Carter and I were riding in the car this morning.
“They had a meeting with all of fifth grade this week as a reminder about how to act at lunch and in class and with friends,” he says, “this one kid got in trouble a few times for doing things, like real bad things he shouldn’t have.”
An unusually warm February sun shone in the window. I thought about what he said.
Do you know what a gentleman is? I asked.
Not really, he said. I took a breath.
Say please and thank you, loud enough to be heard.
Pull her chair out. Push her chair in.
Ask to hold her hand.
When the time is right, ask to kiss her.
Be a friend. Stand up for the bullied and stand up to the bullies.
Be a leader. Make those around you better.
Talk. Listen. Respect. Shake hands. Say goodbye. Look people in the eyes.
Stand at the table when people arrive or leave.
Make your word your bond. Tell the truth. Be honest. Mean it.
Be a good man. Be a good friend. Be a good husband. Be a good father.
Be confident. Give confidence.
Celebrate wins. Learn from losses. Apologize for wrongs. Don’t gloat over rights.
Be humble. Be sympathetic and empathetic.
Does it make sense? I asked. He nodded. I think, he said.
Me, your father, and your great grandfather were raised to be gentlemen, to be good men. I expect you and your brother to be the same, I said.
I want both of you to be known as good men.
We drove on into the afternoon.