I was inspired by three sources to learn more about manners at mealtime. The first was my daughter who wanted to complete a goal from her Faith in God book to learn more about manners. So she went to the public library and checked out different manner books. It didn’t take long before she pointed out that my elbows were on the table. Now this didn’t surprise me because she is mature and dignified and has a natural grace. In fact, tonight she made an L with her thumb and index finger and then put it under her chin to check her posture. Although she is only 8, she chooses cream of mushroom soup over chicken nuggets and actually asks for seconds on salmon and vegetables. I love her.
My son was the second inspiration. He eats with his fingers, burps at the table, uses his shirt as a napkin (if he is wearing one), slurps his drink, and has even licked the drip on the bottle of the ranch dressing. Most of his food ends up on his face, the floor, or his shirt. Mealtime is about getting in as much meat as he can as fast as he can. He sits half-way on the chair so he can jump off the minute he is done to move on to his next mess. He is the antithesis of manners. I love him too.
The third inspiration was my childhood dinner table. My dad presided at the head and the table ran like a well oiled machine. We knew that the pepper had to stay with the salt, you addressed a person by name when you wanted them to pass a food item, and you didn’t start eating until everything made it around. It wasn’t so much that my dad was big on manners but more that there were 10 of us and he wanted a hot meal so he had to have some kind of system in place. I didn’t know it then, but the order at the table facilitated dinner conversation and fond memories. Learning manners actually made the dinner more about each other and less about manners.
All of these inspirations combined to give birth to the idea of Monday Night Manners. Since we didn’t want to bite off more than we could chew, we decided to only learn one new manner a week. We usually have a Monday night family meal, so we agreed that this would be the best time to introduce, learn, and discuss a mealtime manner. Then we would have the rest of the week to practice our new found skill. After the week is up, we will be expected to use that manner regularly. Our manner study will culminate with a dinner at a fancy restaurant where we can put our skills to the test. Wish us luck!