I grew up with two older brothers, so I thought I knew boys. It turns out that as a little sister, I could get away with a lot more than I can with the two boys I am raising. My big brothers let me put pink and yellow bow clips in their hair as long as they didn’t have to get up from the couch. My older brother would look at himself in the mirror, strike a pose, and say, “ooh, I’m so fancy.” It made me laugh.
With our boys, if we ever suggest going out to eat, my ten-year-old says, “I don’t want to go some place fancy.” By this, he means any place where you sit down with a menu. We often insist that we are going to go to a “fancy” place anyway. Along those lines, there are some other “fancy” traits that I want to pass along to my boys.
Whether it’s a stranger serving you at a fancy restaurant with a menu or your dad bringing you some chocolate milk, it’s important to take the time to acknowledge the gesture.
We’re nearing the age where the favorite form of non-verbal communication with the ten-year-old is an eye roll, and the six-year-old pouts his lip out so far that I’m afraid I’ll trip over it. I immediately take a picture of their surly face and show it back to them and say, “is this how you smile?” It still gets a laugh, and laughs are contagious.
Manners still go a long way. I was a bit of a tomboy myself. Actually, I was a total tomboy, but I never relished in the joy they do with burping. My husband, their father and role model, then shows them that he can burp louder. That doesn’t help. Sometimes the best I can do is remind them that there’s a time and place for everything, and make sure all of them say “excuse me.”
4. Eye Contact
Sometimes I just need them to look at me, but there are so many other places their eyes can be. It’s hard to compete with all the screens. Sometimes, we use the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach, and pile up on the couch with them, but sometimes we have to shut everything down, against their will and just look at their face, and talk to them.
This is a big, fancy word, and perhaps the most difficult. It’s hard to teach attitude, especially in the face of disappointment. You never wish for your kids to be disappointed, but you also know it’s a necessary lesson to learn. Like our friend Fancy Nancy, they have to learn to walk tall, sure of who they are with no resentment for those around them who might have more than they have. Nancy teaches all of us that we can’t always be the star. There is, as Nancy discovers, often great joy in just being who you are.
Fancy is more than feather boas and tiaras. A grown-up tomboy like me can learn to be confident in high heels, and two rambunctious boys can learn how to behave with grace. Fancy is part of the journey, friends, but totally worthwhile. Au revoir!
So, remember to bring your boys and girls to see Fancy Nancy: The Musical while you still have a chance. The show runs through October 25 and tickets can be purchased at dct.org!