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    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Table Manners

    A lot of parental instruction (read: lecturing) goes on around our dinner table. At the table, our children hear that they should not burp so loud that Great Grandma’s china hutch rattles. And during mealtimes we remind the boys to eat with forks like humans and to say things like “Please, may I have the macaroni and cheese,” instead of pointing at food and delivering guttural cave person grunts. “Uuuhhh!”

    As is often the case with uninterrupted nagging, very little change results. Our boys still eat like chimpanzees, and the best we can hope for is a self-satisfied “Excuse me” after one of their earthquake burps.

    But the other day Monkey introduced a new topic for the Manners Committee (Mom, Dad, Grandma.) He told us his class talked about calling names during one of the school counselor’s regular visits. For several minutes after that, he and his brother listed all the possible names one could, but should not, call someone. Poopy Head and Maniac topped the list.

    Monkey told an ambiguous story about a time in recent or perhaps distant history when a child having neither name nor gender called him a very mean, yet forgettable, name. Having a highly-developed sense of justice, his brother leapt into the discussion with some aggressive suggestions for dealing with Monkey’s nebulous bully. Chunky’s tactics included yelling really loud, swiping toys, and some heated, but indecipherable, threats.

    To his credit, Monkey insisted that walking away and telling a teacher was a better method for dealing with name-calling. We were quite pleased that he’d soaked up some instruction, even if it wasn’t ours. Now all we have to do is buy a cape and some spandex for Chunky, our vigilante preschooler.

    1 comment:

    Daphne said...

    Sigh. smile. I think I may need to meet your vigilante preschooler and introduce him to my emotionally unstable one. Your first two paragraphs made me laugh with recognition. My table is also the place where such useless conversations are played out. Tonight it was about what to do in a fire (and how you don't pull fire alarms when there is no fire). We are currently trying to drill into Seth's little brain that if ever anything is wrong (even if you did it) you "tell Mom"