For months now, maybe even for a couple of years I have jokingly, threatened to enroll my kids in Etiquette Class. They completely detest the idea but it doesn’t seem to bother them enough to remind them of their manners. Being raised in a conservative household, I think it’s a ridiculous way to spend money. Secretly, I love the idea of them sitting around a stuffy table with a buttoned-up, older woman saying, “Raise your elbows! Unfold your linen and place it on your lap.” Yes! That idea makes me laugh, like an evil, Cruella Deville laugh, Wahhahaaha!
Because I’ve jokingly made this threat they don’t take me serious, which is to be expected. The other day a brilliant plan came to mind, though. Before I tell you about it let me explain a few of my struggles. I have one child who will place heaps of food on his fork and shovel as much in as possible. His mouth can barely remain closed as he chews because of the ginormous bite. He thinks this is normal. It’s a bit embarrassing to think that other parents have had to experience this when they’ve had him over for dinner. I know there are worse things to be concerned about.
Another issue we struggle with also occurs around the dinner table. No wonder family therapists recommend eating dinner together so many times a week. It forces families to deal with their issues. We deal with constantly interrupting each other, making it nearly impossible to finish a conversation without being side tracked with another topic. Dinner time = game time with me blowing the metaphorical whistle playing referee, and directing these little people on how to be respectful to one another in conversation. “We TAKE Turns!” I know was shouted at least a gazillion times when they were toddlers. I guess they need to be reminded of this as they mature. Sometimes I allow the convo. to go to complete insanity mode (where everyone is talking at once, the volume steadily increasing), just because I’m curious to see if they’ll notice. The struggle of who has the most important thing to say is real. I figure it will work itself out, eventually. Usually, my middle-child will share something truly funny on accident, which makes it even funnier. My unspoken rule is that whoever is being funny gets the floor. Because who doesn’t appreciate funny?
Here’s my idea: an “Etiquette Jar” to collect fines from the kids. They will use their own money to cover etiquette class (insert clapping). If I have to remind them of their manners or to be polite, they’ll deposit anywhere from a quarter to $2. While I think for some there is a need for etiquette class, I am not going to be the parent paying for it. The jar concept is not original by any means (Read about Maria Shriver and what her Dad would do), having the kids pay for something they Do Not Want to do is priceless to me. 🙂 Life lessons can be oh, sooo sweet!