A recent wedding that I had the honor to provide service for was a lovely affair. There was a lot of love, a lot of respect for others’ feelings and a general united wish for the couple’s future happiness.

…And I know the Earth will keep revolving on its axis, but why in the world would a parent allow their pre-teen boys to attend this beautiful event in cargo shorts, T-shirts and athletic shoes? The parents looked fine, but the boys looked like they were going to a soccer game.

I really don’t want to come off as a curmudgeon (I have only recently learned that I’m ‘kind of old’). Believe me when I say this matter has nothing to do with crabby old men; it has to do with 40-ish-year-old parents not teaching their children to respect others. In this case, they were being very disrespectful to the bridal couple, both sets of parents and other ‘kind-of-old’ people like myself—people who understand that a wedding is a sacred rite. At the very least, it’s an extra-special event that requires adults and children to look and act their very best.

These two boys were great-looking kids, and I get that they are innocent. You should have seen the widened eyes, the raised eyebrows and the slight tsk! tsk! that escaped closed lips when they entered the church’s vestibule.

I don’t buy the argument that They grow so fast, it’s just a waste of money. If anyone dares use this, my retort is try the ScholarShop or The Resale Shop at National Council of Jewish Women, where they could pick up a jacket for less than $10—all they would need would be some nice trousers and good shoes. I always had to wear a tie, but even without one, had these boys worn the jacket and trousers with a nice shirt, no one would have thought a thing.

A few days later, I went to a funeral mass, where two of the pall-bearers were in short-sleeved shirts. These men were never taught to do what was proper as a child, and it carried over into their adulthood. Learning to do what is proper is the job of the parents.

Growing up, I thought we were just like everyone else. (I only realized at age 60 that we really didn’t have a lot.) But, we were always dressed appropriately for funerals, weddings, eating dinner in restaurants, going to church services and holidays (with our grandparents, aunts, uncles and their properly dressed children). Maybe it was because I had so many cousins, the blazers, suits and jackets were handed down to another smaller cousin when we outgrew them.

We were purposely taught how to eat properly—closing our mouths while chewing and cutting our meat one bite at a time. I remember being taught never to put our elbows on the table, to wipe our mouths with our napkins before taking a drink, and to put our dirty napkins in our chair if we had to excuse ourselves during the meal. The thought of putting anything dirty onto a dinner table still rings in my ears (excuse the pun) when I see cell phones on tables. We never had them, but every child 10 and older has one today. Can you even imagine the germs on that cell phone? The next time you go to a restaurant, look around and see how many bacteria-laden cell phones are on the tables.

One lesson that has proved over and over again to be priceless was the one we learned on how to address adults and engage them in conversation. Hello Mr. and Mrs. Jones, thank you so much for including us in the wonderful party for John and Mary. Or, maybe not all that, but we never answered an adult with a ‘nah’ or a ‘yeah.’

My demeanor as a respectful child, one who is properly socially educated, has come in very handy in life, many more times than I can count.

My mom was a widow with a boat-load of kids. We were always polite, socially savvy and above all, respectful. We never asked, but if we had asked Why? I’m sure the answer would have been: Because you’re my children and I feel this is important.

A recent trip to a grocery store had me rushing home to the quiet and peace of my own home. A young mother of three was pushing a cart as her three children were filling it, screaming at each other. They were standing in the cold air from an open freezer door, and yelling at their mom when she would reject any of their choices. About two aisles away, I could hear one of them yell, Mom! I gotta pee!

I wince when I try to imagine my own mother in a similar situation. That’s an extra-large OMG!, for sure. Do you know what has happened to us, her children? We can eat out in public, we can wear what is proper to weddings, funerals, the theater. (Don’t get me going on that.)

The synopsis is that all of us are socially, professionally and personally successful people. We can take our children and our grandchildren shopping with us and can attend any wedding. I know my mom would be very proud of all of us. All of us are very proud of her for a job well done. Thanks, Mom.

Wedding expert John Sullivan has worked with partner Ken Miesner for 40 years at Ken Miesner's Flowers, where they have collaborated for some 1,200 weddings! 'Like' him on Facebook under 'Wedding Wisdom,' where guests are welcome to post pictures, and leave comments and opinions.

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