An open letter to (you know who you are)

by Jennifer on May 12, 2009

image courtesy of Google Images

courtesy Google Images

Where have all the manners gone?

Last night was The Girl’s violin concert at school. Our school has a Suzuki program, and for this event, all the second and third grade classes perform a few songs, one class a time.

As they  waited for their turn, all the other classes sat on the floor in front of the stage to watch the concert.

But, over the sounds of “Lightly Row” and “Song Of the Wind,” all I could hear was the talking.

The talking, the talking, the talking.

More than a murmur or a low hum of voices, it was a full-on gabfest.

Oh, but it wasn’t the kids. I was sitting a few rows back, but from where I sat they seemed to be a pretty quiet, well-behaved bunch.

Nope, the voices belonged to the grown-ups in the room. The example-setters. The parents.

And I’m pretty sure that their leader was the woman behind me on her cell phone.

I mean, come on.

You can’t tell me that the average adult doesn’t know how to behave at a recital. Even if the crowd applied the lowest standard of movie-going behavior to last night’s concert, most everyone would have sat there, shutting the hell UP. I’m not even talking about fancy, which-fork-do-I-use manners. Who doesn’t know this?

It wasn’t just a few people, is what was so stunning to me. Fully one third to one half of the crowd had to be talking in order to make the noise I heard. While their children and grandchildren stood up on stage and played their hearts out. Some of them, I’m sure, nervous and worried about how they might do.

And that’s what really bugs me. At the core, manners are about respect, and about making others more comfortable in any situation.

So what if we weren’t sitting there listening to Susan Boyle. Because, you know what? I don’t know her. I know my kid. And I love my kid. And I wanted her to feel great up there.

Of course, the other parents in that room love their kids, too, and wanted them to do well.

It’s just too bad that so many of them couldn’t show a little bit of respect for their own children – never mind showing a little respect for my daughter, and for all the others.

And never mind setting an example for them.

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

tysdaddy May 12, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Yep. Preach it!

Tomorrow night is my daughter’s fifth-grade musical. And, if tradition continues, there will be talking. And I will be fuming and NOT being nice. I will be giving the stare and NOT giving a shit what they think.

Bastards . . .

Chris May 12, 2009 at 3:38 pm

You are preaching to the choir on this one. I’m with you. Completely. It’s a very frustrating situation when adults aren’t subscribing to the rules of common courtesy… how can we have hope for these kids?

I hope your daughter wasn’t distracted and felt she had an attentive audience. Grrrrr.

Lennie May 12, 2009 at 3:41 pm

I don’t know what else to say but …. I agree with you completely. I don’t know what has happened to simple manners; how hard is it to be respectful, to say please and thank you, to not interrupt, etc etc. — how hard? What a shame that some parents are raising their children this way — don’t they know that children learn by what their parents DO, not what they say they do?

Smalltown Mom May 12, 2009 at 4:14 pm

You have hit on one of my pet peeves. People are so disrespectful lately. And they are raising their children to be the same way.

Indigo May 12, 2009 at 4:24 pm

I don’t get it some times. The same people who drink in abandon when they take their kids to hockey games, or baseball games. When it comes to kids there is no excuse for behavior like that.

As for cell phones, I truly believe very few have any etiquette with them these days. I was highly perturbed to see a woman enter a restaurant with her cell phone on, sit down continue talking when the waitress came over and literally ignore her company and not put the phone down the entire time she was there. If you can’t put your phone down long enough to enjoy the beauty and company you have in life…I find life sorely lacking for you. (Hugs)Indigo

Indigo May 12, 2009 at 4:25 pm

I meant those individuals, not YOU per say. It’s a bad habit I have with writing. Indy

Thumbelina May 12, 2009 at 4:25 pm

My goodness that is disGRACEful. Truly disgraceful.

I am with you 100% on this and I don’t know how you held your tongue – I think I might have got all school ma’am – ish on them. Especially the cell phone one.

Hope your daughter was pleased with her recital and that you got to hear her. Hope it didn’t shatter her confidence but showed her an example of how NOT to act. These people should be ashamed of themselves.

I truly hope not so much that they read this, although that would be a start, but more that they actually realise what they have done and truly cringe, truly feel bad. Because that would mean they would not do it again.

Wow. It touched a button on me. Sorry I wrote so much. (((hugs)))

we_be_toys May 12, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Pretty sad indeed. I’m convinced the advent of cell phones was the final nail in Emily Post’s coffin. I hope you gave her the evil eye – I know I would have!

Jennifer Harvey May 12, 2009 at 5:04 pm

She was right behind me, so all I had to do was turn my head and the man with her told her she had to get off the phone.

I wish I could/would have taken the microphone between class performances and reminded everyone how hard the teachers and students had worked and to STFU. Or something nicer, and more mannerly. 🙂

skywind May 12, 2009 at 5:08 pm

If some way disappeared. We can use our hearts to touch the world, will be more clear answer.
Health information & Humor & Fun World

Mrs. Schmitty May 12, 2009 at 6:09 pm

That’s horrible…they should be ashamed!

Heather May 12, 2009 at 7:09 pm

What is WRONG with people these days? Too many people have such a sense of entitlement and I just don’t get it. Why do they think they’re so special?

Mojo May 12, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Regrettably this isn’t limited to parents at grade school recitals. My son is a music ed major in college and related a tale of how other music majors showed a similar disregard for their peers at a recital at Crane School of Music. This was one of several reasons he transferred to UNC Greensboro his junior year.

I’m really saddened by this. It seems entirely wrong that people who would go out to the lobby to make a call during Spiderman 3 can’t be bothered to show the same respect for the performers — and the audience for that matter — at a recital. Of course, the movie is being shown in 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, so maybe it’s just too hard to hear the person on the other end.

Yeah, that must be it.

Write From Karen May 12, 2009 at 7:59 pm

OMG! That is exactly what happened to us tonight! My son had his band concert and my husband and I had to turn around and GLARE at the idiots behind us who would not shut up! I video taped the performance and I’ll be surprised if we can hear the music at over their blabbing.

They finally got the hint and shut up, but their son continued on for the rest of the concert and they didn’t once ask him to be quiet.

We. Were. Furious.

The Redheaded Lefty May 12, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Bravo you. So true. That is unacceptable. Makes me sad.

Jenn @ Juggling Life May 12, 2009 at 9:57 pm

I don’t understand why the authority figure–probably the Principal in this case–doesn’t make an announcement and then boot people who still talk. We are so afraid of being perceived as rude ourselves that we let others get away with rudeness.

I’m the person that says something. I could care less if a rude person thinks I’m a beyotch. This is a total hot-button issue for me.

Sturdy Girl May 13, 2009 at 3:44 am

If it wasn’t for the parents, I would have truly enjoyed these kinds of things.

jenrantsraves May 13, 2009 at 5:04 am

Oh man, stuff like this makes me just about postal. I would have been the one to actually tell people to STFU. Or, took the woman’s phone and chucked it against the wall. You know, something classy.

Mrs. Chili May 13, 2009 at 5:17 am

And we wonder why our kids are so disrespectful. Oy.

Dharmamama May 13, 2009 at 6:03 am

I have stood up before in a speaker’s presentation (a speaker!) and said, “Excuse me! There is a speaker here! If you need to talk, please leave the room.” Yep, people glared and people tittered. But *somebody* had to be the grownup! I think that’s what people are afraid of – being the uncool adult.

Too bad none of the school personnel was willing to do that.

Emily R May 13, 2009 at 7:33 am

In those situations, I say “SHHHHH!” really loudly, and then sit there innocently hoping no one noticed it was me. I’m such a b-tch.

Green Girl in Wisconsin May 13, 2009 at 8:08 am

Oh I’d have been SO MAD. I despise that–especially when we’re supposed to be setting the example for the kids both performing and in the audience. Shame on them!

Gwen May 13, 2009 at 8:46 am


They were probably talking about all the things that are wrong with the school, too.

Daryl May 13, 2009 at 9:58 am

Sadly this is not the exception but the rule … what is so important you had to be rude while someone was performing? I dont care whose kids were performing when you are in an audience you STFU .. the only acceptable words are BRAVO or BRAVA .. and ENCORE

Lapsed Pastafarian May 13, 2009 at 11:47 am

Two weeks ago….Science Fair Awards. Worst headache imaginable. Thanks audience.

Coco May 13, 2009 at 12:00 pm

I am SO with you on this. Nothing makes me more P.O.’d than idiot adults who talk loudly and incessantly at inappropriate times. The bluetooth headset people tend to be the worst, with regualr cell phone users right behind them.

It’s like people on headsets/cell phones somehow think a magic bubble grows around them while they blather on endlessly about their mystery rash or whatever. Some kind of invisible phone booth, maybe? I do a lot of glaring.

Jeanne May 13, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Absolutely! I have been in may social situaltions in the past year or so when I felt what you just described. I think whats funny is we used to be a society that when we were not at home, we simply could not be reached by phone/IM/texting – which in turn meant that if you were watching your childs ball game or Christmas concert you were REALLY present…you could focus on your child for that hour or two and really be there for them. Now people cannot seem to be “disconnected” from their cell phone or palm organizer for fear they may stop breathing! It’s getting to be a bit much and inmany situations rude. And dare…I say is that parenting? I have been to my opwn son’s functions where parents – time after time don’t even bother to show up – but some that do spend the time talking and/or texting….isn’t that pretty much the same? Ok – your body is there, but where is your attention, your focus and your energy…on your child? Not if your talking or textimg. I say put down the gadgets for an hour or two, attend to your child’s needs, give THEM your attention and energy because I am pretty sure thats more important than who got a new pair of shoes or whats goin on at the office at 8pm!! Parents ARE the example – let’s be a good one.

fancy feet May 13, 2009 at 2:25 pm

I am sooo with you! It is about respect. It’s a shame (and I sound so OLD when I say that) that many of us don’t know, after all these years of being grown-ups, how to be still and pay attention.

Marinka May 13, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Yes, that sucks. It’s always a little shocking when adults behave worse than their children. Sorry that this happened.

Lisa Milton May 13, 2009 at 5:01 pm

We have it here too, at our orchestra concerts.

And the theatre.

And church.

It’s rampant, this rudeness and I don’t know how we get back to the basics of good manners.

david mcmahon May 13, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Manners – it never goes out of style!

Kimberly May 13, 2009 at 6:52 pm

That’s ridiculously rude. And sad. My daughter’s dance recital is next month – I hope everyone in attendance reads this post and sits respectfully through the whole thing.

Jessica May 13, 2009 at 10:15 pm

please don’t even get me started with this stuff. I wrote a post about exactly this. I was at a concert last year and literally, this guy was on his cellphone while his cousin was on stage and even though his aunt kept hitting his leg he would not hang up. Argh!!!

flutter May 13, 2009 at 10:51 pm

seriously, so very very rude.

Hilary May 14, 2009 at 6:29 am

I remember those days and frustrations so well. Back when my kidlets were in school and performing. That was before the proliferation of cell phones too. I just can’t imagine.

Autumn May 14, 2009 at 9:36 am

I can’t stand those people. Every school program, every movie, every single thing has at least one cell phone person these days. Turn it off for five minutes, you know? Even in the drive thru at a fast food place, you get stuck waiting behind someone who is confusing the workers by talking on the phone and ordering at the same time. It’s insanity!

Jewels May 15, 2009 at 8:39 am

I HATE rudness above all else. I blame cell phones. We are such mulittaskers now that we have to multitask ALL the time. As in… Hmmm I will go to my daughters recites and also fullfill my need for social interaction at the same time. SLOW DOWN people. Doing one thing at a time is ok. Life is much sweeter when we all stop to enjoy the little moments.

Ooops. I just ranted on your blog didn’t I? How rude!

Great writing, and intersting post that I believe will make us all re-evaluate how we act in social settings.

Janine May 15, 2009 at 11:25 am

Excellent post! Congrats on your POTD! ~Janine XO

Debbie Davis May 15, 2009 at 11:35 am

Congrats on the Post of the Day Award from authorblog!

Jeni Hill Ertmer May 15, 2009 at 12:48 pm

This was an excellent post and well-deserving of David’s POTD!
I’ve been rather fortunate I guess, in that I haven’t yet attended any of the kids or now the grandkids, concerts and been distracted by the noise. But, were that to happen to me, I would have no qualms about turning and asking someone to either take their conversation elsewhere or be quiet -one way or another!
My kids will tell you when they were youngsters, I was a stickler for “sit up and shut up” attitude towards them and their behavior -even if there was no noise involved, just a little extra movement that might possibly antagonize another sibling and such. They knew a look from Mom with the “evil eye” -or as my older daughter called it “The Hairy Eyeball” that if the look came at them a second time, there was gonna be hell to pay later!
RIght now, we’re in the process of trying to teach my granddaughter and younger grandson -ages 5 and 3 respectively -how to behave properly in church and such places. However, because both the kids are autistic, this is a very slow and sometimes, quite diffiicult, often unpleasant process for us as well as for those around us. We try to find ways that they can self-entertain in church settings and such but the attention span often wanes and when it does, if we can’t get the little offender back on track, one of us takes that child out to the narthex. Plays, concerts, things of that nature right now are completely out of the question, as you can imagine. The granddaughter, age 5, does pretty well now but her little brother it the true noisemaker these days. But, if we don’t take them and try to teach them, they will end up having no social skills for settings as you descirbed above either.
Don’t be afraid of offending people who deliberately create a disturbance as I doubt they would also have the comprehension levels to be offended.
And, along these same lines, did anyone see the press conference the other day with one of President Obama’s honchos -can’t remember who now but either the Press Secretary or a Secretary of something -who was so annoyed and upset by reporters with their celll phones ringing, he stopped in mid-stream a couple of times and asked them to turn them off and when a few apparently didn’t comply, he even went so far as to request one reporter hand his phone over to him. Another reporter from one of the major networks, got a call and he simply refused to turn the phone over but left the room instead. Now those people should certainly have the understanding of etiquette in a setting like that but yet -well, apparently they don’t!

JCK May 15, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Stuff like this makes me nutty!

EWian May 17, 2009 at 3:29 pm

That is no way to honour you kid, that is totally disrespectful, I agree with Thumbelina so not a point repeating that. Grate post.


NATUI May 19, 2009 at 8:36 pm

The older I get, the more of a shusher I am becoming. I am sure my kids will be horribly embarrassed by me, but that kind of behaviour irks me to no end. Great post.

Treasia/Truckerswife May 23, 2009 at 10:14 am

I know exactly what you mean and know exactly how you feel as well. My Princess graduated high school Thursday night. I expected to hear mothers crying softly, father’s sniffing and not pretending to and loud applause for when each name was called. Instead I could barely hear anything over the parents and visitors talking in a normal tone of voice or louder to be heard over the other parents. I barely heard when they called my daughter’s name to accept her diploma. People need to teach respect more by showing respect.

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