Essay: What Kind

May 17, 2019

As a little girl, I often went to play at friends’ houses and my mother sent me out the door with firm rules about being polite—which began with please and thank you.  Next, she insisted we call all adults by their Mr. and Mrs. names.

And if someone asked me if I wanted I cookie, I was allowed to say yes or no.  I was not allowed to ask, “What kind?”  Being polite meant being grateful for what was given, whether you liked it or not.  And the cookie rule extended to everything else.

Once I spent the night at the home of my best friend, Carol Bradford.  For dinner, her mother served us big bowls of split pea soup with ham—soup that had an inch of grease floating on top.  Carol noticed my spoon poised in mid-air and said,  “Just stir it in.”  I stirred it in and managed to eat it all.

My mother’s rules about being polite seemed strict when I was growing up, but I’ve kept a lot of them myself—because I’ve seen their value.  Courtesy isn’t just about manners.  It’s about respect for others, about gratitude, about kindness. 

Thank you, Mrs. Bradford, I like pea soup.