All Out Of Nice?
Patch Columnist Brenda Kelley Kim talks about snapshots, snacking and sitting still.
“It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.” - John Cassis
You know, at first I thought this quote was a little too trite. Then I left the house and became convinced that in much of my environment, the places I go, the people I run across, nice is in short supply. All out of nice? Yes, it’s entirely possible that the supply is dwindling to a dangerously low level. A friend joked about it once, but I think it’s happening.
I thought maybe it was just here, around town. But it’s not. I know people all over the country, and they tell me the same thing. This isn’t a local issue; I’m convinced it’s national, if not global. What can we do? I wish I knew, it’s a hugely complex problem. And to be honest, I’ve had a fair amount of “all out of nice” moments myself. Ask anyone who knows me. A few of them are legendary, and I don’t say that with any pride, believe me.
I do however have a few suggestions for this time of year. There are so many recitals and plays and other events. Bar Mitzvahs, First Communions, graduations etc. Happy times that we share with our family and friends. Where better to start? So, since we like to do things in fives here at Patch, here are five things not to do at these events.
1) Shut it. Pretty basic really. If you are anywhere there is a stage, or a podium or, I don’t know, someone speaking to a group that is gathered there, that is your cue to stop talking. That is when you “zip it” as one of my favorite teachers says. Yes, kids learn this in school, why is it the adults have a problem managing it? This goes for your phone too. Unlike me, every cell phone made has a silent button on it. Use it. If you simply MUST be reachable at an event, use the vibrate setting and leave to answer it.
2) Put down the iPad. This is a new phenomenon. Yes, they are way cool. Yes, they take pictures and video. They are also bigger than your head. When you sit there watching your child perform or graduate or get an award holding this black rectangle up above your head with both arms, no one behind you can see their kid. They can see your iPad, they can see your big ham hands, but chances are they didn't come to see that. Bring a camera, remember those? They take pictures too.
3) Wait your turn. Whether you are getting up to leave after the event, or waiting to get into the venue so you can trample people….um, I mean, select your seat, just chill out. What’s the rush? Not for nothing, if there’s a line? Get in it. At the back! That’s another clue that you are not the only person that wants to see this momentous occasion. I have yet to see a VIP entrance at a school play, so that means you might have to wait. There are worse things in life. Don’t worry, be happy. Your kid is going to shine!
4) Spit out the gum. Or the granola bar, the Cheez its, the candy or the soda. Unless it’s a movie, or some other event where they sell these things, most people can go an hour or so without food. Absent a serious medical issue, no one will die if they don’t snack on something during the average First Communion Mass. There’s likely a really good party afterwards, it’s not like you have to wander the desert for forty days as part of the ritual. No one wants to sit in synagogue with Goldfish crackers crunching under their feet or hear wrappers rustling during an Aliyah, but I’ve seen both happen.
5) Stay put. So your child is done with their part, but others are not. OK, well, do you have a meeting with the President? Maybe you have another child, in some other event across town, fine then you get a pass. Otherwise? Plan to be there for however long it takes. Everyone involved in these events works really hard to make them special. Teachers, priests, rabbis, students, volunteers. Don’t turn your back on them, stepping on everyone as you climb out of the middle of your row.
I’m sure I sound like Old Lady Crankypants and hey, that’s fine, I’ll own that. But I won’t yap incessantly at Mass, shove in front of you, block your view at your kid's play, drop crackers on your seat and step on your toes. It’s the least I can do, and I promise to try to do more, if I can. I’ve never been happy doing just the minimum.