Courtesy: A Spoonful of Sugar
Everyone at any age enjoys being treated courteously. It is the ultimate compliment. Babies deserve their dignity; the aged deserve their dignity, as do all in between. This was brought home to me very early in life. My mother always couched her requests with “would you please,” or “could I ask you”, or “would you be kind enough to.” She praised you for the job you did and took the time to point out why she liked how you did it. She could be critical, very critical. She could be harsh.
Mother lost custody of me at age four, and I was nine before I went back to live with her. One of the first jobs she asked me to do was to sweep the kitchen floor. I was pleased and vigorously went to work. The Kansas dust rose up in visible, sunlit swirls. In fury, my tidy mother grabbed the broom and snapped, “That’s not the way to sweep. Look, the dust is settling on the table and the dishes.” Her brown eyes were black with anger. I was devastated.
My face twisted up. I so wanted to please this affectionate woman that I little remembered. “Mother, I don’t know how,” I wailed. “I’m doing the best I can!” Tears were just behind blinks.
Mother’s fury melted. Her voice went soft. “Well then,” she said. Then with emphasis she added, “Angels can do no more.” To my great relief, she kindly showed me how to drag the broom to keep from stirring up the dust and later complimented me for a job well done.
Courtesy and kindness matter. Mother taught three children to take personal pride in meticulous work. It’s amazing what kindness, courtesy and praise can achieve. Angels can do no more.