My son does funny things. Sometimes he does a funny little walk that is kind of a waddle, and he laughs loudly while doing it. I thought it was funny too… until I realized that he was actually imitating me!
Anyone with kids knows that toddlers are sponges and they copy the people in their lives, and if you have heard your toddler drop an f-bomb then no doubt you are acutely aware of this. Thankfully (for me) Ben hasn’t dropped any naughty words, which is a testament to my self-restraint. My wife finds something funny watching me when I drop something, stub a toe, jam a finger or hurt myself in any way. I go red in the face, then what comes out of my mouth is either “FFFFFFFF-ar out” or “Shhhhhhh-ugar”. This is always followed by my wife’s signature ‘Ash did something stupid’ giggle.
Seeing this little guy follow me everywhere and copy my every move, led me to a parenting super-pearl of wisdom…. If I want him to do something, I just have to do it myself. If I want him to eat his greens, I just have to eat them with him (yes… parenting involves self-sacrifice).
So one day I came in with my hands full of groceries, and there were some toys on the ground in the doorway, which I flicked away with my foot, only to turn around and see Ben kicking them out of his way. It was then that it dawned on me that this ‘super-pearl’ is more important than I first thought. I have so much influence over how he behaves for the rest of his life so it was time to have a good long hard look at myself. On this basis, it’s a fair bet that he’ll be a trendy little man, but I don’t really want him to be a trendy-moody-lazy little man. So I looked up how to be a gentleman and have picked out a few little gems, and let’s just say I’m a bit off the pace….
Keep your language PG-13
Gentlemen don’t swear. As someone with an un-intentional potty-mouth, it can be pretty hard to reel this in. It is obviously a no-no in professional settings so why would it be ok at home? I don’t really want to hear Ben swearing like a sailor so I’ll have to stick to what I call ‘mum-swear-words’ such as… sugar, fruit, far-out, fiddle-dee-dee-that-will-require-a-tetanus-shot (for the Simpsons fans).
Pick Up After Yourself
Gentlemen aren’t messy. Thankfully, my wife has been a good example for Ben, and he will pack up his toys when he is asked. This isn’t a habit that I intend to break. Keeping a tidy office, home, and car will leave a good impression on anyone you meet. It shows you take yourself seriously, and take pride in what you’ve worked hard for but more importantly, keeping tidy has the added benefit of significantly reducing the amount of nagging that I’m subjected to.
Hold the door open
This is the sign of a gentleman. I know that it is the 21st century and in this age of equality I should acknowledge that women are more than capable of opening doors for themselves, and I want to be sure no to raise a misogynist, but I think opening doors for other people is a pretty good example to set.
Keep your cool
Gentlemen don’t lose their cool. This is something that can be difficult for most people. Once while driving, a grown man got out of his car in traffic after HE cut ME off, came around to my car window to call me a few names very loudly… he may have been right, but that was purely by co-incidence… he didn’t know me. I don’t know what sort of day he was having to cause that behavior, but the look on his wife’s face told me that it wasn’t going to get any better for him. What shocked me was the look on his children’s face from the back seat. I’m not sure that he is setting a good example for them.
The fact is, that we set an example for our children whether we know it or not. We just have to make sure it’s a good one. It’s not easy all the time, but at least I’ll get reminded by Ben every time he ‘takes the p… erm….pizza’ out of me.