Tuesday, June 09, 2015

I Have Failed

OK, so I admit, I have never been a big stickler for table manners.

I mean, I know the "rules." I know how to properly set a table, and have taught been trying to teach my kids to do the same. (They think it's ridiculous. Why does it matter? Who cares, anyway???)
But I'm not a manner-nazi.
For instance, I don't put my napkin on my lap unless I'm at a nice restaurant. Even then, half the time I only do it because I see someone else do it and I think, Oh, yeah! Table manners would be good here.
I didn't know there is such a thing as a "wet side" and "dry side" of a table. And I had no idea it is acceptable to eat asparagus spears with your fingers.
But, once my kids were past their toddler years I required them to use utensils. I get after a certain son of mine about his habit of stabbing an entire piece of meat with his fork, rather than cutting it into bite-sized pieces. And I at least roll my eyes - if not chastise the culprit - when someone belches at the table.

However, since Grandma has joined us I have felt the need to step up our manners training. I mean, Grandma always puts her napkin on her lap. She never takes a bite of food until all have been served, and I have picked up my fork. And, heaven forbid she would ever put her elbows on the table.
At times I have simply pointed out her behavior, and asked the boys if they noticed. Or if they had any idea she was demonstrating a particular manner. You know, a feeble attempt at training. Other times I have asked them to remove their elbows from the table, or reminded them to take smaller bites. (I appreciate that they enjoy my cooking. But I'd like them to savor it a little. *ahem*)

But last weekend I felt like all my attempts have been futile.

Matthew My son asked if we needed forks when he was setting the table. At that moment, he only knew we were having bean burritos - which I allow to be picked up and eaten. But we were also having corn. So I told him, "Yes," we needed forks. And he chuckled because he often eats his corn with his fingers, too. (In spite of my wishes. *ahem*) I just gave him the look and went about getting dinner on the table.
As dinner progressed, I noticed said child picking up corn kernels with his fingers and popping them into his mouth. I immediately reminded him of the fork sitting to the left of his plate (Because that's where the fork should be placed.) and he reluctantly began using it. He also began his typical diatribe about the pointlessness of manners. Including a call to not conform to society. *insert eye roll*
Moments later - while the discussion of table manners was still taking place - I asked him to use his fork and knife with his burrito, instead of ripping it apart into tiny pieces with his fingers.
His response? "But if I take bigger pieces, I won't be able to talk while I'm eating!"

I looked at Brian and mouthed, "I have failed."



Crys said...

It is hard to teach manners when you are just trying to get the food on the table and everyone to sit down. We have done okay with table setting (picture on the wall for many years) and use your silverware instead of your hands, mostly. Napkins on the lap? Not really. If my boys remember to use a napkin instead of their shirt it is a win ;) Now that my oldest is leaving home for college, I see the need to step up a formal lesson a few times a year. We attended a dinner at the university and she was unsure and self conscious of what utensil to use and where things went, etc. There will be times in our lives when table manners count. My dad took my now husband aside almost 30 years ago to let him know that chewing with his mouth open in front of employers or customers could be a detriment to his career. I am thankful now after 23 years of marriage that he chews with his mouth closed :) ha ha. You still have time and so do I, praise the Lord.

Karen Hossink said...

Crys - "If my boys remember to use a napkin instead of their shirt it is a win ;)" Yeah. That, too!
And what you said about times when manners will count - if I could only convince my sons of that truth. Ahhhhh, hopefully they'll get it. Some day. :)