Ladies first.

I’m not sure where the idea of ‘ladies first’ first came from, but from the time I was a little boy, my family always drilled manners into me… one of the golden rules of etiquette was always letting ladies go first. Men open doors, pull chairs out, and just generally let ladies go first.

I’m not sure if this ideal has diminished, but apparently none of the sprouts in my class have ever heard of it. Today at bus time, when there was a disagreement about who should be first in a particular bus line, I turned to Nicole and Luther and said, “Hey, Luther, how about ladies first?”

He looked at me like I had ten heads. Ladies first? Huh?

“You know what a lady is right?” I asked, thinking maybe this was part of the problem.

“A girl,” he replied.

“Right, a girl or a woman – they can all be called ‘ladies,’” I explained.

“So what?” he quipped.

“Haven’t you ever heard the saying ‘ladies first’?” I wondered.

“You notice how Mr. A. holds the door for me or often lets me go first when we’re playing a game, right?” Mrs. D. asked. Was all this respectful modeling going unnoticed?

“In my house it’s boys first!” He replied.

Oh boy.

“Has anyone heard of letting ladies go first?” I asked the remaining sprouts.

A chorus of ‘no’s’ from everyone shattered my hopes.

“Well, in our class, it’s respectful to let ladies go first sometimes,” I finished, allowing Nicole to the front of the line.

A gentleman’s work is never done.


Allie said...

We have been trying to teach my 4 year old about this, mostly to my aid as I grab his infant sister, and bags while entering our house. We tell him he is being chivalrous and a gentleman . Well fast forward to a holiday trip to the mall, he holds open the door for a lady and she says thank you to which he replies - "I am a gentleman who shivers." We were giggling too hard to explain it to the very confused woman.

Deborah said...

I hope this is not an outdated concept! At our house, we still do "Ladies First" !

Anonymous said...

Love your posts! I'm not sure I agree with you on this one though. In trying to promote equality, I can't see why we would encourage a 'ladies first' mentality'. I am all for showing respect to others, but as far as opening doors, etc for someone simply based on gender seems unfair. Am I not more helpful if I open a door for a man struggling with packages versus trying to open a door for a female holding nothing at all? Just my thinking on the subject. Please keep writing though, I read everyday!

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

Lol... so my classroom assistant last year was about twice my age and she would ALWAYS tell the kids "ladies first" and the boys would get SO mad!!!! It's definitely gone in 5 year olds today haha.

Karen Greenberg said...

My mom, a friend, and I were having a discussion that goes along with this just yesterday. We were noting that children don't seem to be embracing the same social norms of my generation (I'm in my 30s) or especially those of my mom's generation. I, playing the devil's advocate, said maybe the world is changing too much and we "old people" need to bend a little to fit into the new social norms. Although I personally hate the idea, it is an interesting thought. The world is changing and will continue to make big changes socially. Are some of our ideas of manners outdated?