Thursday, June 11, 2009

Elbows off the Table

My kids are currently impossible at the table. Every single meal involves at least five or six occasions of me or David asking them, "Is that good table manners?" and them replying with a reluctant "Noooooo...."

I would like to be able to eat at a restaurant someday, not that we used to eat out all the time or go to super fancy establishments or anything, but we never had to completely abandon restaurants when Jabber was a baby. Sure, we had to bring a lunch from home for him since the odds were extremely high that he would be allergic to everything on their menu, but at least we could bring him places. He would sit, mostly quietly, and color/snack on Cheerios or whatever until it was time to eat, and then he would eat in a way that suggested he was a slightly inexperienced but well-meaning human, and we would clean up, leave a big tip, and go home. No dirty looks or anything.

Now that Monkey has joined us and become mobile, etc., we cannot even handle the most casual of formats for a dinner outside the home. I mean, we can barely keep it together for a meal at McDonald's. Once we went out for a sit-down dinner at a very kid-friendly casual place, and I swear, neither David nor I had a chance to say one word to each other, what with all the trips to the bathroom and the picking things up off the floor and the walking the baby to the windows, etc. That was a year ago, and I cannot even begin to imagine what a restaurant trip would look like today, now that Monkey is firmly entrenched in the terrible twos, so to speak.

Dinner at our home now includes things like constant interruptions (conversation? only if it closely aligns with Jabber's agenda), spitting, tossing, scraping of forks, tipping over of chairs, yelling, funny noises, standing on chairs, food stolen from other people's plates and eaten, food removed from the mouth and placed on my plate, clothing used as napkins, beverages used as fingerpaint, table used as jungle gym...basically it bears little resemblance to dinner.

It's not that we don't value manners; we're constantly trying to show them good manners and enforce/reinforce them. I don't get it, but we've informed them that we'd like to eat out occasionally but can't until we see that they are capable of exhibiting human-like behavior during the course of a normal dinner.

How do you teach your kids manners, or are they just beautiful little darlings who wouldn't ever dream of using yogurt as hair gel?


Catherine said...

I can assure you that my kids are not little angels at the table.

The SLave likes to watch Formula One, but we don't have satellite - and the only place that screens it near us is the pizzeria up the road.

And he thinks it's a big treat for us all to go there, but it really isn't. While he sits at the bar smoking and drinking and watching the race, i get to run after delinquent children who want to dance all over the restaurant.


I feel for you.

elissa said...

rather than eating food like grown-ups, the children instead use mealtime to feed off each other's mischief.