Table Manners

Mark Parenting, Popular 8 Comments

Whilst on holiday in Edinburgh we met up with an old friend of Janet’s for lunch.

table manners childrenOn being seated Sonny immediately picked up a knife and held it aloft.

“En garde!”

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.

Comments 8

  1. Comedic licence on flatulence – love it. We have that licence too and it was inherited – or should I say ‘passed’ down – from my parents. Super post as always – a struck some chords. 🙂

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  2. Just found your blog via Sarah for The Monday Club. Sounds like you have taught your little ones some good manners. There are still children a lot older who can’t behave when out and the saddest thing is their parents don’t correct them.

    Manners cost nothing and It’s one thing I insist on with mine.

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  3. It sounds like you’re doing a good job with such young kids. My 12yo’s table manners are atrocious and the 7 and 9yo’s aren’t much better. I don’t know where I went wrong!
    Love the burping Chinese Great Nan 🙂

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  4. I remember my grandpa burping and telling me it is very polite in China. I remain unconvinced, but…

    I do think table manners can say an awful lot and I try to instil them in my three. At the moment we are battling with blowing bubbles into cereal milk. Damn those free bowls with in-built straw….

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