One night last month I looked across the dinner table at my 11-year-old daughter and sighed. She was slumped in her chair with both elbows on the table, and she clearly hadn’t gotten the “don’t talk with your mouth full” memo. I warned her that poor table manners could put a serious damper on her dating prospects, but she just shrugged and told me (with her mouth full of food) that boys are gross anyway. As I glanced to my right and left, I realized my other two daughters weren’t faring much better in the manners department. Where did I go so wrong? I tried to recall if my parents bugged me about my table manners. I remember my mom enrolled me in an after-school club in elementary school called “Silver Spoons” that taught kids how to answer the phone politely (so quaint!), set the table and not completely mortify their parents at a restaurant. The most exciting part was when the local paper came to do a story on the class, and yours truly was on the front page! After the class ended I forgot everything we learned, and my mom told everyone within earshot that it was a complete waste of money. Sigh.
Things are looking up, however, since I panic-ordered this book. It’s spiral bound with a built-in easel stand, so I propped it on the kitchen counter and let the author do the talking. (Sometimes my kids listen better when I don’t say a word, if that makes sense.) Every few days, I flip to a new page. I originally bought it to up our table manners game, but the author takes it a step further by sharing tips on how to be a kind, considerate human. There are some great nuggets that tweens and teens (and certain adults!) need to hear on repeat, like “Don’t leave just one person out,” “Acknowledge adults,” “Plan your life so you can be punctual,” “Take ownership of your mistakes,” and “Nothing online is private.” My kids occasionally roll their eyes at the book’s tips, but last night my 11-year-old ate dinner with her elbows OFF the table, so there’s that.
Living the dream,