While I was wandering about the country over the weekend, I was thinking about my son and the kind of man we are training him to become.
You see, I ran into a few men during my travels who reminded me that boys do not automatically spring up into the chivalrous sort.
While I was at the airport, nervously waiting to board the first plane I have been on since 1997, I looked around the crowded boarding area and spotted an empty seat. I lugged my two heavy carry ons and my pregnant belly over there and sat down, relieved to have a few moments of rest after hauling all my luggage about a mile from the parking garage to the baggage check.
I had just gotten out my Bible to catch up on my reading when I noticed a shadow move over me. I looked up to see a man who looked to be about my own age, in his 40's. He looked down at me and said sternly, "You're in my seat!"
I was very embarrassed to have sat down without knowing that he apparently owned the space. Who knew there were assigned seats in the airport boarding area? I guess things have changed more than I knew.
I immediately apologized and began gathering up my bags. Did I mention they were heavy? The man stood his ground (I guess he owned that, too.) and I heaved my burgeoning belly upward and out of his seat. I again apologized for the mistake as he sat down while I scanned the room for an empty space. By that time the boarding area had filled to capacity and there was no room in the inn.
It was almost time to board, so I comforted myself (and my shoulder - the heavy bags, you know) with the fact that I would soon be seated on the plane.
While I stood I gave Mr. Chivalry the stink eye glanced over to the boarding area property holder and noticed him feeding peanuts and talking soothingly to some sort of critter in his carry on bag! I couldn't help being appalled that he was more concerned about an animal than an elderly pregnant lady who was behind on her Bible reading!
When I finally boarded the crowded plane, I saw that most of the seats were taken. I nervously decided on one of the last empty seats, which happened to be between two men.
Having learned from my embarrassing mistake, I made sure to ask, "Is anyone sitting here?". The man closest to the aisle indicated that it was indeed available and I sighed with relief. I smiled as I looked at him expectantly, waiting for him to rise and let me in.
He was unmoved.
Once I could see that he had no intention of allowing me to pass without contorting my self and hugging the seat back in front of me, I wriggled and heaved and squooshed my self past him, practically ending up in his lap on my way.
Incidentally, a 5 month pregnant belly isn't easy to maneuver into a center seat past a large seated man in a crowded plane.
Both of the above incidents made me realize that I want to be sure my children, especially my son, understand how important it is to be respectful to those who are elderly or weak or even pregnant and burdened with a heavy load like I was.
On my way back home, as I was walking through two parking garages with my four heavy bags. I had to stop frequently to catch my breath. Several men passed me, not walking the opposite direction, just walking more briskly in the same direction, but none offered to help.
It made me sad and frustrated that no one was willing to give a moment's help to a pregnant lady with a heavy load.
When I relayed all of the above to my husband after arriving home, he was just as frustrated. He was also angry that no one had helped me when I obviously needed it.
We talked about how children must be taught to be polite, respectful, and helpful. It doesn't just grow in them naturally.
I think it is especially important to teach boys that one day they will be big strong men, stronger than most women, and one day they may meet up with an old pregnant lady who is struggling with her luggage.
It sure would be gentlemanly to give that lady a hand.
What do you do to instill gentlemanly attitudes in your boys?