DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a front-desk clerk at a small hotel which, luckily, in these difficult economic times, has a full roster of frequent guests.
If I had a nickel for every time one of them made a comment on the order of, "So, are you included in the price of the room?" I would have a boatload of nickels. I can handle the ones who are joking, but it's the ones who brag about their lovely wife and beautiful children and then start leering at me who make me want to tell them where to go, which a Gentle Reader should not do. What do you suggest?
GENTLE READER: You may be surprised to hear (from Miss Manners, at any rate) that this is a rare situation in which you can tell such people where to go. The polite way would be to say stiffly, "You might want to look elsewhere, sir. This is a respectable hotel, not the kind of accommodation you are seeking."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am at a loss. I have tried to teach my son to respect and give courtesy to his teachers. Unfortunately, he has repeatedly refused to do the work assigned to him.
He has the ability to make his teachers feel that they are just asking way too much of him, and that he's the sweetest kid in the world and would never not do the work on purpose. That is, until they insist that he do the work or hand it in.
How do you respectfully get the point across that schoolwork is important? I promise that he is capable of doing the work. I was his sole teacher before he went to school and I still teach him when and where I can.
When his teachers finally get around to telling me that he's been misbehaving, he's about 3 to 4 weeks behind in school. They always report to me that the work he does turn in is A or B work, and when they allow for the work to be made up I can get him caught up over a one-week period.
GENTLE READER: Apparently, the people who need to learn that schoolwork is important are your son's teachers. Miss Manners is appalled that they are teaching him, instead, that wheedling can replace working. As long as this technique is successful, he has no incentive to learn anything else.
This is such an enormous disservice to your son that you are going to have to battle it through the school system. If the teachers refuse to listen to you, you should take it to their superiors, continuing until someone understands.
What is particularly sad here is that the situation nowadays is so often the reverse -- teachers who are trying to do their jobs, and parents who only want to make their children's immediate lives easier with no thought for the future. That is what teachers mean when they complain that they are not shown respect -- the very thing you are insisting your son display. Only instead of a parent undercutting the teacher's authority, this is a case of teachers undercutting the parent at the expense of the child.