I’ve always stood up for good manners and we’ve always tried to instil them in Dylan and Xander. For the most part, they’re polite little lads who know when to say please and thank you and also when to be kind to others.
Teaching good etiquette isn’t always easy though – especially when our efforts are undermined by grown adults who seem to have forgotten how to behave in public. Sadly, there have been several occasions recently in which we’ve been on the receiving end of people’s distinct lack of social graces while out and about.
A few weeks ago, for example, we’d been to see my parents and were on our way back home, full of food and, in my case, wine too. We got to the bus stop in good time to discover there were more people than usual there for a Sunday afternoon. Five minutes passed and it dawned on us that no traffic was passing at all.
I looked up the high street to discover that it was going the wrong way round the one-way system. Naturally. Evidently there were roadworks of some sort somewhere just out of sight, but no notices to warn people. Evidently, the bus company believed that the one thing we clearly all had in common – apart from waiting for public transport – was psychic ability.
We decided to walk to the next stop but one – the next one was also on a section of road uninfected by traffic – which is about ten minutes away. A man who was also waiting mentioned that he didn’t know the area asked what was going on. Seizing the opportunity to demonstrate good manners to the boys, I recommended that he follow us. He did. We were almost there when, sure enough, the bus finally appeared in the middle distance.
Dylan and Kate started to run and I picked up Xander – who had intimated that he didn’t fancy it – and also started to leg it. The bus sped up and the stranger we had helped went into Usain Bolt mode, belting past us. He got there just in time, hopped onto the bus and off it went without us. The bastard hadn’t told the driver we were trying to get the bus too!
That wasn’t the final insult though. Because I was holding Xander as I ran, I didn’t have any control over my slightly loose jeans. The moment I stopped in despair as the bus proceeded to the south, so did they. I was left holding a screaming toddler, feeling a bit sick and with my trousers round my ankles. Then, and only then, did the sparse traffic become busy traffic. See what happens when you’re kind to people?
We waited half an hour for the next one to come along. Mercifully, it arrived on time. The driver smiled at us and lowered the bus to make it easier for Dylan and Xander to step aboard. “WHY ARE YOU SO LATE?!” yelled Dylan.
Lessons learned: maybe we still need to do a little more work on the boys’ manners… and I should consider investing in a belt.