I’ve spent the past few weeks in a community in which just about everybody has a pet dog. I watched how much love and training the owners invested in these pets. According to Webster, a pet is something or someone cherished or regarded as a favorite.

I thought about this definition when I was around some kids whose impolite behavior suggested that no one had been invested in them enough to raise them to be polite.

When I observed some of the adults around these kids, I saw that the adults were not polite. The adults did not say “please,” “excuse me,” “thanks” or “sorry” to kids or to others in the presence of kids. So … how were kids supposed to learn how to be polite? The lack of good role models for the kids made me think of the song “Baby” by Bobby McFerrin. Some of the lyrics are as follows:

Baby listenin’ what we say…

Have you thought of what you’re makin’ baby up to be…

Cause baby lookin’ what we do

Baby watchin’ want to do it too.”

As the song suggests, babies (children) learn from the examples around them. It’s unfortunate that so many kids are handicapped by a lack of social niceties.

Maybe the acronym PETS – Please, Excuse me, Thanks, and Sorry – would help. These words could teach and remind kids and adults simple ways to be polite.

In time, PETS could be cherished by everyone.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...