There are few things worse than adults who behave like children. Don’t get me wrong. I like children. My wife and I had three of them. I think children are as good as biscuits and gravy. Childlike behavior is awesome.
Childish behavior is not awesome. Especially in adults. I know this because as a young man I was guilty of occasional fits of childish behavior.
There is a house on Linda Drive outside of Cartersville, GA. The Euharlee community to be exact. And in that house there is a hole in the sheet rock in one of the bedrooms. Or, perhaps it has been repaired by now. This happened in 1983.
A 27 year old adult male let the child in him get the best of him. In a fit over something ridiculously childish, he threw a blow dryer across the room and impaled it against the wall. Nothing was solved. Nothing redeeming was accomplished.
Why is this such a hard lesson to learn?
So, for the sake of civil behavior and for the sake of those who have forgotten what it means to be all grown up, I offer you a set of rules for adults. I am not the first to propose this approach. These rules could actually be borrowed from the kindergarten classroom at the Methodist Church.
BE A GOOD LISTENER. If someone else is talking, pay attention. You can mumble to yourself and check your phone later. Disinterested fidgeting is rude.
NO SNEERING AT OTHERS. If you let what you think on the inside show on the outside, you end up looking like you just had Castor Oil forced down your gullet. When things don’t go your way, at least wear a poker face and not a prune face. Prune faces are allowed only when the dog gases up the air you are breathing.
BE RESPECTFUL OF OTHERS. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but always show respect. The people around you may not be your BFFs, but they deserve to be treated decently. The Golden Rule should need no explanation.
TAKE NAPS. When you get tired you get cranky. Naps can change your outlook on life.
BE KIND. It doesn’t cost a dime to notice the name tag and speak to the cashier or waiter by name. If the register breaks down, it’s not her fault. Your kindness may be the only thing that helps someone hold it together that day. Childish and rude behavior in the checkout line is, well, childish.
HOLD YOUR TONGUE. It’s not always necessary or advisable to say out loud anything and everything that comes into your head. It’s okay to speak your mind, but “you’re about the @$!&># dumbest %$@? I’ve ever had to deal with” is not adult communication. Think about how you would want someone to speak to you.
NEVER PITCH A FIT. Ballistic yelling, and throwing, and stomping and walking off when things go wrong is not allowed. A 5 year old in front of the gum machine at the Dollar Store used this tactic just yesterday. He needed to be taken out back. I have seen a few 30, and 40, and 50 year olds that need the same lesson.
BE GLAD FOR OTHERS. Life is not just about you. You are not the center of the universe. When others do well or deserve some credit or honor, be the first to congratulate them. Envy and jealousy are a waste of time.
SHARE. If you don’t need it, give it away. If you’re not playing with it, let someone else have a turn. Let people in line at Walmart and on the road. If there is one donut left, let the other guy have it. There’s a reason we say, “Quit hogging”. Hogs don’t share well.
I don’t know if these cover all the bases or not. But it should be a pretty good start. I think it could be useful in politics, in church, in school, and at work. The codes of conduct that we hope to instill in our children at a young age are the very things that will make life more tolerable for the adult world.
But we forget. Somewhere along the way some of us decide that the rules of decent human behavior don’t apply once we get grown.
Oh. I thought of one more. I saw this in the local Mexican restaurant. I’ve actually seen it in several public places. In fact, one time I saw it and almost had to leave the store.
DRESS YOUR AGE. Adults shouldn’t have to be reminded to dress like adults, but the neglect of this common sense rule is epidemic. You know exactly what I’m talking about.
Little girls are cute in tights. This may sound prudish of me, but 99 out of 100 women who wear tights, shouldn’t. If I can see the dimple in your cheeks (not the ones on your face) then the pants are too tight. Someone forgot to ask her husband, “Do these pants make my butt look too big?” Or if she did ask him, she shot him and went to the store anyway.
Guys, too. What grown man in his right mind goes to the store in his PJs, or his house pants with the big hole in the rear? Comfy house shoes, yes. But put on some real pants. And if your toenails are yellow and green and curling at the end, please, please don’t wear the flip flops.
I’ve turned into a grumpy old man, no doubt. But at least I’m an adult grumpy old man. Now, let me put on some good pants so I can go to the store and be nice to the cashier, even though he can’t count the change and he stares at his phone and grunts the entire time he’s waiting on me.