I'm a mean mom. Not the kind of mom that, like, brings out a medieval torture rack or makes horrible casseroles or anything that bad, but the kind of mean mom that some kids really don't care for, because I have a real problem with IMPOLITE CHILDREN. If you know any of my own three children, you have just spit coffee all over your computer monitor in an explosive guffaw. I should re-write the Beatles song about MissSeven and call it "Dear Impudence." I'm not a damn miracle worker. Nonetheless, I am tireless in my relentless pursuit of a REASONABLE STANDARD OF MANNERS, because it counts in this world, as I was reminded by this article on children and social skills on CNN today. The article interviews another nice meanie, Faye Rogaski, who has founded socialsklz:-), an update on kids' etiquette classes. Instead of showing the proper way to eat soup (although that is kind of important, STOP SLURPING!), Ms. Rogaski's workshops focus on modern manners in all kinds of situations, from school settings to playdates to first jobs to the documented failpit of judgment we have enjoyed through seeing youthful missteps on Facebook or other social media. (Yes, 14-year-old girl I know, I do think it is gauche for you to be on MySpace hoisting a Bacardi bottle and showing your thong, and so did the Headmaster of that private high school you applied to. DENIED.) The breaks you get in life are so often based on the connections you make with others, and socially inept people are usually the first passed over. Hello, Mail Room, Rudey McLout. Anyway, I am going to just pick three quick sore points I have with KIDS THESE DAYS, GOL DURN IT, and totally impolitely write about them.

1. Please and Thank You: These are so important that I wish I had a tiny taser to use as a prompt if they go missing or tardy:

"Whaaaaat do you saaaaaay to Grandma for the lovely plaid underwear set?"




"There we go. Please get up off the floor now; it's dirty. Thank you."

Whenever you ask anything of anyone, say please. Whenever anyone does ANYTHING for you, say thank you. Whenever anyone compliments you, say thank you. Ignoring the efforts of others in your behalf is thoughtless. This needs to become utter habit. By god, I want to hear you saying THANK YOU in your SLEEP! Even more than that, I want you to feel and understand WHY you should want to say please and thank you. Be grateful, you ingrates!

2. Look me in the Damn Eye, Kid: In other cultures this would get you a rebuke, but this is Amurrica and when we are having a conversation, I need to see that you are engaged. Paying attention in this way tells me you give a crap about what I am saying, and that you are not a sniveling little weasel. I think that sums it up.

3.Don't Talk Over Or Interrupt: One of the most intolerable kiddie rudenesses is the one who has the audacity to speak when you are speaking. HOLD YOUR WATER, KID; YOU'LL GET YOUR TURN. I am of course not at all referring to youthful bubbly enthusiasm or possibly the need to tell me that Bobie the stuffed horse is on fire. I mean smart-mouthed, backtalkin' JIVE-ASS VERBAL BARF. What many children and teens seem to completely miss is that there is a hierarchy in the world. No, you don't have the same rights as adults. No, you really don't have the experience to argue like you are King Bigshot. And yes, precocious puke may seem hilarious on a TV sitcom, but in real life you just look like you were raised on Crap- Flingin' Monkey Island. Be respectful, and you will receive respect back.

It's a process, this socialization thing. I'd like to think that the best course of action is for adults to be consistent in providing a good example, towards your kids and everyone else. I also understand how very hard this is sometimes. A morning spent in the Department of Motor Vehicles or at Chuck E. Cheese could reduce even Mr. Rogers into a foul-mouthed and impatient man. But do keep at it, as imperfectly executed as your efforts may be some days. Your other job, in that case, is to be able to be big enough to apologize to a small person for any rudeness you may have slung out.

A tiny last word goes to Impudence.