dreadedcandiru2 (dreadedcandiru2) wrote,

On thank-you letters.

Every so often, it occurs to me that John and Elly witlessly sabotage any attempt at instilling civility in their teaming get by making the kids associate gracious behaviour with being punished. Just as how Elly's endless wailing about how doing housework is the worst thing ever has made slobs of her kids and just as how her endless lectures about proper eating habits have given birth to Pattersnarfing, it occurs to me that the inevitable result of her and John making a thankless chore of being polite and appreciative is why Mike, Liz and April don't know how to behave like civilized people.

As by way of example, let's take a look at that harmless and pleasant little common-place called the thank-you letter. Even in these days of cheap long-distance and instant messaging so that we can be thanked for our efforts at near-relativistic velocities, it's a sort of nice little touch to have someone take the time and effort to sit down and write a little note to thank us. The problem at the Pattermanse is, as always, the fact that the kids have the worst possible teachers. If we don't have John making a lot of noise about how To Do Things Right only to reveal that he palms it off on Elly, we have to contend with Elly wanting to make them grateful about things that they aren't especially grateful for. Just as putting things in closets is seen as an unproductive waste of time owing to Elly's fussy perfectionism and default refusal to think of her children as anything other than ungrateful burdens, taking the time to brighten someone's day is seen as a pointless effort owing to John and Elly's hypocrisy and unearned superiority. Good thing for the two of them that at some point, Mike and Liz become desperate for their approval; this means that they can sit back and whine that it took long enough for them to thank Mommy and Daddy for letting them eat their food.
Tags: child rearing disasters

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