Thursday, February 24, 2011

MANNER # 6 - What Not To Do at the Table

So we have been working on knife and fork use, and as I previously mentioned the placement of the knife and fork when you complete your meal.  Specifically, when you are done you keep you napkin on your lap, never put it on the table.  When you are done and if leaving the table, you may fold it neatly and slide it under the right side of your plate.  You then should place your knife and fork across your plate pointing to 3 or 4 o'clock. This lets everyone know you are finished. 

Okay, THEY DID IT. Tonight before dinner I prepared them and said that dinner would be ready soon and they should wash up and they stopped playing and went to wash their hands.  I put the food on the table and they arrived just as I called to them.  My goodness, that was easy.  Well, let's see if they can keep it up.  And btw, we had dinner guests.  Maybe they were a good influence on my boys?  Anyway, when the meal was over our guest announced, " I am done."  Lukas said, and I quote word for word, "You do not need to say that, just place your knife and fork across your plate and everyone will know you are finished." I almost died! It was too hilarious.  I was super proud of him.

At breakfast we asked the boys to share what  were some bad manners at the table.  Here is what they said: 
No feet on the table (Lukas likes this rule in particular and reminds Henry frequently) 
No spinning your knife (Lukas said this - I guess he did listen yesterday!)
No shouting, No getting up from the table, No eating with your fingers. No elbows on the table.  Well, I guess they have been listening all along.  I was super excited.  So I am off to bed a happy mom.  Tomorrow - back to the table for more good manners.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Here is a list of a few basics which will get us started before we get into the more nit picky rules.
  1. If you know it is getting close to dinner time, wash up so that when you are called, you can be ready to come right away.  It is rude to keep people waiting.
  2. Go to the table as soon as you are called or the meal is announced for those of you out there who have private chefs or servants. 
  3. Make yourself easy to look at as Ms. Tina suggests.  Make sure you are clean and presentable.  Clean shirt, clean face and hands and brushed hair. 
  4. When you arrive at the table, do not start eating until all of the diners have arrived.
Thank goodness it is finally here.  I have been teaching them table manners since the beginning of time, but some just don't stick.  We have implemented a knife and fork rule.  Meaning that at each meal they are giving the tools with which to eat properly.  They are shown how to use these eating tools and we hope that they are used.  We constantly remind them to use them.  Tonight, Lukas was using his knife as a spinning wheel. He moved his plate over and flicked his knife.  If spun around and around. Henry noticed how cool it looked and shoved his plate out of the way and proceeded to flick his knife.  I grabbed Henry's before it hot over his milk but was too far away from Lukas'.  I told him that a knife is to be used to cut your food and not as a toy.  After 5 times of spinning his mean and me telling him to stop, he lost his knife privilege. Is it him missing out or really manners who are missing out, because now he can not cut his food or eat right. Oh well, I guess the novelty of having a knife will wear off and the games will subside.   Henry on the other hand is particular to eating with his fingers.  A normal meal consists of me saying, "Use your fork" and "NO fingers" at least 100 times.

I have to watch them like a hawk.  If I leave the table or let me thoughts wonder for even a minute, I regret it.  Tonight when I was day dreaming?? Not sure, I look over to my right and Lukas is standing next to Henry tossing food in Henry's open mouth.  I have no idea how this started as I was sitting right next to them! I say, "No, no, no boys.  No throwing food in Henry's mouth."  Lukas responds by saying, but he has to eat all of his food if he wants dessert."  Although I really liked his explanation for the need to throw food in his brothers mouth and the fact that he was being very helpful to his brother, I couldn't let it continue.  It is day one of table manner after all, and I am on a mission.

I usually get them to wash their hands before dinner, but combing their hair and changing their shirt? Who am I kidding.  And getting them to come to the table the first time I call, well I would probably faint.  But I explained to the rules and we will see how they do tomorrow at breakfast.

MANNER #4 - Know when and when not to introduce

1. When you take a friend to someone's house, always introduce them to the people you see there.
2. If you meet someone on the street and they stop long enough to chat, always introduce them to the people that are with you.
3. Any friend you bring home with you should be introduced to your family members.
4. You do not need to introduce people who meet very briefly such as people coming out of a store, or church or office if you and a friend are going in.
NEVER let a friend wait around while you chat on and on to someone they do not know.

Finally, we are on our last rule about introduction.  I am dying at the dinner table. Tonight Lukas announce that when he burped it meant he was full! I said, no, when you put your fork and knife on your plate that let's the other people at the table know that you are finished. 

I didn't really go over this one with the kids yet.  I will use it when we run into someone briefly and when we meet someone we know on the street.  So this one will be done in a practical life scenario. But I did use it myself when I brought a friend over to another friends house last week.  I did pretty well.  I even mentioned something about each person so that they have something to instantly talk about.  Two points for Mom?  I really should have had my boys introduce their girl friends who we brought with us.  Darn! Missed out on the perfect situation! I should have read this rule last week.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

MANNER #3 - What To Do When YOU Are Introduced

Before I start today, I just need to say that eating 3 meals a day with my kids has prompted me rethink a few things.  Introductions are important (and cute!), but what we really need help with immediately is TABLE MANNERS!  We need an emergency intervention at the table! So, after I finish this introduction chapter, we are switching to the chapter on table manners!!! Ms. Tina, please help me.

When you are introduced to someone:
  1. Smile, and say: "How do you do?" Now this is interesting, the book says do not say, "Pleased to meet you."  That is odd.  I need to research this further, is that a 1950's rule or should we use it today?  More to come on this.  For now, I will teach my kids, "How do you do?".  It also says, never say, "Hi," or "A pleasure, I am sure." (Too funny).   
  2. FOR BOYS:  If you are a boy meeting another boy or man, reach out your hand, look them in the eye, and shake their hand.  If you are a boy meeting a girl, wait for her to reach out her hand first, if she does, shake her hand.  If she does not, look her in the eyes and bow slightly as you say, "How do you do?".
  3.  FOR GIRLS: Smile pleasantly, look at the person you are meeting in the eyes and either hold out your hand to shake or make a small curtsy as you say, "How do you do?". Most girls these days do not curtsy anymore, however if you want to, you should do so, as it is not only considered polite but it is also charming.
  4. IMPORTANT: Never crush the persons hand you are shaking nor be too slight in the pressure.  Your hand shake is an important sign of who you are.  Be confident but not too aggressive, it will make the person you are meeting feel welcome and not overwhelmed or think that you are weak.
MOMS TAKE & EXECUTION ( Together for today)
Our 3 day weekend is almost over and I am thinking that maybe we learn rules during the week and then practice what we have learned during the weekend.  One a day is definitely hard.  Anyway, we are trying to keep up! Lukas was up for the manner lesson today, but my lil one ran away.  This does not bode well for one year of manner lessons.  Oh well, I proceeded with my one captive audience member.  Okay, this is how to shake someones hand. With some minor adjustments, he got it: too light, augh, too hard, look me in the eyes, say, "How do you do?," shake my hand...You get the point.  This is a very nit picky manner, but if I teach him how to do it right the first time, then he will learn the right way.  Right?  I ask myself as I begin to doubt my process.  Maybe I need to make it more fun?  Is this totally boring?  Back to the manner lesson....If I do not give you my hand, then you must bow, too low, keep looking at my eyes, just bow slightly, one arm in front, one in back, keep looking me in the eye.

Then as I offered to make some honey tea for us because it was a rainy day here, he says to me, "Mommy, let's see how we are suppose to drink tea in the book."   My heart jumped for joy. But I remained calm and did not show my surprise nor enthusiasm. "Great Idea," I replied evenly and went to get the book.  We sat down on the kitchen floor and thumbed to the table manners section.  Well wouldn't you know, there was not anything in there about how to drink tea.  So, I had to make it up.  I couldn't tell him that there were no rules.  Because Chaos theory was not something I was going to tackle today.  Somethings have rules, somethings do not.  I proceeded with my own set of drinking tea rules:  Never slurp tea or make noise when you drink, Girls sometimes lift a pinkie finger when they drink tea, but boys never do.   It sounded pretty good. Anyway, he bought it.  So, now I am thinking I need to go back to library and get Emily Posts book as a reference book for Ms. Tina's.  I will let you know if my made up manners on drinking tea come even close to the expert Miss Post.

So, I am sitting here writing my blog and from the other room, I hear my son call me, "Lora."  I am jarred away from my thoughts on writing.  I take a breath, and calmly answer, " I do not respond to that name."  "Please call me Mommy." He ran in and said,  "I didn't call you Lora, it was Far (that is what we call my husband, their dad, because he is from Denmark and that is the word for father in Danish).   He smiled at me, which is his tell that he is fibbing.  I grabbed him in my arms, looked at him with my crooked smile and raised eyebrows suggesting that I knew who said what and squeezed him.  He smiled and then ran away.  All politeness and manners aside.  I think children should call their parents Mother, mommy, dad, father, ect.  and not by their first names.  I am sure there is NOT even a chapter in my book about what to call your parent because it is just a given.  But, I will let you know as the journey continues and our knowledge of what is polite grows.  Enjoy Presidents Day!

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    MANNER #2 The Rules of Introductions

    THE MANNER - Rules to follow for introductions
    1. Boys are introduced to girls. Look at the girl and say her name first, "Mary this is Bill Smith - Mary Watson. 
    2. Introduce the younger person to the older person. Mention the name of the older person first, "Aunt Ivy, this is George Jones.  George, this is my aunt, Mrs. Butler."
    3. When introducing friends to your parents: 
      1. If they know your last name: "Mother this is George Jones. 
      2. If they do not know your last name or your mother has a different last name than you  "Mother, this is George Jones.  George this is my mother, Mrs. Butler.
    4. In an instant when an older man is being introduced to a girl over 16, introduce him to her - Mary this is my father. Dad, this is Mary Tanner.   If the girl is under 16, introduce the older person first, "Dad this is Mary Tanner."  
      Manner Rule #2 is pretty complicated to teach to young children.  I have simplified down to 4 rules but honestly, I am just going to simplify it further.  I will tell my children to introduce girls first and older people first.  I think that is all they can probably handle right now. 

      We practiced with my brother when he came to visit and my kids did stellar introducing me to my Uncle Josh! He was very impressed and asked what I did with my kids.  I guess it is working so far :)
      We also went into the next manner for tomorrow which is shaking hands and I started introducing bowing.  I practically melted to the floor when I saw Lukas bow and say, "nice to meet you" to my friend!  It was prompted by me, of course, but he still did it and then he looked over at me and felt so proud of himself! I winked at him, lifted a finger in the air and drew the number one in the air.  This is truly an amazing.  Everyone should try this.  Please try it, you'll be amazed.  Off to put the kidos to bed.  More Manners tomorrow ( I sang that sentence in my head like I am Mary Poppins or something) and now I am shaking my head at my self.  I can't get ahead of myself, we have 363 more days to go.

      Thursday, February 17, 2011

      MANNER #1 - Introductions, Take Your Time

      When you are introducing people take your time.  Pause to think about whom you are introducing.   Never rush through an introduction.

      This is a good one for me.  I always feel a need to rush.  I get totally tongue tied and sometimes the pressure is too much that I even forget some of my best friends names. That is quite awkward to say the least.   I too will work on this.  I will relax, take a breath and think about whom I am introducing to whom before I open my mouth.  I am going to have the kids do it after school today.  I figure it is best to make them feel comfortable and at ease with the first lesson so we will probably just do it ourselves. 

      So I was successful in introducing the concept to the boys.  Lukas got so excited about earning points that he said, "let's play it now."  He got up from the table (without saying excuse me - lesson #125) and started running around (walk, do not run in the house - lesson #87) looking for the "game." I explained to him that this was a game that we play in life everyday and when we follow the rules, we score points.  I then began with manner #1, take your time with introductions. What I instantly realized was that they had no idea what an introduction was.  I needed to step back explain to them that if you know 2 people but they do not know each other that it is your job to make them feel comfortable.  You do this by telling each of them the other persons name.  This helps both people feel at ease because you took the time to help them learn the other persons name and (we'll get to this part later) a little something they might have in common to talk to each other about.  We wound up practicing on ourselves, which my sons thought was hilarious.  It took us several times for them to do it without laughing, "Mommy this is Henry, Henry, Mommy. "   I then added look in the persons eyes who you are talking to and even went as far as teaching them about hand shaking! I definitely went too fast and surpassed my readings in the book.  We were just having so much fun!  Tomorrow I will review the rules on these manners and write them out for everyone to fully understand what is expected of you when you are doing an introduction.  But for now,  I peeked the kids interest.  So, Mom scored 1 point today too!

      Kids Today

      I am starting this blog in an effort to share helpful tips on how to teach your kids to be polite, thoughtful and well mannered.  I am excited about this adventure.  I can't tell you how many times I have had to say to my 2 boys in hopes that they would repeat it, "Please, may I have some milk?"  or "Thank you, Mommy."  My goodness, you would think that after saying that 5000 times that they would learn to say it themselves.  So, in an attempt to carve well rounded nice boys out of my (politely stated) "energetic" rough toddlers, I am going to teach them a new polite manner each day this year.  I will share the manner of the day and what dull or revolutionary experience it brought to our lives.  If you'd like to follow my probably insane attempt at training wild monkeys, please feel free to share your pioneering comments.  I am sure we will all tear our hair out, laugh, cry and hopefully not crumble along the way.  I have called this blog Hello Manners, because I believe that inside of each person there are manners just waiting to come out.  We, as parents, just need to guide our children, lead by example and teach them the rules to follows.  If we do this, then when our children's manners appear, we can say, "Oh, Hello Manners, there you are.  So glad you could join us today."  And in the end of this tortuous year, maybe just maybe, we will find ourselves as mothers of sweet little angels. 

      I will be enlisting the help from manners experts Tina Lee, who wrote a sweet book called "Manners to Grow On" published in 1955 by Double Day & Co. The chapters are broken down into different categories of interactions and skills. The first chapter is on introductions.  So, that is where we will begin.  But first I need to prepare my children for this journey.  I can say that I have decided to teach manners to them, but if they are not willing students, it will inevitably fail.  So, I will start by telling them we will be playing a game called manners.  There are rules to learn which help you play the game correctly.  When you learn the rule and use it, you score a point.  As my children practice these rules, just as in playing any game, they will get better at it and it eventually just becomes part of who they are.  (I hope, I hope).  Now, if they forget to use their manners that they have learned, I will encourage them not to be disappointed in themselves, for everyone makes mistakes.  And I will show them how to do the right way, and have them repeat their action with the corrected adjustment.  I will also be leading by example and being on my best behavior.  So, no talking with food in my mouth (a disgusting habit which I have perfected) and no leaving the table without excusing myself (as a mom can you imagine actually sitting down to a proper meal with your family without interruptions!).  Okay, I think that is it.  I am ready.  Opening my book to page 6.  Introductions.