My childhood heroine, Mary Tyler Moore!

Yesterday I helped a bookish-looking third-grader sign up for summer reading at the public library. Chatting her up as I gathered all her information, I described all the things the library had going on this summer that might be of interest to her—the American Girl Mother/Daughter Spa Day, Bring a Friend Day and other assorted fun exclusively for girls.

I could feel her studying me as she waited. When we finished, she stood there, mouth agape in adulation until her mother gently coaxed her away.  Is this not the highest form of flattery? To think that a young person is looking at you with admiration is a clear reminder that we never know when or how we may be influencing people around us, especially the youngest onlookers.

My mind whooshes back through all the grown-up ladies I admired as a girl, from Mary Richards (aka Mary Tyler Moore) who taught me that I might choose something other than marriage and a family, to May Sanders, a neighbor who convinced me that I would never be able to wear lipstick if I continued to suck my thumb.

So when I hear a Dad complaining about how mean and surly his teenage daughters are and how vicious their social circles have become, I have to ask: where have they seen this kind of behavior? Have they learned this from us? Let’s hope that good manners and a kind disposition have not become a vintage idea. If so, we can do the same thing we’ve done with vintage fashions—bring the best of them back.