I have a dear friend who told me that she often threatened to duct tape her child to the dining room chair if he didn’t learn to sit on his bottom and eat at the dinner table without getting up or moving around. I hate to admit it, ladies and gentlemen, but there are times I’ve found myself thinking she’s actually got a pretty good idea here. Kids are clearly not built with an internal set of manners. Teaching etiquette and manners is one of those parenting jobs that remains, shall we say, monotonous.
“Sit in your chair.” “Please remember to clear your plates.” “Get your legos off of the dinner table!” “Do NOT bang your fork on your cup.” “There is no way you need that much ketchup!” Dining with children is always so lovely, right?
I was recently lamenting with friends about our shared struggles with children and using good manners. We are all trying hard to beat the drum of continual reminders in their heads. Like most things with kids, it feels like it takes 10-15 years of repeating things ad-nauseum before anything sets in and becomes a practice. I am sure some would argue it takes even longer than that. While I am always reassured when some of my most revered Mom-role models struggle with the same things I do, the shared frustration does little to help in the moment. Spending an entire meal correcting your children gets so old, so quick. Especially when you have just spent the last 30-45 minutes preparing the meal to begin with.
It often feels like the “broken record” approach is, well, broken. And then last week, I came across this gem of a reminder that Grace made a few years ago. My memory is a little blurry on it, but I believe she was in First Grade or so, and clearly by then had at least committed some rules to memory (even if her practice was still a bit shaky). I believe she penned this after an especially challenging dinner with her brothers, who were (and still are) significantly underdeveloped in the manners practice. I plan to frame this list in the next week and put it up in our kitchen as a good reminder for us all.
Carry on, you warriors. I know you feel like a broken record, but I have faith these little people will learn the right manners eventually. And heck, if all else fails, there’s always the threat of duct tape.