Monday, August 9, 2010

Nobody Knows How to Waltz Anymore

I have something to say.
It may offend some of you, but please know that isn't my intent at all. I've actually written this post half a dozen times before and then walked away from it because I was worried about hurting someone's feelings. But I just need to say my bit and then be done with it.

Nobody knows how to waltz anymore.

Let that sink in.

Now, altogether say, "huh?"

It is a bit of an inside statement, but I'm going to elaborate.

Years ago Sambo and I performed in a musical theatre group for our church. Sometimes it was awesome, sometimes it was really cheesy and sometimes it was just a bunch of college kids being themselves. No matter what I loved it.

There were a lot of songs that at first listen were kind of, ahem, lame (sorry!). But, when you got past the presentation and heard the heart of what the song was trying to tell you, a lot could be learned.

This was the case with a song called "Nobody Knows How to Waltz Anymore". It was written by Steven Kapp Perrys (for those who aren't Mo Mo, Kapp Perry's are like Osmonds in regards to songwriting. If you MO, you KNOW the KP clan. And yes that was me being gangsta for today. Its a Monday and I'm tired.)

I always remember my friends Tania and Isaac dancing together while singing this song and it makes me chuckle because they were trying to maneuver with these mikes in hand and it was just awkward sometimes. But it worked, it truly did work.

The point of the song was that nobody has any civility anymore. We don't know how to waltz, we're too busy bumping and grinding (which takes no talent or knowledge and really isn't all that fun to witness when all is said and done). It was just a commentary on how society has lost its... manners.

I love that song.

And it brings me to the point.

Have you ever heard a 3 year old walk up to an adult they kind of know and say, "Hey Kimber." (Or the first name of whoever the child is talking to.) The first time I heard it was at church and it was disconcerting to say the least. It was a child who played with one of my kids and I was surprised at how... wrong it sounded to me.

Have you ever seen someone interrupt a police officer by calling them, not officer, not Mr, but "Sam" or whatever their first name is? Its rude, pure and simple.

We have no civility. We have forgotten how to waltz.

The reason we call our elders Mr. or Mrs. or Sir or Brother or whatever the social situation should require is to show a sign of respect for those older and mostly wiser than us.

The reason we call aunts and uncles Aunt whoever or Uncle whoever is again, showing respect for our elder. Most of us don't call our parents by their first names. And I think none of us should. Those people gave us life, fed us and clothed us (for the most part, I realize there are exceptions to this rule and to the exceptions, do your thang), our parents deserve respect to be shown to them.

People who serve our community in an official capacity should be called by their title when they are in that capacity and out in public places.

Kids should call adults Mr or Mrs, Brother or Sister... whatever you do that shows a bit of formality and again, respect for others.

I know some of you are rolling your eyes. How old fashioned! How backwards! We are a progressive society and besides, WE are too young to be called Mr or Miss or Mrs.

I'm only going to say this once: You are wrong to think that.

Our society is missing something important right now. I'm not sure how to get all of it back, but I know a great first step would be the return of civility. Less of the raw bump and grind and more of the refined waltz. This world could use a coming generation of people who use their manners, show their elders and those in official positions respect. For Pete's sake, a generation that shows ALL people regardless of race, religion, political leanings etc. respect!

Wouldn't you agree?
Wait, turn on the news, go outside and listen to today's youth for a few days. NOW, wouldn't you agree?

So, you may be asking, what am I proposing?

Well, it is simple and yet it isn't. I know this because it is an uphill battle for us in our family due to society's current norms.

Teach your kids to address their elders with respect and do the same yourself.
It is trickier than it sounds.

We don't let our kids call people Bill or Jill or whatever. It is Mr. Smith or Mrs. Johnson. At church we use the term "Brother Smith" or Sister Johnson" and if a kiddo doesn't know an adults name but they know their kid's name I have heard them say "Toby's mom" or what have you. It just feels right for us when we hear our kids addressing other adults in a respectful manner.

It is hard sometimes too. So many adults will say, "I'm too young to be Mr. Smith, call me Bill," and we have interjected if we are present and told that adult that we don't allow our kids to call adults by their first name, but if they have another term we are open to it (and we've had some Mr. Bills or Uncle Bills come out that way which we sometimes go for).
Our kids have reached the age that when an adult says something about calling them by their first name, they will say, "we can't, our mom and dad say no"... which is a whole new can of worms I'm going to briefly touch on. Don't mess with other parents' rules, never a good plan. If mom and dad have specifically told a kid to do or not do something and the kid understands that enough to tell you that, you'd better just back away slowly or risk serious parental wrath. 
The end.

Either way, if you are old enough to live on your own, maybe be married with kids of your own, you are old enough to be Mr or Mrs whatever. Sorry,  you are old just like me.

In order to teach our children we will need to lead by example.
It will take a bit of concious effort on our part, but I think it is doable. Plus, who knows who may be listening to how we speak to others and who we may influence to do a little "waltzing" too.

At the end of the day, what will it really hurt to show others respect in this teeny tiny form?
It doesn't make me less of a woman and it doesn't make my husband less of a man. And it really doesn't make my kids less of what they are... kids. Though it may make them sound less like the hooligans they are.

So there you have it. I hope I haven't rubbed anyone the wrong way because that really wasn't my plan.
But please know, the next time my kids call you Mr or Mrs or something else a bit more formal, we are trying to teach them to "waltz" and we hope you will understand that it is important to us. You can come along for the dance or you can sit and watch, either way works for us.

Thanks for letting me say that.
(Oh and here is a little clip of that song... can't find it anywhere anymore! CLICK HERE)


  1. Go Mrs. Tower!!!! I totally agree with you! I see a LOT of manners missed in society today. I've even been told that my son has the best manners of a 2 1/2 year old that they've ever seen! Thank you for posting!

  2. DITTO! My mom always made sure we didn't call adults by their first name. Now it drives me crazy when little kids call me Sandi. It just sounds so snotty and rude, like demanding something and not saying "please." My kids will always use a Mr. Mrs. Sis Br. Aunt or Uncle. I even have to correct my nieces and nephews. (I just don't answer them until they say "Aunt Sandi"

  3. Its funny, I was totally thinking about this today. You're right. I need to do a much better job teaching my kids respect for people older than them. Thanks for the inspiration. :)

  4. I ABSOLUTELY AGREE! Even when I first got married almost a decade ago and didn't have any kids - I wanted my friends' children to still address me as "Sister Simon", but then when I had kids, they all would tell them (in front of me) - "Oh just call me Cassidy" or whatever their name was. It was so frustrating! They still call Cassidy "Cassidy", but we've moved and hardly see her anymore. Every other adult they are more respectful to - and if they don't know their "formal" name - they resort to "teacher" or "Andy's mom" or whatever like you said. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to find something (younger then me!) who also see's this side of it. Bless you Kimber (er- Sister Tower). :)

  5. Kimber, I really loved this. I agree with you 100%. It doesn't really bother me when other kids call me "Becca", but I like my kids to use the proper name prefixes. I do think we are lacking that essential element of civility in our society in general. There was a great press release from the church last October called "The Mormon Ethic of Civility." It was specifically geared toward civil behavior in political discussions, but I think the idea should be carried into other aspects of our lives and conversations. Thanks for speaking up.

  6. LOVE THIS! I wish that everyone felt the same way I do but sadly they don't... But its nice to know some people do. When I was a YWs leader I was a nazi about this... since I've been out they've slipped into calling the other leaders by their first names, but I am still Sis. Sundquist. Amen, sista'!

  7. Kimber, I appreciate your message. I wish more people could see it. I am in total agreement, although I must admit that I don't voice any complaint when children call me by my first name. I will change that. the way, I knew I liked all of the Janes family!!! I read your blog because I am Jade's mom-in-law and you are both fabulous writers!!!
    Sister Kelli Stellmon

  8. Amen. This first really started bothering me a few years ago when an neighbor child would say "Kar-ee-aynn" in a really whiney voice. It was like nails on the chalkboard. Since then, my kids use titles. Although I must admit that we need to work on the Aunt/Uncle thing.

  9. The song's available on Spotify. It's on one of my favourite albums ever. Thanks for the article, Sister Tower. I'm kind o0f spending all of my church time at the single's branch right now, so the only children around me are my little brothers. They can call me Alex. But as soon as I have my own children, I'll be teaching them to waltz. Literally and figuratively.


    Well, maybe not as soon as I have them. They should probably learn to walk first.