Friday, March 10, 2017

One more thing I never thought about until today

How many years do parents have to teach their children table manners?  It’s a process that must take years.
I couldn’t remember myself or my parents doing this, but they must have.
I never thought about this until today, when my college classmate brought her 8 year old grand-daughter up to visit me.
We went out to lunch.
She is a beautiful child. She’s very shy, and very well-mannered.  But she is still 8 years old.  My friend had to correct her and encourage her at the table on how to manage a fairly complicated croissant grilled ham and cheese  sandwich:  pick it up and eat it, don’t tear it into little pieces with your fingers . The little girl did very well with it, but I was also awed by my friend, the grandmother: capable, gracious, but direct and directive. It worked.
Then I thought:  my friend is one of seven children. She and her husband had three children, and now she has seven grandchildren.  She is used to eating with children, and helping them learn to use their knives, forks, spoons, and napkins correctly.  What long love and patience has been involved !
I came home and googled "teaching children table manners" and read a great lot of interesting information from many mothers.
I never thought about any of this!   Me -  the only child of older parents, eating at the table with my mom and dad all my childhood.
No older or younger siblings to distract me, or to distract them from me.
And then, away to college – I only recall one time when I noticed the table manners of myself or my classmates, and it was a very funny one.
Then, after college, for seven years, eating many meals alone, and on the run.
Then, the following thirty-nine years of my adult life, eating always with other adults.  Today is one of the few times I have eaten with an 8 year old!
What I have missed!  What I didn’t even know I had missed!  One of those rituals of adult life that people don’t even notice when they are performing it.


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