Long ago, we had men who raced to the door to prove that their mothers had raised them right. They were men who wouldn’t use a four-letter word in the presence of long eyelashes, not even if you threatened them with soap operas.

I’m at the bank. I’m standing in a line that is one hundred miles long. I’m in the rear. The line is not moving.

I would rather have open heart surgery administered by Howdy Doody than wait in line.

Through the doors, I see a woman, walking across the parking lot. I’m trotting toward the door to open it for her.

This is because I was raised by women. Polite behavior was beaten into me with hairbrushes and unabridged King James Bibles. I believe in opening doors for anyone you’d refer to as ma’am, miss, or Mama.

But someone beats me to the door.

A boy in line. He is twelve, thirteen maybe. He’s here with his mother. He swings it open.

“Thank you,” the woman says, grinning.

Two more women are strolling through the parking lot. The boy flies into action. He opens the door.

They thank him. They even call him “sir.”

He likes this.

Here comes another. She’s waltzing toward the door, talking on her phone. You ought to see the surprise on her face when the kid pulls the Open Sesame trick.

She giggles. “Aren’t you sweet?”

Yes, he is.

And I remember a time when most men were. “Gentleman,” my granddaddy would’ve called them. “Polite,” Mama would’ve called it.

I call it being considerate. And I believe in it.

Long ago, we had men who raced to the door to prove that their mothers had raised them right. They were men who wouldn’t use a four-letter word in the presence of long eyelashes, not even if you threatened them with soap operas.

But those days are evaporating. And I don’t like saying it, but the world has changed.

Even so, some of us still remember our Mama, reminding us to treat every girl, woman, and granny better than the Queen of England.

I asked the boy’s mother how her son became such a knight in shining blue jeans.

“Oh,” she said. “Probably ‘cause he lives with a bunch’a women.”

I get it. The boy is in a house full of estrogen. All he knows is Mama, Granny, and sisters. I grew up the same way.

“His nana’s taught him good,” says the woman. “She’s got him standing whenever a girl walks in a room, taking his hat off in buildings, offering his chair…”

Good old Nana.

While we talk, the kid darts toward the door. He opens it for a woman with silver hair. When she sees him, she’s four decades younger.

I like this kid.

I like him because I want to be him. I like him because I was reared by soft hands. My childhood home was nothing but scented candles, throw pillows, and Guideposts magazines.

I believe in women. Just as much as I believe in Heaven. And in love.

I believe women are magnificent. I believe they deserve more than what they get. I believe that no matter what their height, weight, hair-color, or dress size, they are precious.

And I believe we ought to demonstrate it. I believe in holding the door.

This little boy. You ought to see him hold the door with his puny arm. He’s young. And he’s blissfully unaware of what he’s doing.

He’s not just being a man. He’s showing us all how to be one.

God bless that kid’s nana.

And God bless my mama.

38 comments

  1. Kenneth Ray - September 13, 2018 1:13 pm

    At the next feminist convention, we should air drop thousands of boys like this, like the 101st airborne over France in WWII. They might realize that equal rights for women is a step backward….

    Reply
  2. Susannah Wilson-Robey - September 13, 2018 1:40 pm

    Wow!! Sean, you are an amazing person. Each day I look forward to reading your post. You set me in the right direction each day with a lighter step, and a sweeter outlook. You were raised by wonderful people, and you gathered many good qualities by listening and following the Southern bylaws…”do unto others”. Today, manners are not taught as they were when I was growing up. Sad. Thank you for sharing your upbringing in lovely words, and your present day life. You are a Gentleman, and a Scholar❤

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  3. Sandi in FL. - September 13, 2018 1:45 pm

    How wonderful that the young gentleman at the bank has been taught such splendid manners and respect for others. You, too, Sean. I’ve resided in several different states, and definitely notice that polite manners are more often used in the South than in other places. “Yes, sir”, “No, sir” and “Yes, ma’am” or “No, ma’am” are more good examples of ingrained Southern politeness. Elsewhere it’s “Yeah” or “Nope” when a young person is talking to an adult. What a humongous, ginormous difference, depending on where you were raised.

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  4. Sandra Smith - September 13, 2018 1:51 pm

    I am about to be a Granna to MY first grandchild….a boy we already call HD, after his great Grandpa, my Daddy, who thankfully, retired in time to get a hold of my son, at age 10, and polish off the raising I started. Talk about raising him right ! Daddy did what I would never have been able to do, so, here’s to Mama’s, Nana’s, AND Pawpaw’s, everywhere. Keep the tradition going. ❤

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  5. Edna B. - September 13, 2018 1:52 pm

    I loved your reference to the surgery being administered by Howdy Doody. And I love that little fellow at the bank. Good manners and respect are so very important. I have to agree though, that children in the South seem to be taught more good manners than elsewhere. Sean, you have a great day, hugs, Edna B.

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  6. Vaudy Holley Jr - September 13, 2018 2:00 pm

    I agree with everything you said about how to treat women. I and 66 and if I was not kind to women and older people my Mama would come back and knock the taste out of my mouth .

    Reply
  7. Janet Rascoe - September 13, 2018 2:00 pm

    I must respond to this one because it has been heavy on my mind this week. I went to Sam’s and loaded a flat bed FULL TO THE MAX and then some of items for a Community Breakfast we do at our church every Saturday. This Saturday is my turn to cook. I have some physical issues, but I am woman, and I am strong. I don’t need help loading and unloading (thank you though). By the time I was unloading all the items in my car, I had worked up a good sweat. Not glistening, sweat. There was a young man about 18 or so sitting on a bench right beside my car looking at his phone and puffing on his vapor cigarette. I so was in hopes that he would be a gentleman and offer to help me load my 11 gallons of milk and my 2 cases of 15 dozen eggs, etc. in my car. I didn’t want his help, nor did I need it, I DID need though for him to offer his assistance just to show me that there are some manners still being taught in todays world. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. It breaks my heart that our world is going down this way.

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  8. AC - September 13, 2018 2:01 pm

    As an older lady I appreciate the door being held open. Any time a young boy hold the
    door for me I make over him and tell what a nice young man he is. For the women who want equal rights, it does not mean you have to loose manners or act like a man. I am a southern lady and appreciate men who treat me like a lady. Southern men do have more manners than most but you can find good manners in a
    lot of places.

    Reply
  9. Barbara porter - September 13, 2018 2:18 pm

    In over 41 years together I never heard my husband use a swear word, at least in front of me..he always opened doors for me without fail..he tolerated no bad manners from young ones, at least in front of me..he believed all women deserved respect..he fell to his knees at his moms funeral..he was an old time cowboy with old time morals and I miss him every day

    Reply
    • Toni Tucker Locke - September 13, 2018 8:05 pm

      Everyone misses him and guys like him ’cause there are way too few of them. Bless you.

      Reply
  10. Susan Hatfield - September 13, 2018 2:19 pm

    I love you.

    Reply
  11. Connie Havard Ryland - September 13, 2018 2:19 pm

    I work in an office for a metal fabricating shop. I’m the only female. They are the best bunch of guys ever. Mostly they call me Ms. Connie. They open doors, carry whatever I need carried, move whatever, and are unfailingly polite. Of course, we have worked together, most of us, for more than 10 years, so we are family. But it still makes me smile. Somebody raised them right. I’m still working on my soon to be son in law. Sigh…

    Reply
  12. Jack Darnell - September 13, 2018 2:35 pm

    I am on your side, but my son who is older than you, divorced twice from the same woman even, says “You are right Dad, BUT some wimmin…….!” AND I thought I raised him right! Definitely a fact, a gentleman opens the door for women. Oh yes, my son does too!

    Reply
  13. Bev deJarnette - September 13, 2018 2:51 pm

    Sean, I want to thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts with all of us. I have shared your blog with lots of friends and they thank you also! My husband of 50 years and sweetheart for 56 years used to share some of his thoughts on a blog he wrote for several years. Sometimes I read your words and hear the same tender heart and caring soul with which he shares with you! Keep writing until you have shared all the love and life lessons you are moved to share. I love reading your thoughts soon after I read my daily devotions, it very often flows in to same stream. Much love to you young man!

    Reply
  14. Karen - September 13, 2018 2:55 pm

    Your mama must be truly amazing and she must have loved you beyond measure, because she has influenced you in such a strong and magnificent way. God bless her.

    Reply
  15. Pat - September 13, 2018 3:07 pm

    I so hate to see the coarsening of our society, but it seems that we are beginning to treat it as normal behavior and we make excuses for those who are not thoughtful. We need to teach and obey the Golden Rule.

    Reply
  16. Ellen - September 13, 2018 3:14 pm

    God Bless the Nana and Mama for their teachings and God, please continue to Bless this young boy for being open to their “teachings “!

    Reply
  17. Clark Hining - September 13, 2018 3:20 pm

    People impress you Sean. That’s a good thing in my mind. But better yet is the fact that you express those impressions. A very close friend of mine who happened to be a preacher once said that “impression without expression leads to depression”. I’ve thought about that a lot over the many years since. I’m not sure I understood it at first, but I believe I do now. Your writings are wonderful expressions and I think your stories help your audience, me especially, to really see people and not simply look past them.
    I had a job for many years where I wore a name tag on my shirt. I liked it when people called me by my name. I try to do that with people and I believe they like it too. They seem to light up and smile brighter when they hear their name. I’m sure you have found this to be true also.
    Anyway, keep up the good work Sean! I think you are doing more good than you realize.

    Clark

    Reply
  18. Pamela McEachern - September 13, 2018 3:43 pm

    My family would have said “your Mama raised you right.” God Blesses all children that have a family that spends the time to show them the graces of life.

    Peace and Love from Birmingham

    Reply
  19. GaryD - September 13, 2018 3:45 pm

    That’s a good kid raised right. We need more like that.

    Reply
  20. Jack Quanstrum - September 13, 2018 4:10 pm

    Amen!

    Reply
  21. Marie Entwistle - September 13, 2018 4:14 pm

    I am a recent subscriber…and your messages are the best thing coming to my inbox!! Except for pictures of my grandbabies of course! 😊 Thank you!!

    Reply
  22. Sherri - September 13, 2018 4:36 pm

    Gosh I love you 💞

    Reply
  23. Glenda Mayfield - September 13, 2018 4:43 pm

    Your posts are always so delightful. You make my day.

    Reply
  24. Janet Chutro - September 13, 2018 4:53 pm

    I’m a pudgy middle aged women – as such, invisible to young men. Last night on the train going home just before my stop: Two 20-somethings stood up and entered the aisle in front of me. I had to stop walking or walk in to them. Same young men stopped a couple seats up to complain about their commute and fist bump another young man remaining on the train. Same boys walked through the sliding (manual, not automatic) exit doors in front of me, the second not even touching the doors, so that I had to catch and reopen them.

    Reply
  25. Carole - September 13, 2018 5:50 pm

    Sean, I LOVE this! It is exactly what I try to instill in my sixth graders every, single day! We talk about chivalry all the time, and I try to give them opportunities to practice gentlemanly behavior. I also share expectations with the girls about how they should receive such behavior. They don’t always remember, but we try!
    I will never give up trying to influence my little space each day.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Smiling in Montgomery

    Reply
  26. Janet Mary Lee - September 13, 2018 6:27 pm

    Bless your awareness! Women everywhere love you! And so do their Mama’s Dad’s and Grandparents!

    Reply
  27. perry5360 - September 13, 2018 10:02 pm

    Reply
  28. Barbara Coan - September 14, 2018 12:03 am

    Bless his heart and all like him

    Reply
  29. Another pilgrim - September 14, 2018 12:04 am

    Fifty some years later, I still remember the first time my mother sat in the car at the shopping center. Waiting for one of her sons to open the car door for her, instead of getting out and hustling us out of the vehicle.
    Amen for mothers, sister, aunts, and grandmothers.

    Reply
  30. Ann - September 14, 2018 2:06 pm

    I moved to DC from the South almost 30 years ago. You used to see men give their seats up on the metro for women when the car was filled. No more. Until recently, I got on and a young man who I might otherwise be concerned about got up and offered me his seat. I told him some girl was going to be lucky to have him one day.

    Manners unfortunately surprise us now instead of being taken for granted. Praise them when you see them! And yes, we need to raise our boys to be good men, but we also need to raise our girls to embrace their feminine side while still being steel magnolias.

    Reply
  31. Terri C Boykin - September 14, 2018 3:13 pm

    That is the way we were raised. I love the South with her sweet kind manners. I hate to see it get diluted. Love you much Sean.

    Reply
  32. Kathy Bacon - September 14, 2018 9:36 pm

    Amen!

    Reply
  33. Linda Chipman - September 15, 2018 10:08 pm

    Thank you Sean. I wish every young and not so young person would read this. My Daddy was one of the most considerate men I’ve ever known and now I still have my brother who is the same. Thank Heaven for good manners.

    Reply
  34. congersinlondon - September 18, 2018 6:21 am

    Sean, I love reading your blog every morning. I love coming to Seagrove and worshipping at Simple Church when you are there. I’m living in London at the moment, but I delight in reading a little “mouth from the south” every morning. And I particularly appreciated this post. I’ve tried to raise two boys with the same awareness of the young man you wrote about here.

    Reply
  35. Carolyn K - November 9, 2018 11:06 am

    ❤️ So much truth in this, courtesy is almost lost and forgotten in this crazy world we live in. I Just love how you bring things back in perspective sometimes.😊

    Reply
  36. Mary Ann Massey - November 9, 2018 12:49 pm

    Brought sweet tears to my eyes! I am SUPER PROUD of my son too….we had a few bumps along the way….but my heart swells with pride at every thought of him…..well….ALMOST every thought 😂😂😂😂😂

    Reply
  37. unkle Kenny - November 9, 2018 4:42 pm

    i am training my grandson in the fine art of door opening manners . no manners no after school snack ….uk

    Reply

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