Recently, I served my son an after school snack of cookies and milk (because I’m all Martha like that) and after nibbling at the chocolate-covered discs, he drained the last of his milk into hi mouth without stopping. Adorable.
And then he did something I’ve never seen him do before: he plucked at his shirt from chest-level, lifted it to his mouth, and WIPED the milk moustache away.
“OLIVER! What the…? Did you just…? Hey, man!!”
He started giggling. He always giggles when I say Hey, man…
But I was being completely serious. “Oliver! Did you wipe milk off your mouth with your shirt? What kind of behaviour is that? Disgusting!!”
“Uh, sorry. I forgot.”
He didn’t forget. He’s never done this before. He used a napkin. Because napkins are for wiping mouths and faces – not shirts. Not ever. He knows this.
“Oliver, really. PLEASE use a napkin. It’s important. Never, ever with your shirt, okay?”
This summer I noticed something different about how he ate his sandwich. He’d put it in his mouth, but instead of just biting it, he’d clamp down and tear his head away from the sandwich. Like a caveman.
Not at my table, sir. Not in my house.
“Um, Oliver? Is there a problem with your sandwich? Is the bread too hard or something?”
He looks at me, and then at his sandwich, and then back at me. “Uh, no? Why do you ask?”
“Well, you should bite it with your teeth, darling. You don’t rip a piece off… you bite it. Please. It’s polite.”
And don’t talk with your mouth full. And please remember to offer the bowl, and not extend a cracker with your fingers to our guests. And for goodness sake, DON’T lick your plate like like that!
Le sigh. It all seems like such minutea, but at the end of the day, manners are important. They show respect for others around you, and I won’t accept him not knowing any better. Not while I’m alive anyway.
I do believe one of the things that attracted me most about my husband was his lovely table manners.