Monday, April 20, 2009


This weeks spin cycle is manners. Which is a tough one for me. I would love to think I'll raise my boy to have perfect manners, but so far, I'm luck I can get him to sit down for a minute.

I think it's really hard to instill manners these days. Everyone seems to have a different opinion of what's ok, and what's rude. And some people just feel a little more relaxed about things that they did, say 20 years ago.

For instance, I grew up in a house where manners were pretty important. We weren't allowed to play with a toy, or wear an outfit, that was a gift until the Thank You note was written and in the mail. We NEVER ate with our hands. I mean ever. No tacos, no hot dogs, no hamburgers at our dinner table. Those were picnic foods. At the table you ate with a knife and fork (and when my Mom jonsed for a burger, she made it with gravy and called it Salisbury Steak). Beds were made everyday before we went to school, and there was never a stray toy out of the box when we went to bed. Martha Stewart had nothing on my Mom. And my Dad enforced the social rules. We never called an adult by their first name, always Mr. or Mrs. Sometimes we abbreviated it to say, Mr. S, or Mrs. M. The only exception was very close family friends, who were Uncle or Aunt. Even if someone said, "Oh, please, call me Bob." my Dad would explain that he would rather not have us do that. And that's just how it was. Rules weren't different outside the house than in it. Everyone got the same respect.

Nowadays, though, I don't always follow these. For instance, we had tacos for dinner last night. And ate them in front of the TV (I know, we suck.) Whatever. LG was done with his meal long before PB finished ours, and he wanted to play. So we ate tacos and he played. My Mom would have had a cow. We call the teachers at school Ms and then their first name (sort of a compromise?) And I'm ok with these changes. We still follow the thank you rule, though, mostly because I'm afraid we'll totally forget.

I think in the chaos of a day, it's also harder to follow through. A prime example was this weekend. Some of the fam took us out to lunch on Saturday. Good deal. LG was not happy to be sitting in a high chair while he wanted to nap. Completely my bad. He behaved so so at best. However, not the point of the story. One of my nieces ordered spaghetti and french fries (only a kid, right?). Now, she's not "little". She's more in between. And she proceeded to eat it with her hands. Which almost killed me. My SIL must have told her 5 times to stop, but it didn't happen. I tried once or twice (completely not my place, but I had to sit next to the mess...). Still nothing. So what do you do? Would it have been worth it to make a scene at the restaurant to enforce table manners? I don't think so. She wasn't hurting anyone. Yeah, she made a mess, but she cleaned it up before we left. I know my niece can eat perfectly well with a fork. I have seen her do it many times, so it's not a matter of knowing how to behave properly, she knows. She just had a different idea that afternoon.

I think part of the change is fear (this just occurred to me). I used to fear my parent's wrath. No, not in the sense that I was always scared, they never did anything bad to me. But I was worried about their disapproval, and disappointing them. Oh, and the occasional whack with the wooden spoon. I can honestly say, I don't think my nieces fear my SIL at all. Nor does LG fear PB or I. I don't necessarily think kids think much about how their parents will feel when they do things anymore. They are far more independent. It might have come with the new age. Cell phones, computers all that stuff put more responsibility on kids earlier.

You might have said that using the french fries as a fork for the spaghetti was creative. But then would you be excusing bad behavior for the sake of creativity? I think that happens more now, too. What was once bad behavior is now considered showing individuality or creativity. I think that's krappe, personally. But that's just me.

Who knows. I'm babbling now. I'll stop.


Sprite's Keeper said...

I think creativity has it's limits. When you're using a fry as a fork, it's really an excuse not to use your fork.
I am so stringent on table manners and I want Sprite to follow my example since John is much more lax on them. You and I seem to follow the same train of thought!
Great Spin! You're linked!

Mrsbear said...

Oh, a little fear goes a long way, definitely. My kids know bad behavior has its consequences and a lot of times they're even afraid to disappoint us, but it's a useful tool to keep them inline, particularly when you're out in public. It's what keeps you from having to say "quit it" 8,000 times. Although French Fries and spaghetti sounds pretty good right about now. ;)

Lisa (Jonny's Mommy) said...

When it comes to little ones I don't worry so much about them eating with their hands with certain things. I'd probably draw the line at spaghetti. My mom was a little proper on certain things, but usually corrected us in a polite way. that's how she's always been -- polite. She taught me a lot of manners. Sometimes I follow her lessons, sometimes I blow my nose right at the dinner table like a bad girl! :-)