05 Dec
The School Lunchroom: Where Good Manners Come to Die

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

Ever since my son was a toddler, my husband and I have worked hard to teach him good table manners. He was doing really well and we were proud of him, but then he started kindergarten and picked up bad habits from the other kids. The other night we were in a restaurant and he actually stabbed a dinner roll with his fork and blew bubbles with his straw! He says that’s how all of his friends do it and won’t listen to us. How can I get back my well mannered boy?

Signed,

Nice Manners, Babe

___________________________

Dear Nice Manners, Babe:

First of all, thank you so much for trying to teach your child good table manners. As someone who regularly dines in Texas BBQ restaurants and hamburger shacks, I certainly appreciate your efforts. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a 400-lb. Bubba spear a 10-pound rack of greasy ribs using the wrong fork. And don’t even get me started on what those crazy Texans do to the fingerbowls. (shudder)

Anyway, I think the key word in your question here is “kindergarten” because that means your son has finally left the nest and is now interacting with the world at large. The big, trashy, burps-at-the-table and tucks-their-napkin-into-their-shirt-collar world at large. And it can be a pretty tough adjustment for diligent parents like you and me. You know that book “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten”? It should only include two words: Armpit farts.

What I’m trying to say in my amazingly amusing way is that non-polite table manners are just the first of many, many bad habits, words and behavior that your son is going to learn from his peers. What you need to do as his mother is quash it immediately as well as consistently reinforce what you’ve taught him at home. The next time he shows bad manners, correct him and remind him that that’s not what you do in your family. Even if his feral friends in the lunchroom think it’s awesome.

You’re unfortunately fighting an uphill battle because kids learn at a young age that there’s really no clearer path to grade school popularity than being able to fit two cheesesticks up their nose. (I don’t want to name names, but sources tell me that’s how Ashton Kutcher launched his career.) But that’s why you need to remain firm with your son on your rules. And then, when he’s the best mannered boy in law school, you can toast your hard work with a celebratory glass of champagne.

Just don’t blow bubbles in it.

Good luck,

Wendi, TMH

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8 Responses to “The School Lunchroom: Where Good Manners Come to Die”

12.05.11#1

Comment by Plano Mom.

Great advice, Wendi! And I might add two things:
1) Expect that you will be reminding/nagging/screaming at him for the next 20 years, or until he gets a wife to do it for him.
2) Pick your battles, each and every day, but never, never, surrender once you’ve started one.

Marie Reply:

This is SO true (and funny), Plano Mom.

-MM

12.05.11#2

Comment by Meredith L..

If blowing bubbles and stabbing dinner rolls is the worst behavior your son comes home with, thank your lucky stars. I seem to recall certain kids in my elementary school who became known as “Those Kids” – the ones who will pour chocolate milk onto their pizza and top it with the creamed corn and then eat it. Also: the kid in fifth grade who used to make penises (penisi?) out of leftover aluminum foil.

Plano Mom Reply:

Aluminum dildos. Brilliant.

12.05.11#3

Comment by vodka tonic.

Glorified lunch lady here! Seriously, a teacher with an occasional enrollment gap, so I’m told to stand guard in the lunchroom. Let’s just say my nickname is, “Frau French Fry” (or Frau Pommes, to insiders). Be ready! By high school, they are grinding their lunch and beverages into one bowl and daring each other to chug it. Seriously, don’t make your boys sandwiches. They don’t eat them. And who’s with me for lunch menu reform?! A bag of Doritos with a scoop of mystery meat and golden cheese is NOT a hot lunch.

12.19.11#4

Comment by Dinner With Friends? Check Please! | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] The best option, and one with the least chance of getting you arrested or tackled by rowdy frat boys, is to stick to just going out to dinner with your immediate family. If you want to meet up with your friends and their children, try and plan some time at a playground where all of the children can run off their energy. You may be dining alone now but you should remember that the consistent parenting you are doing will… […]

12.29.11#5

Comment by karena milford.

Hahahahaha, I am a “lunch lady”, (they call me a cafeteria aide because they like to make it sound more professional. In a year or 2 my official title will be “milk carton opening technician”. At least that’s what I’m lobbying for.) Anyway, I’m a monitor and I’m out in the actual cafeteria keeping the children in their seats and solving disputes over whether the word “dam” when used in conjunction with beaver is still a bad word or not. What about if beaver is not a small furry mammal but rather a small furry part of a mammal and the dam part would be spelled damn and used as an exclaimation? Yep, my point being, it could be sooooo much worse. Did he fashion a set of boobs out of mashed potatoes? Did he point out that his spaghetti looks like bloody worms? Did he pretend to sneeze out a handful of Creamed corn or vomit it up? Keep stressing the importance of good manners and don’t fret, by thde time he’s in high school, he’ll know to only do that kind of stuff when you’re not around!

02.23.12#6

Comment by Star Wars. Kid Wars. | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] I can’t imagine that you are the only parents that have this issue. For some children, watching Star Wars may be no big deal (I’m talking about the first three, of course. I’m a grown up and, honestly, the last three – or prequels – gave me nightmares because they were so bad) but that doesn’t mean that your child falls into that group. That also doesn’t mean your child is alone in it either. Reach out to some of the other parents and see what they have to say. How have they handled it? This is just the beginning in your child wanting to do things that may, sometimes, not be right for him no matter what his friends are doing. […]

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