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Manners Maketh Middle Class

By Pearl Bullivant on October 17, 2014 in Other

Photo: Tanya Trum

Photo: Tanya Trum

As the ‘purveyor’ of middle class issues, it should come as no surprise that a preschool in the uber-gentrified suburb of Rozelle has incorporated an eight-week ‘manners training’ program into its curriculum. And, of course, the training program comes with the awarding of a medal at the end, just to reinforce how special (and rare) the employment of good manners is in this busy, hectic world of the affluent, educated middle class.

Having resided in the Darling Street enclave when it was teetering on the cusp of gentrification, it really does come as no surprise that manners training is now part of part preschool education. No trendy hipster Balmain soiree is complete without introductions as pretentious as: “Hi, I’m John and I’m a photographer, and this is my wife Liz, a costume designer. In fact, she’s currently designing a costume for …” and conversations as cutting edge as: “Steve used to do heroin at uni, but doesn’t EVERYONE do heroin at some stage of their life?” Yikes! I suppose the experience prepared me well for Clovelly.

Seriously, though, why on Earth do middle class children from affluent, educated families require manners training? It’s like the resilience-training fad, which seems to have died in the arse. These children have parents who are socially hip and aware, can afford childcare and real estate in Rozelle, and delight in showing how smart they are in their choice of organic, gluten-free food and in their suspicion of vaccines – surely they are equipped to teach their children the niceties of life?

Despite the gentry’s education, wealth and superior attitude, one only has to look at the behavior in the Eastern Suburbs to know that manners are not their forte. How can ever-so-cute Emerson, whose mummy routinely parks in disabled parking bays, know that it’s not right to grab Kiana in a headlock when he wants her ball? And little London will never know that it’s not okay to shout out in class when his mum spends all her time yelling on her mobile in traffic. Wouldn’t it make more sense to get to the root of the problem – the parents – and train them in the art of good behavior, which they can then pass on to their kiddies before they hand them over to long suffering, underpaid childcare workers?

Thankfully, Pearl is here to help. There’s nothing I enjoy more than the smug impartment of knowledge to those whose ‘lifestyle’ is far superior to my own. Here are just a few tips, as my word count is limited and I don’t want anyone getting too stressed:

• Don’t brag in public. There’s nothing worse than jogging through Centennial Park and overhearing a MAMIL on a $15k racing bike loudly pontificating about his huge salary. Is it any wonder that little Garrison is known for his overt bragging and one-upmanship at preschool?

• Park ‘mindfully’ (Yummy Mummies love anything reeking of yoga). Nix the double park, for Christ’s sake, and teach your preschooler the value of free exercise outside of the gym and Nintendo Wii. The same goes for school pick-up. That way Hadley won’t assume that everyone is chauffeured in a Lexus, and maybe it will put an end to her bullying.

• Ditch the deadly iPhone-4WD combo. Rushing out of the $1.5 million architecturally-renovated semi, jumping into the Range Rover and immediately pressing the mobile to one’s ear does not help Isadora learn that it’s not okay to perilously dangle Hudson on the noose created by her skipping rope.

Sweeties, three easy behavior modifications – that’s all it takes to make the lives of all teachers easier.

Pearl xxx