Whilst on holiday in Edinburgh we met up with an old friend of Janet’s for lunch.
On being seated Sonny immediately picked up a knife and held it aloft.
Luca’s response was a blur of spoon and fork wizardry that would have left a mutant turtle questioning his ninja credentials.
This episode taught me two things. We don’t take the kids out for meals very often, and my lessons in table manners haven’t yet covered the difference between cutlery and weaponry.
That’s not entirely true. We do eat at restaurants quite a lot, albeit Chinese restaurants, and here lies another problem. A clash of cultures.
All my efforts in teaching the boys that it’s rude to burp at the dinner table can be undone with a single ground-shaking belch from their Chinese Great Nan. And this isn’t the actions of a ninety-seven year old who’s decided ‘to hell with digestive control’, this is totally acceptable in Chinese culture, as the random burps that echo around the restaurant will testify.
This isn’t to say the boys don’t have table manners. They do. I was brought up with a multitude of dinnertime do’s and don’ts. I’ve passed many of these on to them, others are open to compromise, while more still have been consigned to the pits of pointlessness for ever.
I insist on us all eating dinner together, around the table. There’s no leaving the table if you want a pudding, and there’s a three strike rule on pestering your brother as to whether he’s finished yet.
Their comedic licence on flatulence doesn’t cover the jurisdiction of the dining room, and will be revoked entirely for persistent misdemeanour’s.
I’m not bothered by elbows on the table, providing they’re not acting as leverage for a catapult laden with peas.
A blind eye is cast over the slurping of milk from their cereal bowls, and I’ve no issue with them licking the lid of their yoghurt. Lets face it, if they’re served yoghurt in a restaurant then it’s unlikely to be the type of establishment that has a maitre d’ on hand to quietly ask us to leave.
There’s no shortage of politeness though, with please and thank you’s abound, and they’ll not take food off your plate without asking first.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is I’m confident they’ll grow up to be very polite dinner guests. Should they find themselves at a social event where the table is set with multiple, course specific cutlery, and there are aperitifs, well, if I’m honest, they’re on their own. I will however expect them to sneakily fill a doggy bag for me, but then some things go without saying.