Thursday, March 29, 2012

Etiquette 101

     When I got home from the bookstore yesterday, I pulled a book out of my bag, showed it to Hubs and announced "I have become my grandmother."  I was referring to a time years ago when my grandma gave my twin sister and me a Miss Manners book "To Marian and Margaret for Christmas and Birthday."  Neither of us asked for that particular "gift", but recently I have found myself wishing I had it.

     I was at dinner with my friends one night when I conceded that my daughter has awful table manners.  My hope was that my girlfriends would come to my rescue with tips and tricks to help me and my daughter.  Instead it was met with a resounding "mine too!" from all the moms at the table. The next half hour was a gripe session about our kids' poor table manners.  This time, my friends didn't have the answers.

     I really have been trying to teach Blondie table manners, but this is met with resistance.  Lately, dinners at our house have become a nagging session where Blondie seems to think we are picking on her.  I need something that will show Blondie that manners aren't something her father and I arbitrarily made up.

     Again I am reminded of my grandma who was a stickler for manners.  During meals with her we were instructed to get our elbows off the table, put our knife down after cutting our meat, put our utensils down while we chew our food etc.  But it's not these obscure rules that I'm trying to teach Blondie.  All I want is a meal where my sweet girl sits in her seat properly, drops crumbs on her plate instead of all over the floor, and uses a fork instead of her fingers.  A five course meal with with three different forks can be taught later.

     I remembered that our Parks and Recs department offered etiquette classes for 6+ year old children.  I've been holding this class over my daughter's head for months: "fix your manners or I'm sending you to manners class."  Finally, Hubs looked at me and said "sign her up."   I went online, but these classes are no longer available.  Then, I googled etiquette classes in OC.  The first three links were all dead ends - links to an era when people had disposable income.  The class I was dangling over Blondie's head is no longer an option.

     Now I'm forced to rethink my strategy because it looks like this dreaded job is falling to me.  In an unexpected turn of events I was at the local bookstore looking for a manners book for Blondie. I thought "my daughter responds well to books.  A book will show her that these are actual rules that exist in a world outside of Mom and Dad." 

     At bedtime I presented Blondie with her new book.  I saw the excitement in her eyes as she took in the cute pictures of girls on the front cover.  I watched as she skimmed the book's title.  I saw her entire inner dialogue:
a smart girl's guide "that's me! I'm smart!"
to "to what??? I'm so excited!"
manners her face visibly fell "manners???  My parents got me a book about manners???" 
(All of that was silent.)

Out loud Blondie said "ugh!"

I think I've found our first lesson from our new book: accepting gifts graciously.  And no, we can't exchange this "gift" for something else.


  1. awesome, do they have one for boys??? I brought out an antique copy of Emily Post's Etiquette just to prove to Kyle that we were not even half as bad as parents used to be back then. The "no elbows on the table" discussion was very interesting and the the book went into far more detail than we needed. Hilary

    1. They have a few books for boys if you look on Amazon. I was surprised the "no elbows on the table" thing isn't a big deal anymore. That one was hammered into me growing up.


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