so much while trying something new, and I truly think I enjoy as much as they do each time. The next time you’re thinking of having friends over, consider a tea!

Bonus info: When drinking tea, the pinky never goes up!