…but for today, my kids think I am the coolest, funniest, most permissive mom on the planet.
Here’s the back story:
We have been working on manners. My kids are great with the basics– please, thank you, excuse me, etc. However, our family mealtimes are much less pleasant, because everyone (but Mom!) talks with their mouths full and uses their shirts as napkins. Kendra is usually hanging half-off her chair, singing a song, Hannah has turned her utensils into dolls, who see the need to use her plate as their house (and her food as their furniture), and her drink as their car, Anthony’s plate teeters over the edge of his high chair tray as he sees just how far he can push it before it fails to keep its balance and falls to the floor, and Alex is lost in a dream world where food is a sensory tactile experience, with actual oral consumption a far, far distant second. (I am not kidding– when he eats mac & cheese, he has to lovingly fondle every piece before he spears it with his fork.) So, yeah, manners. Dining etiquette. We’re lacking, but we’re working.
I spend a good share of my meal policing behavior and trying to model correct eating. I try to make it fun and not nag too much. We’ve picked one manner to focus on each meal, we’ve tried three M & Ms at everyone’s plate that they lose when they talk with their mouth full, we’ve tried having SILENT meals… and all have been a bust in the real-life-application stage. I refuse to give up, though, because I know it is necessary, and especially because Kenny grew up in a house where fork-stabbing was the accepted method of behavior modification, and I refuse to let him revert to that method. (‘Cause, if you’ve seen him eat, you know how well that sunk in… pun intended) Seriously, though, when you see him next, you’ll have to ask him to show off his fork scars. He has some on his hands and one really bad one on his arm, when the fork tines actually punctured his muscle, because his dad had told him to get his elbows off the table and Kenny didn’t move them fast enough.
But I digress…
Today at lunch we had tuna sandwiches and Cheez-Its. I served the kids their lunches first, and then brought their drinks over to the table. They were already a little wound-up because it’s a Saturday, it’s Spring, and the weather is warm, so by the time I sat down to join them, they were already in full kid-manner mode. After a few unheeded reminders, I decided that for this one meal, lawlessness would reign. I told the kids they could use every bad manner they had in their arsenal, with the condition that it was for this ONE meal. And that Daddy would never hear a word about it.
Did you hear us? All that screaming and laughing and gas (!) was us. My little family of 5. It has been a looooong time since I’ve laughed so hard. It was so immature, laughing at the bodily noises emitted, but for a half hour, I became ten again. We had a contest to see who could chew the loudest, who could talk with the most food in their mouths, who could burp the best, and who could break the most etiquette rules at the same time. (Alex tried to put his feet on the table, but I had to draw the line at that one. He did well enough by laying his head on the table and eating sideways.) Someone *ahem* taught them the “Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit” song, and Alex was laughing so hard by that point, he was pounding his fist on the table, which set me off into a fit of giggles– again. It took the kids more than 30 minutes of running around the yard to calm down.
What’s the fun of being a mom if you can’t relate to your kids, right? The best part was when Alex gave me a hug and said, “I love it when you eat with us. You make everything funny.” I hope that one day they’ll have decent table manners, and when we eat dinner tonight, I’ll be back in my “I-don’t-want-to-see-what-you’re-eating” mode to help that dream become a reality. I sure hope they remember days like today, though, when their mom let the rules fall to the side and joined them in celebrating (and embracing!) immaturity.
And when they start singing “Beans, Beans” at school, I’m going to blame it on their dad.