Up to this point I had always just accepted that Eli’s terrible meal-time habits were just a part of him. That’s Eli, he’s just messy. It never occurred to me that I could instigate some sort of change in his behavior, and it certainly never occurred to me that as his mother I was responsible to do so.
So at lunchtime today I resolved to sit at the table with the boys during lunch and teach them manners. It went like this:
“Don’t eat until we say the prayer. Don’t put your fingers in your drink. Your food must stay on the plate. The plate must stay on the table. Don’t get up from your chair until you’ve been excused. Don’t wipe your face with your shirt. Please eat with your utensils and not your fingers. Don’t crumble your crackers. Don’t slurp your noodles.”
Then it dawned on me, the obvious truth. You can’t expect to teach children these things in one meal. The fact that Eli’s habits were more my fault than his became suddenly apparent to me. At breakfast time I usually feed them and then eat my breakfast alone so I can read. I typically fix their lunch and then eat mine in front of the computer. Dinner time is better, we usually eat as a family. But when Richard is out of town I sit at the table only long enough to finish my own meal and then proceed to the sink where the dishes await.
From now on, or at least until meal-time manners improve, it’s three meals a day at the kitchen table for the three of us. As juvenile as the conversations may be, I know quiet meals are just one of those things that I gave up when I decided to have children.
I know. It’s worth it.