Background: The other night Crew was chomping and smacking loudly on a chicken nugget in the back seat of the car. Here is the conversation that took place:
Me: “Crew, honey, you are chewing very loudly.”
Crew: “How loud am I supposed to chew?”
Me: “You aren’t supposed to chew loud. You are supposed to chew quietly.”
Me: “It’s kind of like nails on a chalkboard. It just grosses some people out and we want to be courteous to others and their feelings.”
Crew: “Well, you haven’t taught us that manner yet.”
I guess it was time to teach the chewing manners:
Attention Getter: Once dinner was started, my husband told a joke: “Hey, Croft! Do you like sea food?” Then he held his mouth open and showed a mouth full of chewed food. The punchline is “See food!” Of course all the kids had to try their turn at this lame, but effective, joke.
Manner: 1. Chew with your mouth closed.
2. Chew quietly. No smacking, chomping, slurping, etc. No one should hear your every chew.
3. Don’t talk when your mouth is full of food. It is unrealistic to think you will never say anything with food in your mouth- dinner conversation would be next to impossible, but make sure most of the food is gone. You may be able to speak with a little food remaining.
4. Don’t take too big of bite so that you can’t close your mouth or so that the shape of your face distorts- my kids call them chipmunk cheeks. (Be careful what you post on FB- I might just use you as an example, with your permission of course. Thanks, Nick!)
Why: The chewing manners are basically about courtesy for your neighbors at dinner. No one wants to see or hear what you are chewing. Also, smaller bites and a closed mouth would decrease the mess on the face, napkin, table, and back seat of the car. Small bites are safer too. My husband told a story here about how he choked on bread when he and his buddies were having a bread eating contest because he took too big of bites. (He ended up having to give himself the Heimlich because his buddies thought he was joking. It’s amazing any boy makes it past age 12!)
Practice: Later in the week, we took turns being blind folded while the rest of us took turns chewing. We would point to someone when we could hear them chewing. Those of us not blindfolded felt sneaky and stelth-like- we tried to chew as quietly as possible so we wouldn’t get caught. The blindfold impeded dinner too much, so we ended up just closing our eyes for round two. I think the blind fold would work better at snack time when there isn’t as much going on.
Follow-Up: I told the kids I had a mini candy bar for them as soon as they mastered the chewing manners. I wanted them to know they were working towards something. I used a Charleston Chew and the note said, “It was nice to see you CHEW with manners”. I have yet to award one, but I have the card ready as an act of hope.
Or you could do a pack of Big League Chew or bubble gum and say ” Thank you for ‘Chewsing’ to Chew with Manners”.