“Y’all better act like you got some home-training!”

That was Momma’s stern warning each time before she took us anywhere.  When I was very young, I didn’t quite understand this ominous threat directed to my teenage siblings.  In my little brain I imagined a little toy train choo-chooing its way homeward.  But as I grew older I clearly understood those marching orders!

Momma meant “Be on your best behavior, just as I have taught you.”  Miss Daisy was a single mother with 4 kids.  And our behavior was a reflection on her.  She had trained us well and we’d better act like it especially in public!

The best behavior for a child of the South was demonstrated by saying “Yes Ma’am and No Sir. Please and Thank You.”

Such is still generally the case.  But home-training for a 1970s child of the South meant even more.

At meal times it meant waiting patiently for the blessing to be said over the food.  When we finally began to eat – Southerners are

FreeImages.com/Crissy Pauley

notoriously long-winded when speaking to the Lord – it meant using the right flatware.  This was especially important when, as often the case,  there were more forks and spoons at your table than food being offered.  I still can arrange a formal table using  the skills my Momma had taught me by age 12.

But having home-training meant more than social grace.  It meant knowing how to interact with your peers and adults (grown folks).  How to make it through this world with your dignity and teeth intact!

For example good home-training also meant saying “excuse me” if you must interrupt a conversation among the  grown folks.  But that was rare because somebody had better be bleeding or you just might be later.  A 1970s child of the South was not even allowed to remain in the same room with grown folks – be they relatives or friends or the Avon lady.  It just wasn’t done!

This blog’s QUOTES category contains sayings that remind me of the home-training I received.  Some sayings are ones I grew up with.  Others are new to me but their meanings are timeless.

Today things are much more relaxed when it comes to child-rearing.  Think “free-range” parenting.   I commend you parents who strive to teach your children manners and grace no matter where you live.  I know it can’t be easy.  Bless your heart!



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