rlbourges

The short answer

In Local projects, Music, notes on November 8, 2013 at 6:13 am

“Because it works better than banging your head or somebody else’s on the floor.”

The answer above connects to the following question from a nine-year old girl: “Why do we say please and thank you?”

A bit of context may be useful: the eight-year old boy had just gone through a demonstration of passive resistance to authority which consisted of throwing down his school bag and lying on the floor. The nine-year old girl and I had to step over the boy to get the coaching session started. After which the full force of authoritative voice (mine) demanded the boy rise, sit and apologize. (Had the boy refused? He’d have lain on the floor for as long as he could put up with being ignored. I have full confidence in  his trying something better next time.)

There are many, many layers of unstated irony in the scene above. Not least of which, the fact the boy’s family and the girl’s family are in full feud mode these days, with lawyers jumping into the fray, and vast existential questions getting worked out in terms of euros and centimes, plus incidental questions. For instance, if the injured party refuses a spoken apology, and the person apologizing doesn’t know how to write, who holds the pen for the written apology? A matter for further debate, I gather from a phone message I found when I got home last night. (During a vast existential discussion on this issue the other day, I refused to consider  sincerity of the apology  as relevant. To my mind, it comes back to the short answer given above to the question about please and thank you .)

Question: will the fact the boy accepted to sit and say “pardon, Madame”; then further accepted to remove his feet from the table; then went so far as to draw the cat, the duck and the pig in a rowboat, escaping the demands of the little red hen? Will this effect some fundamental change in his life? Will the world be a better, finer place because I explained the difference between a sentence that works and a hodge-podge of words that don’t?

Please. I made it through the session without banging my head or anybody else’s against the floor. Then, I made it through two more coaching sessions, the details of which I don’t wish to share right this minute.

Und now, we move on to this, the eighth day in the sweet month of November of the year two thousand and thirteen in the Common Era.

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