“To be a gentleman does not depend upon the tailor or the toilet. Good clothes are not good habits. A gentleman is just a gentle – man, — no more, no less; a diamond polished, that was first a diamond in the rough” — William Croswell Doane
When I became a husband, showing affection and treating my wife with kid gloves were things that came naturally. I never realized that my father had planted those ideas in my head years ago. At least I didn’t until my son has started paying attention to the way I treat, not only my wife, but any person of the opposite persuasion.
My son is 9 years old. I first noticed that he was paying attention last year when my wife tore her Achilles. I came home from work and he was tirelessly putting pillows under her ankle and waiting on her every need. I asked him if he was in trouble. Nope. I asked him if he was pushing for an addition to his allowance. Nope. Then why? “Because that’s what you do”, he said. Now I notice when we are out in public that my son regularly opens doors for women. And he will readily note when his kindness is not returned with a thank you.
It makes me wonder when I see some of the intolerable behavior men display towards women. And, sadly, I wonder why women put up with it. I’m not just talking about giving flowers on Valentine’s Day. Or picking up the towels after you take a shower. But I mean things like having a candlelight dinner ready before she comes home from work, kids or not. Sneaking little displays of affection like stealing a kiss in the kitchen or a little pat on the backside when you think no one is watching. But that’s the thing. They are. I was. And I loved it. And I’m assuming my son does, too. I see him around other people, especially girls, and he is kind and gentle and almost bashful. And I’m proud of that! He doesn’t need to be a chest thumping macho stud. Just be yourself little man.
Now let’s talk about flowers. I’m not a dozen roses kinda guy. But I will explain one example of how I like to give flowers. My wife was in grad school a few years ago. She had some math problems to do about cows for some kind of research. It was time for her exams so I thought some flowers might make her day. So I went to the florist which was in a strip mall. Next door was a toy store and in the window was the most adorable little stuffed cow. Now I had my wow factor. I went to the florist and told her my idea to see if she could help. No problem. So I went to a book store and found a math word problem about a cow. I went to a gift store and found a greeting card with a cow on it. I made a copy of the cow word problem and pasted it in the cow greeting card. I bought the little toy cow and took it and the card to the florist. She put the cow in a country style basket with daisies and different wildflowers. She had found a little yellow ribbon and put around its neck with a little bell. My wife melted. That basket of flowers with the little cow, which we still have today, meant more to her than any dozen roses for Valentine’s. The long story is, go the extra mile to make it personal.
I have no doubt that my son is watching my actions at home. As I get older, I think about the same thing when my father was alive and how he was with my mom. And I’m thankful that I grew up in that environment. And I’m thankful that my son is watching me. And now that I know he is, my wife is reaping the rewards! Because I’m sure that when my son becomes old enough to start dating, he will know how to treat his girl. Right now the most important thing in his life is his FIFA 14 Xbox game. I tell him to treat Mommy like he treats that video game. I told him you’re always gentle so it doesn’t get broken, you always keep it safe and secure, and you would do anything not to lose it. Yeah, he’s got it.
I wonder about the generations of young men who weren’t so lucky as to learn from their fathers. Because who else are they going to learn from? And I see some of the fathers today with their sons and the behavior or lack thereof. And I say a quiet “thanks, Dad.”