Messy spaghetti 2

Have old fashioned table manners died out in your family? They have in mine…

Old fashioned table manners are dying out in today’s families, according to a survey I read via Netmums this week. This is not that much of a surprise to me, if I’m honest, because round at my house, the vast majority of old fashioned table manners have indeed gone the way of the Dodo.

Among the transgressions cited in this survey are: neglecting to wash hands before dinner; eating at speed; leaving the table before everyone’s finished; burping; slurping; licking the knife, talking with a full mouth; spilling food; using fingers rather than cutlery; putting elbows on the table; injecting toilet humour into the conversation; and – the ultimate in 21st century boorishness – operating a mobile, laptop or games console as you dine.  Adults are as bad as kids, the survey chides, and many parents are too bad-mannered themselves to teach good manners to their children.

Um. Well, I have to admit that table manners are not my family’s forte. Meal times chez nous are a festival of spilled food, disgusting noises, inappropriate conversations and cutlery denial. Three out of four of us eat far too fast for healthy digestion, whilst the remaining one is so slow that flies will usually move in to finish her food before she has. (And it’s because of this that no-one bothers to object when Miss P the younger takes leave of the table while her sister’s still eating, having reached repletion some hours earlier. I mentioned this in a previous post, BTW.)

We are not such utter degenerates that anyone has attempted yet to bring a games console or laptop to the table, I am pleased to report. But mobile phones? Ok, ok, yes. There is a member of this family who occasionally brings her handset to the table and, yes, has been known to receive or send a text message as she chews. Hey, look, I’m a busy lady. What can I say?

Anyway, my point really is that we don’t expect most of the old fashioned table manners this survey’s talking about from our children. And that’s partly because we know full well we don’t always demonstrate them, but it’s also because, as I do believe I mention in *plug alert* my book, Dealing with Difficult Eaters, kids need to know that sitting down and eating together is fun. Especially when they’re fussy eaters, like the aforementioned Miss P the elder.

Naturally, there are some limits to be adhered to (no standing on the table, no being mean about my cooking, no pre-meditated food fights involving missiles of a sloppy texture, etc, etc) but really, will the world will end if someone puts their elbows on the table, makes slurpy noises whilst eating their soup, or sucks up their spaghetti by the strand? No. And to be honest, I’m always so grateful that everyone’s tucking into tea with gusto, I’m not going to rock the boat by banging on about it when they do.

Let’s face it, lots of families these days don’t have the time, inclination, or even the required furniture to share mealtimes these days.

Hey – at least we sit down and eat like pigs together.

Miss P the elder as a small girl. Wasn’t then, and still isn’t terribly proficient at, eating spaghetti

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  1. This is a hot topic in our household at the moment. I drew the line at burping then after a recent family meal with the Chinese in-laws where each course was concluded with a burp-fest, I’m left trying to explain cultural differences to a confused toddler.

    As the debate continued between my partner and I our boys had up and left the table taking their yoghurt and blueberries into the front room to eat in front of the TV, smearing blueberry on every surface on route … oh well.

  2. My philosphy is to make mealtimes fun and enjoyable. I’ve never really bothered about banging on about cutlery. They are old enough now to know that they use it when they’re out. We generally sit at the table together to eat and mostly we wait till everyone’s finished unless there’s a verrrry slow eating going on. In terms of conversation – anything goes. So what are table manners anyway? Isn’t it more important that children grow up enjoying eating and mealtimes?

  3. Hahahahaha. Love it. But I really don’t think you should worry too much about table manners.
    As long as my children aren’t like pigs at the trough, licking their plates and slopping food everywhere I give myself a break.
    My 6-year-old still likes eating with his fingers. I have to nag him to use a fork/spoon (otherwise it gets a bit messy with mashed potato!)
    And my boys don’t sit still through an entire meal. There’s lots of getting up and dancing around. Not great in a restaurant.
    But I know it’ll all come. Get the basics right, and the kids will eventually realise what’s acceptable .
    Thanks for linking to Parentonomy by the way.

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