Friday, March 20, 2015

A Generational Table Manners Deficit

UPDATE: Before you read this. A lot of you are my friends. I like your kids! Sincerely, despite all the crazy stuff I say. They are great kids. As are mine. And I do not exclude my own kids here. So don't get mad at me or anything, please. When you think about it, we've overall done a great job with these kids - but we missed this one thing.


In a thousand ways, today's kids are wonderful - so much better than I remember my friends and I being at the same age. They are kinder, more thoughtful, and more considerate. Somehow though, we forgot to teach them table manners.

On a family trip we met with an old friend of mine from school. Our families met. His kids were wonderful and so very sweet. His son earnestly proposed that they build a second story on their house so we could move in with them. I also saw him fold a sausage patty and dip it, with his hands, into the little syrup pitcher.

I've seen kids, kids who really should know, kids with wonderful manners and very nice parents, eat spaghetti with their fingers.

The little Goofs are better - because I yell at them constantly. But still, using silverware isn't quite second nature. You can see they have to think about it at every turn. Too often, when they can't solve the food to face problem with silverware they resort to hands. Maybe placing food into their fork with their fingers or "forgetting" to use a fork. Large chunks of food are simply speared and eaten with pieces bitten off. When I remind them to use a knife they hack ineffectually as though I sent them out to job wood. I'm pretty sure by the time I was in my double digits I was cutting my own food on a regular basis.

Children who can perform complex operations on two electronic devices simultaneously cannot manage to use two pieces of silverware in conjunction.

Even when they are using the silverware it is awkward. Forks come to mouths along strange vectors that same likely to result in spillage. I believe they are trying to have accidents so I will recognize that hands are just so much more efficient than silverware. But I won't back down.

I really don't want to give the wrong impression. The kids I'm talking about aren't barbarous eaters, throwing food around. And their eating habits are excellent. The little Goofs insist on vegetables and most of their friends will eat a good helping of vegetables without complaint.

Maybe it is our fault. A diet heavy on chicken fingers, pizza, croissants, and carrot sticks lends itself to hands, not silverware.

And they are great kids. I guess it is a good trade-off - table manners for social manners. But was it a trade-off that had to be made?

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