Sunday, August 7, 2005
Good manners not just nice
By Mark Kennedy, Columnist
Lois Hearn had one of those genteel South Carolina mothers who enforced good manners with a smile and a switch.
"I can still see my brother with his arms spread out on the table,'' said Mrs. Hearn, "and I can hear my mother say, 'Art, what time does the airplane take off, dear?' ''
If the children became too unruly, Mrs. Hearn remembers, her mother would simply raise an eyebrow and nod in the direction of her purse, which everyone knew contained a folded-up switch that could make little legs dance.
In the South, we understand that our good manners frame our reputations. They are the first thing people notice when we enter a room and the calling card we leave when we walk out.
Unfortunately, good manners are not passed down to children genetically. They must be taught, polished and occasionally imposed.
For the record, I believe good manners are simply the manifestations of a good heart. Etiquette, on the other hand, involves the codified rules of polite society. In my opinion, good manners are essential, proper etiquette is pretty ritual -- like a crew rowing a boat.
Lois Hearn is convinced that some Chattanooga parents are so busy that they will pay someone to teach their kids good manners and social graces. She calls herself an etiquette consultant, and she teaches classes for children.
"Most families today have to have two incomes" Mrs. Hearn said. "The time parents have to give their children is at a minimum. Some children go to day care four or five weeks after birth. Eating at the dinner table -- where kids used to practice good manners by watching -- is rare."
Mrs. Hearn's organized etiquette training started a few years ago, when she borrowed the idea of hosting dress-up teas for little girls. Her sister, Sissy Brodie, who lives in Aiken, S.C., had become a celebrity there for her invitation-only training teas.
Seven years ago, Mrs. Hearn first gathered the young daughters of several friends and acquaintances at her home in Hixson. The girls came dressed in frilly dresses, and Mrs. Hearn supplied hats and white gloves.
"Once they put on gloves and jewelry, their personalities change," says Mrs. Hearn. "They put on little airs."
At the teas, the girls learn how to grip a tea cup, how to spoon sugar from a silver bowl and how to unfurl a napkin. They also learn the magic phrases: "Thank you" and "No thank you."
Over time, more and more parents called to inquire about the teas. Mrs. Hearn got the idea -- quite correctly as it turns out -- that she could fashion a small consulting business out of teaching children about good manners.
She had coaxed her own boys into learning good manners by constantly reminding them that they might one day be invited to Washington to eat lunch with the president of the United States -- it never happened but the lessons took.
Today, Mrs. Hearn offers a series of three, 90-minute classes for children that cover such topics as telephone etiquette, introductions, table manners (taught at a local restaurant) and conversation tips.
For information, call (423) 870-6992.
The training is practical and hands-on. For example, the kids learn precisely how to connect on a handshake and make eye contact. They gather at the popular downtown restaurant, 212 Market to learn how to break bread and wield a salad fork.
More importantly, they learn that good manners are essentially a way we each build our self-esteem and become better people.
Or as Mrs. Hearn tells her children, "Good deeds hold hands with good manners."
E-mail Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org
News for Women
Story by Rex Thompson on Wed, Nov 6th 2002 (3:55 PM)
Recent surveys indicate that Americans are ruder than ever. But good manners doesn't have to be a thing of the past.
Etiquette consultants in the Chattanooga area believe that it's not too late to teach our children the art of practicing good manners. Good manners is simply showing a little respect for others. Holding the door for a stranger is a good example. Practicing proper etiquette skills can also be very beneficial in many situations including social and business areas. Proper etiquette must also be practiced while dining as well.
Lois Hearn is an etiquette consultant here in Chattanooga and she say's that it is essential that we begin teaching our children good manners and etiquette and a very early age. Hearn believes that the American decline in good etiquette began when women started entering the work force. With less time being spent with their children she feels that the art of good manners just seem to disappear. Hearn holds etiquette class on a regular basis and if you would like to schedule your child for a class you can reach her at 870-6992.
This story appeared in The Times Free Press on Tuesday, April 3, 2001
Hospital tea party a happy time
By Mary Fortune Staff Writer
Mariah Edmiston has spent a lot of time in hospitals.
At 6 years old, she has already had numerous surgeries to correct a facial deformity and to treat several other health problems. For the past four years, Mariah and her mother have repeatedly made the 125-mile trip from Sunbright, Tenn., to T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital in Chattanooga.
But Monday's trip was special -- particularly for a little girl with a penchant for fancy hats and dress-up parties. Volunteer and Craniofacial Foundation member Lois Hearn hosted a formal tea at the hospital in Mariah's honor -- complete with tiny sandwiches, iced cookies and a little silver tea set.
"It helps the children forget what all they're going through for a little while," said Ms. Hearn, an etiquette consultant who gives tea parties and deportment lessons for adults when she isn't hosting these special parties for the small patients of the Tennessee Craniofacial Center at Erlanger hospital.
"They see that not everybody at the hospital is there to poke and prod them," she said.
Mariah had surgery on March 22 to install a device that will draw the middle portion of her face forward a millimeter a day, correcting a defect caused by a congenital condition called Crouzon Syndrome.
The device pulls at sutures in the bone, creating gaps, and the bone grows into the gaps and fills them, said Dr. Larry Sargent, the craniofacial surgeon who has operated on Mariah several times. Ultimately, the center of Mariah's face will be advanced 20 to 30 millimeters over several weeks, and then the bone will be allowed to heal for four to six weeks, Dr. Sargent said.
Mariah spent a week in the hospital after the surgery, and then found out Thursday that she would be the guest of honor at this special tea party, said her mother, Jennifer Bostic.
"She's been looking forward to it all weekend," Ms. Bostic said. "The dressing up, the whole thing. It's a party. She loves a party."
Mariah selected a lavender dress to wear to the party, and chose napkins shaped like butterflies to place on the table. During the tea party, Mariah placed a few delicacies on her plate, sipped apple juice through a straw and peered out from under her fancy purple hat.
The little girl didn't say much, but her smile was all Ms. Hearn needed to see, she said.
"I love the smiles," said Ms. Hearn.
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