Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Character

Today Monsieur stood at the bottom of the stairs.
“Boys!” he said, not shouting – but his baritone tends to carry through the rafters.
Three boys immediately appeared at the top of the stairs.
“Come down, please,” he commanded.
They trooped down the stairs without a word.
“I want to give you some instructions. As you know, Peppermint’s mother and brother will be here on Saturday and two of you will be doubling rooms, camping in [Middlest Boy’s] room and they shall sleep in [Littlest Boy’s] room.”
“Can I sleep with Peppermint’s mom?” asked Middlest Boy.
“Certainly not. She will sleep with Peppermint’s brother, and what I want to talk to you about is hygiene and housecleaning. The upstairs bathroom is not fit for women to see, much less to use. I would not subject a farm animal to such conditions. You,” he said, pointing to Bigglest Boy, “will be in charge of scrubbing the bathroom from top to bottom. The other two boys will assist. You,” he said, pointing to Middlest Boy, “will be in charge of cleaning out [Littlest Boy’s] room. The other two boys will assist. You,” he said, pointing to Littlest Boy, “will watch, learn, and help. Is this understood?”
“Yes, Daddy,” they all nodded.
“Another issue that is very important is comportment and hygiene. When guests are here, particularly female guests, there will be no appearing out of your room in a state of undress. Do you know what I mean by that?”
“We can’t go downstairs naked?” Middlest Boy asked.
“You must wear shirt and pants – or shorts – when you can be seen.”
“What about in the bath?” Bigglest Boy asked. “Do we have to have clothes on when we’re still wet?”
“You have bathrobes, each of you, and you will use them.”
They looked disappointed, but nodded.
“Does Peppermint have to wear day clothes all the time, too?” Middlest Boy asked.
“This is Peppermint’s family, and Peppermint will do as she thinks best.”
“I’ll wear day clothes when I’m out of my room, [Middlest Boy], I promise.” I assured him.
“There is the other matter, regarding the bathroom.” Monsieur pointed at the Two Bigglest Boys. “You two older boys have been leaving the toilet in a state that I can only describe as barbaric. From this moment forward, I will check the toilet seat and its surrounding area, and if I find anything disgusting or unclean about it in any way, I will find both of you and both of you will immediately clean the toilet, the floor, the walls and the bain. Thoroughly,” he added. “All television privileges shall be suspended until conditions are met.”
“But I never miss,” said Bigglest Boy.
“I disagree with you,” said Monsieur. “In any event, it will be up to both of you to help each other, and make absolutely certain that the bathroom is always in a condition suitable for a lady. I have been lenient so far with you, but this is important. We will be hosting guests, and you three boys will be gentlemen, in every way, and I will be proud of you. Is everything understood perfectly?”
“Yes!” they all said almost together.
“We begin now,” Monsieur said, producing cleansers, rags, a mop and paper towels. “All boys: Upstairs, first the bathroom, then the bedroom. I shall supervise, and render aid as necessary. But you boys will do the work.”
The boys turned to go upstairs, thundering up like stampeding wildebeests.
I remember something that Monsieur had said to me when I started here:

“A gentleman is not born, he is raised. It is entirely too much effort to try to make a gentleman out of a man. It had to be done when he is a boy. His character must be formed.

“Character isn’t an inherited trait, and the boys will not simply absorb a good character from observing us. They will build it daily by the way they behave, by how they will think, and everything that they will think, every thing that they will do, will build their character. We must fill their minds with joy, love, and wisdom, and let their minds roam free. If we let anger, fear, and hate take possession of their minds, those qualities will become their cages.”

“Wish me luck,” Monsieur said to me.
Bonne chance,” I said, with a giggle. “You know, Mom had a boy, and knows what to expect,” I said to him, smiling. “I’m sure she’s seen plenty of pee.”
Bien, she has seen enough of that for one life, in any case. I am determined that I will raise three gentlemen, and they have no other options in this house.”
“Yes, Monsieur,” I said, and kissed him.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

How I wish my husband could read this. Because he is a gentleman but only one of his 3 sons is one too. The problem is that my husband can't ask or tell very much ... he says he respects freedom and accepts people as they are but ... his younger one - who will turn 22 soon - is such a "not nice one" :-( For weeks I try not get angry with him but this week he made me a sign that meant "f*** off" when his father was in an other room and we were sublty arguing as we do all the time. God bless "monsieur" and these kids are lucky ... as you are ;-) (maryse)

super des said...

Monsieur sounds like a great dad and a great guy.

How old are the boys, anyway?

Romancing Simplicity said...

Three gentlemen, eh? Monsieur's got his work cut out for him. But it sounds like a worthy endeavor.

Boyfriend and I have been talking ALOT about kids more recently. We've both always wanted a big family - 4 or 5 kids - and so we've been discussing whether to wait or to start now, etc. And just discussing certain aspects of parenthood that we wouldn't be prepared for.

Like raising little boys to be gentlemen.

Ergo, we both appreciated reading this entry. It's nice to know that we aren't alone in thinking about these things. It gives us hope; maybe we'll start sooner than later knowing that our concerns are entirely to be expected...and had for many years to come.

introspectre said...

He is so wonderful he makes me cry.
A good daddy.
You are a lucky girl.
Very lucky, indeed.