Manner #11: How to Use Your Fork Correctly or Use Your Fork Not Your Fingers!
Attention Getter: I set the table with a pencil in the fork place. As you would expect, the kids noticed the missing forks and the out-of-place pencils right away and wondered what it would have to do with manners. Well, I’ll tell you….
Manner: How you use your fork depends on where you live. In America, you are to hold your fork like you hold a pencil except your hand is about 2/3 up the shank rather than being close to the point like a pencil. (Now this implies that you are actually using a fork and not your fingers.) The tines (pokey things) of the fork point up, and you use the fork like a scoop rather than poking and stabbing at your food. Next, I was surprised to learn that you use your fork to eat almost everything including rice, corn, peas, cake, mashed potatoes, etc. ( I was guilty of using my spoon too much.) And what if you can’t get those pesky peas to stay on your fork? I read in a few places that you aren’t supposed to use your knife to help you. So I am not sure what to tell you other than a knife, in my opinion, is better than your fingers. So do what you gotta do. Plus using your knife is how it’s done in Europe. The fork can also be used to cut foods like pancakes, lasagna, softer meats, etc. Lastly, if you want to set your fork down in between bites, set it ON your plate on the left side not on the table. We wouldn’t want to soil the tablecloth.
|This hold is a little too far down on the shank of the fork. But the stars aligned, and my model had clean fingernails AND no marker stains on his hands, so we’re sticking with this picture.|
Why: When you hold your fork correctly, it naturally brings your elbows down and keeps them by your sides rather in your neighbor’s space. I had my kids hold it like an icepick and we saw what that grip did to our elbows. And just like you can write neater and with more control if you hold a pencil the right way, so it is with eating. You will make less of a mess, have more dexterity and control and look more dignified if you hold your fork correctly.
Practice: At the beginning of each meal we held our forks like a pencil and I checked everyone out to make sure that we were at least starting the meal off right. I served tricky foods throughout the week like rice, corn, and homemade macaroni to stretch their skills. We also did some fork cutting practice with enchiladas and waffles. We have waffles most Wednesdays (because I’m a nerd like that) and someday everyone is going to be able to cut their own waffle. (This is as big as I dream right now.)
Extension: We don’t eat with our fingers, but at least we can paint with them! We rolled out some butcher paper in the garage, got some washable finger paints and made a mess….with our fingers.