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How the kids became so well-mannered

Marketplace Staff Nov 23, 2007
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How the kids became so well-mannered

Marketplace Staff Nov 23, 2007
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Lisa Napoli: For the kid who literally has everything, here’s something he really needs. Lenora Chu explains.


Lenora Chu: When Riley’s mom dropped him off at the Hotel Bel-Air last Saturday, he was fidgeting with his tie. Four hours later, he moved smoothly from his cocktail fork to his champagne flute.

Riley: I would like to toast to Ms. Diehl, for teaching us about politeness and different cultures, and making this manners class so fun for us.

In this classroom, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything. Diane Diehl and Lisa Gache run the etiquette school, Beverly Hills Manners. They teach kids as young as 5 everything from how to write a thank you note to the difference between a fish knife and butter knife. And according to Gache, the holiday season is their busiest time of year.

Lisa Gache: Parents, you know, almost like to put their children on display, and they like to sort of, when they go to a party, show their friends and family how well-mannered their children are.

First topic in class: Receiving a gift. Gache tells the kids, it’s OK to tell a little white lie when they get a present they hate.

Gache: The ultimate goal, we want to tell them, is to make Grandma feel, you know, like she did the best thing, you know, she did the best job, she got you exactly what she wanted, by saying “Thank you.”

Greetings are also important. Gache teaches kids to accept Aunt Martha’s sloppy wet kisses with a smile, always get up to welcome their parents’ friends, and whether Dad’s in the shower or overseas on business, if the phone rings, he’s simply unavailable.

Matteo and Scotty pair up to practice:

Matteo: Hello.

Scotty: Um, I’m calling for your father.

Gache: And what would he say first before that? He needs to identify who he is, OK?

Scotty: Matteo?

Matteo: Um, my father isn’t available, may I please take a message.

Scotty: Um . . . OK.

And every session ends with a five-course meal. Edibles and etiquette for $125? In Beverly Hills, that’s a bargain.

From Los Angeles, I’m Lenora Chu, for Marketplace.

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