Saturday, April 28, 2012

An Old-Fashioned Girl

by guest blogger Sofie Kelly

My mother had a heart attack before Christmas. (She’s doing well now and thank you to everyone for your good wishes.) The morning after she was moved out of Coronary Care over to the rehabilitation unit, I bumped—literally—into the mother of a boy my daughter had gone to elementary school with. She was the physiotherapist on the floor.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

I explained about my mother and the heart attack. She smiled and pointed to the right hand corridor. “That’s her in 2026, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I said, feeling very confused. My mother is a tiny woman with a British accent and we don’t have the same last name. “How did you know?”

She shrugged. “I met her when she came in. She has the same old-fashioned manners that you and your daughter have.”

That wasn’t the first time someone has remarked on my mother’s manners. She was born in England. At almost ninety years old she’s still very proper.

It also wasn’t the first time someone had commented on my daughter’s manners, and as a mom it is wonderful to hear that my child is polite and respectful to other people. But I am taken back, a little, by the term, “old-fashioned.” I heard it from more than one teacher when we went to our first parent-teacher night at the high school last fall. “She always says please and thank you. She has lovely, old-fashioned manners.”
Old-fashioned. The term doesn’t really feel like a compliment. Somehow for me, old-fashioned manners conjures an image of curtsies and sweeping bows, not using the words please and thank you, holding the door open, or sharing your bag of pretzels. Then again, I was raised by that impeccably polite little English woman, and I do know how to curtsy.

So what do you think? Are manners old-fashioned? Does anyone else know how to curtsy?

And by the way, my new book, Copycat Killing comes out on Tuesday. If you pre-ordered a copy, thank you.
Sofie Kelly is the pseudonym of award-winning young adult writer, Darlene Ryan. Darlene’s latest teen novel is Cuts Like a Knife, a Junior Library Guild selection. Sofie writes the New York Times bestselling Magical Cats mysteries. The next book in the series, Copycat Killing will be available May 1st.  Leave a comment and you could win a copy!

Visit Darlene's web site.

Visit Sofie's web site.


Kristin A. said...

First of all, yippee and welcome! I am so glad you are here! I have been enjoying your magical cats series and am looking forward to Copycat Killing. You have such a fun series. I enjoyed how each of the chapters in Curiosity Thrilled the Cats were named for tai chi movements (I confess that I only figured this out by googling a few of them trying to figure it out!).

No, manners are most certainly not old-fashioned. At least I hope not. Please tell me they aren't! It seems unfortunate to me that they have been referred to you as such on more than one occasion. One can easily remark on one's politeness without using the term old-fashioned, which I agree doesn't seem like a compliment at all. I agree how wonderful it is to have someone compliment your child's manners. Unfortunately not all families place an importance on teaching and practicing good manners (hats and cell phones on at the dinner table!?) and consequently there is an alarming number of rude adults around.

Oh, and yes, I believe I do know how to curtsy, but I've only done it in fun, so maybe that counts for little.

Thanks again for stopping by!

Aurian said...

To have manners is not old fashioned, but I think since so many people have no manners, the use of them is old fashioned, as in out of style. But it is certainly always appreciated. I never did learn to curtsy, nor have I ever seen someone curtsying for our Queen.

David said...

The only thing old-fashioned about manners is the very idea that manners are old-fashioned! Manners (or lack of) are reflected in so much more than the words we say or the actions we show. They are reflected in what and how we write, in the music we listen to ad the songs we love,in short, in the way we view our lives. If manners are old-fashioned, then please, let me never be in-style with the current times!

Karen B said...

I don't think manners are old-fashioned but they certainly are lacking today. I love it when I say thank-you to someone and they look surprised, and then they smile and say you're welcome.
Curtsy - I'm sure I'd end up on my behind... Maybe if I had tried about 70 years ago. :)

Debra said...

Manners, courtesy,etc. are all that separate us from other mammals. My son's kindergarten teacher was named Ms. Polite and that was our theme while raising and yes civilizing our boy. As an example, we would make him return to the table and ask to be excused if he jumped up after eating.

Katreader said...

It's a sad comment on society that manners are considered old fashioned. I adore your Magical Cats and can't wait to read more!

grammajudyb said...

I don't think manners are old-fashioned in the negative sense. I love it when I witness the use of good manners. Manners or lack there of are most evident to me lately, on the road while driving or while entering or exiting a store. Very few men hold the door for a women any more, and hardly anyone will let you over in a lane while driving.

Wendy Newcomb said...

I wish more children had 'old fashioned' manners, but I guess it's kind of hard to learn them when they don't see them being practiced by their parents and a 'lot' of teachers.

Would love to win a copy of the new book.


Sofie Kelly said...

Kristin, I'm happy to be here. Thanks should go to Lorraine.

Aurian, you're right. I can't remember the last time I saw someone curtsy to the Queen. I think that's a dying art.

David, we clearly think the same way. I find it sad that it's the parents of my daughter's friends who comment on manners being old fashioned. The kids do think I'm odd about certain things but I'm surprised by how often they want to know the reason for something.

Karen, learning to curtsy when one is small is definitely a bonus. And I confess I make some creaky noises now when I do it.

Debra, my mother would agree with you about manners being what distinguishes us from other animals. When our manners were lacking growing up she would pull herself up to her less than five feet and say softly, "You weren't raised by wolves."

Sofie Kelly said...

Katreader, thank you. I'm glad to hear you like the Magical Cats.

Gramma Judy, just a couple of days ago a little guy hurried ahead of me to hold the door. He beamed when I thanked him. He made my morning.

Wendy, one of the benefits of my daughter's manners is that people tend to remember her in a good way.

anne said...

So excited for Copycat to be released!

Can we talk about thank-you notes? So simple, yet so impressive. I think they're officially 'old-fashioned,' sadly...

Sofie Kelly said...

Anne, we do thank you notes, too, and I've heard they're old fashioned more than once. I think I'm just a dinosaur who can curtsy.

BW said...

No manners are still important. I can curtsy however, it isn't pretty.