Thing 3

What Is It About Boys And Trains and Trucks?

Who is this teenager?

I wrote an entire entry this morning defending my parenting choice to teach my children to say, “Yes, ma’am” and “Yes, sir.” And then it occurred to me…why do I care? It’s a very difficult thing to explain to people who truly hate it, and the people on the fence? Don’t judge me about it, they just might not teach their own kids the same thing. So why am I wasting an entire blog entry on defending myself to people who just hate it and won’t ever understand why I do it?

Instead…let’s look at cute pictures of my kids. And trains.

At the train museum

I took my kids to look at some old trains this weekend. Wes is obsessed with trucks and trains and anything BIG and LOUD. I decided to take my fisheye lens out, but I put it on a camera that I had previously set the iso to 1600 for a low-light situation and forgot. So, all of my fisheye photos from our adventure turned out grainy. This was a bit depressing as I took some cute ones with the kids and the trains, so I opted to do a few Photoshop tricks to try to make the grain look intentional.

(Sidenote: This is why I could never be a professional portrait photographer. I do this kind of screwup ALL THE TIME.)

I'm such an Amateur

Did it work? Does it look like the noise (or grain) in that photo was totally planned? Or is it obvious I was covering up a mistake? Either way…the grain just added some interesting texture to the photos of the trains. So, no FAIL there!

Remembering why I love my fisheye lens: At the train museum
Remembering why I love my fisheye lens: At the train museum
Remembering why I love my fisheye lens: At the train museum

The kids were bored because they wanted to get in the trains, but I promised them we would ride the train on September 11th. This museum takes the trains out several times a year so we made sure to get tickets to the next ride. I can’t wait. I’m hoping Wes will really enjoy it since he’s so into things like that right now. Now, he has his favorites. He’d probably poop his diaper over excitement if I could figure out a way to get him on a Blue Recycling Truck! (his favorite) or a Big Yellow School Bus! (his second favorite) – but for now? The train will have to do.


18 thoughts on “What Is It About Boys And Trains and Trucks?”

  1. 1. Yes, the grain looks intentional! And awesome!

    2. YES, I’ve been thinking recently about how sometimes I have a totally neutral feeling on a subject until someone defends one side. THAT brings up an opposing viewpoint I didn’t even think of myself as having—I suppose because I feel like if someone is doing something differently than I am, they must have decided the way I’m doing it is WRONG (if they thought it was RIGHT they’d be doing it too), so now I feel like I have to come up with Reasons! and Justifications! why my way is also right.

  2. So…I looked at the pictures first before going back and reading the blog, and I TOTALLY thought the pictures were professional-looking! I never would have noticed anything if you hadn’t said anything. They have a nice “rustic” look that works perfectly with the trains in the background.

    Ha…I never knew people could hate “Yes Ma’am and “Yes Sir.”

  3. Totally LOVE your pictures!!!

    I’m like Carrie, I never knew people could hate “Ma’am” and “Sir”. I just thought it was a regional thing. I was born in Michigan, raised down here by mid-western parents. We weren’t raised to say ma’am and sir, but we got in trouble for yup or nope. It was always Yes and No. If you tagged on a ma’am or sir, that was ok too. But not a requirement.

    I’m raising Pi to say Ma’am and Sir. It’s just seems like a natural thing to do….

    Did I mention I LOVE your pictures???

  4. First… the pictures are amazing. The grainy look completely works for those pictures. As Carrie said, they have quite the rustic look.

    Second, I am not sure how someone could hate Yes, Sir and Yes Ma’am. I was raised to say it, if I had kids (or when I have kids), they will say it too. Common courtesy should never be something that people complain about, in my opinion.

  5. My oldest nephews looooves trucks and trains and TRACTORS! I always accredited to my parents’ farm but frequently hear of other boys’ affection for machinery, too. It will be interesting to see if the younger three boys are as obsessed with the Ts as Dylan but if they are it works out well for our family. Not only are my parents farmers, they also own a trucking company. Now, if only we were involved in the railroad industry. Funny enough, railroad tracks run behind my sister’s house. She told Dylan trains use them to get to my house in Philadelphia. Too cute!

  6. I remember being shocked when my roommate in college told me that where she grew up (Connecticut) kids weren’t expected to say “yes sir” and “yes ma’am.” I asked her how the kids conveyed respect when answering questions, and she told me it was all in the inflection of the response. Blew my mind.

    To this day, I use “yes sir” or “ma’am” when I want to be super respectful. It’s ingrained in my manners for life.

    Also, cute kids! NikkiZ looks so much older these days. I’ve been reading your blog since just before she was born, and it seems crazy that she’s grown up so fast! Or, it just seems fast to me. My one-year-old should still be a newborn. I’m not sure how that happened either.

  7. Beautiful pictures! I wouldn’t have noticed the grain if you hadn’t said anything.

  8. I’m requesting that entry! I started watching a friend’s child for the summer and this lil girl says, “yeah?” and “what”. So basically all day, everyday I have to remind her to say YES! Not even gonna try for a ma’am. And then I realized how many people let their kids say whatever as a response to them. And I even heard it as a response on a Kid’s morning TV show. We don’t watch that one anymore. Anyways I was thinking, maybe I’m being so crazy about this. But for me having the kids saying “Yes/No Sir, Ma’am” is right up there with knowing how to speak in an interview. It’s the foundation for all other speaking engagements life hands you. So I would love to know why you do it as well! P.S I think your photos look fine. I barely noticed a grain. I did notice that in the 1st picture, NikkiZ looks so grown up! Eek! Better watch out!

  9. I went to college in Texas, and basically everyone I met who grew up in Texas said “ma’am” and “sir.” I didn’t think it was optional! No need to defend yourself- I think it’s a regional thing.

    I think the “grainy” pictures look really great. I wouldn’t have thought they had mistakes.

    My son recently developed a love for trucks too.

  10. Love the photos. Like everyone else, I think the grain enhances them given the subject matter. And its super subtle, so I wouldn’t even have thought about it if you hadn’t said something.

    I’m surprised anyone could hate the Maam/Sir, but I also ask that you (collectively, not you specifically) don’t judge my decision not to spend time and energy on that with my child. I believe respect and courtesy are about your attitude, tone, etc. and it doesn’t matter what words you’re using if you don’t have a respectful attitude. She may find herself using Maam or Sir, because I often do even though it wasn’t emphasized in my family. But, she will absolutely be respectful in her tone and her word choices if she plans to see any of the world beyond her room.

  11. On ma’am and sir (don’t you love that you’re all “I don’t want to talk about it” and your comments are full of us talking about it?), I have a funny aside. My husband grew up in the South and as a result ma’am and sir were hammered into him. He can’t help but say it. It’s complete instinct. Except that now he lives with me, in New England. Where nobody says ma’am and sir, except when speaking to an older stranger. So he keeps merrily calling everyone ma’am and sir, and they look at him like he’s insane. But he can’t stop. He’s helpless against the need to use ma’am and sir. ‘Tis awesome.

    And I agree with Cara. I don’t plan to teach ma’am and sir (though I’m sure my husband will try), because it’s not part of our culture up here. It would seem odd. But I will be heavily emphasizing politeness and proper tone and attitude. Intent is the same, but method is different.

  12. My little guy is OBSESSED with garbage trucks and trains. I’m sort of regretting having ever introduced him to YouTube videos about them; now he’s even more obsessed. I just found out that Los Angeles (where we live) has annual open houses about garbage trucks and recycling. The kids get to see the trucks, how they work, etc. You should tell your city to do this! It’s gotten super popular here:

  13. I hate ma’am because it makes me feel old, but I don’t hate that someone’s parents taught them to say it and otherwise be respectful!

    I love the first train only pic. And the one of Nikki – as you said on twitter, who is that gorgeous GROWN UP kid?

  14. Kathleen, you hit the nail on the head with the “makes me feel old” comment. I think in regions of the country where people do not usually address people as “Ma’am” and “Sir,” saying “Ma’am” implies that the woman is older (and deserves respect).

    Now there’s nothing wrong with respect, but many people take offense at their age being pointed out, even if you’re not specific. This doesn’t hold for everyone, but some people just don’t like feeling old, even when it’s in a respectful salutation.

    Fundamentally, there’s nothing wrong with being old, either. Nevertheless some people don’t like having it “rubbed in their faces.”

    Other people may feel that it just sounds/feels too formal (and thus makes them uncomfortable for a different reason).

    “Hate” is a strong word, and probably used too often when people aren’t really hating.

    But good manners are all about making someone feel comfortable. We may have no way of knowing whether someone’s going to bristle at being called “Ma’am” or “Sir,” but can pick up cues as we go along.

    Kim, your kids may not be mature enough to discern whether or not someone is uncomfortable being called “Ma’am,” but I think people would overlook it in a child. By the time they get old enough to understand the subtlety, you can explain regional differences, and how some people wear their age with pride, while others prefer not to tell. 😉

    I wouldn’t have noticed the graininess if you had not pointed it out — and I’m often pretty picky about pictures.

  15. I’m from New England. My Daughter went to grad school at the University of Georgia. When we’re in the right atmosphere, she’ll use sir/ma’am. I love it!!!! Rather than being called “hey” or “hey you.” Thank you for giving your children this gift. By the way until she was twelve, she answed the house phone “Smith residence, Mary speaking.” Let’s hear it for manners or respect or whatever you want to call it!!!!!

  16. What? People get offended my sir/ma’am? What is this world coming to? I know my Dad always got compliments as to how polite we were and I always thought it was weird that everyone did not show respect in that way. I still say sir/ma’am when addressing people I don’t know or to show respect.

    The pictures look awesome….intentional or not!

    I have a 3 year old that is also OBSESSED with garbage trucks and trains as well.

  17. oh HECK NO! that is what’s wrong with kids today. no respect. i’m teaching my kids to say ma’am and sir to everyone they speak to. my family isn’t used to it, but my in-law’s certainly appreciate it.

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