An ode to Tannie Emsie

emsieThere has been much dinner table conversation in our house about manners lately (oh, who am I kidding, we are ALWAYS on about manners).  I got sick of whining about elbows off the table/don’t wipe your hands on your clothes/eat with your mouth closed/don’t talk with your mouth full of food/sit up straight, so we made it into a game.

The game is called: what would a Princess/Prince do.  It wasn’t on purpose, but it’s been fun.  Although it does get a little out of hand with helpful suggestions like “Princesses don’t fart at the table” and “Princesses never burp out loud, especially not in front of strangers” and “Princesses don’t scratch in their noses AND eat their snot”.

All this talk of manners reminded me of Emsie Schoeman, that old stalwart of Good Afrikaans Manners.  Who remembers her?  My Mother used to terrorise us with Tannie Emsie.  We had her book, it was required reading in our house and heaven help you if you stepped out of line and broke the Rules of Life According to Tannie Emsie.

Tannie Emsie is the Afrikaans equivalent of Emily Post (thank you Vanessa!) and if you don’t know who Emily Post is, well, you’re on your own.

At this point in my life I’m not complaining about Tannie Emsie as hopefully some of it stuck, but I came across this gem from Sarie magazine that was published in 2009.  I apologise, it is in Afrikaans, I’m not even going to attempt to translate it (that’s what Google Translate is for), but it is truly special and truly Afrikaans. I see she is even on twitter!

In a nutshell, a lady doesn’t put lipstick on in public, always ALWAYS take something for your hostess if you are going to her house and always remember to thank her afterwards (something I often forget to do, especially with really good friends).  And here I thought it was part of my OCD, not ever wanting to arrive empty-handed at someone’s house.

Right at the bottom of the Sarie link there’s a question about “Oom” (Uncle) and “Tannie” (Aunty) and the varying opinions on whether you make your kids say “Oom” and “Tannie”.  I know many people hate it when other people’s children call them this and prefer to be called by their first names, but man, it goes against my grain to make my kids call an adult by their first name.  I’m getting over it, but it’s really awkward and I find myself avoiding the use of that adult’s name when there’s an interaction between them and one of our kids.  It’s almost a “Er, sê dankie mumblemumble vir die roomys” and I would usher the child away quickly lest I embarrass someone and the dreaded Oom/Tannie slips out.

On the topic of Tannie/Oom, I found this little gem too.  I may or may not have done some ill-mannered snorting at the You-Tube clip.

What do make your kids call other adults that aren’t related to you or really good friends of yours?

What were the things that your parents were really hectic about when it came to manners? 

Ps: I also seem to spending an inordinate amount of time discussing things that don’t belong in pants.  For example:

“Daniel, take the Bushbaby out of your pants”

“But Mom! I like the bush down there”

and another one of my favourites:

“Daniel, take the Angry Birds (soft toy) out of your pants!”

“But Mom!  I like having a bird down there!”

I couldn’t make this stuff up, not even if I tried.

PPS: Tannie Emsie is apparently very much alive and well and living in Wilderness and entertaining Nataniël on a regular basis.