It has happened again — another blob of spaghetti stuck to the kitchen wall. Same location-in the corner next to the highchair. Same suspect-round face, great smile, chubby legs, chubby cheeks, 18 months old.
The abstract art on the wall escaped notice for the better part of a week and fossilized. We should probably put a frame around it and title it “Family Dinners.”
The real puzzle is how it stuck and that a mound that size did not fall to the floor. Gravity has failed us.
We had a book when our kids where young titled, “Teaching Children Manners in 10 Minutes.” It overestimated their attention span by nine minutes.
Now, with nearly a dozen grandkids often around the table, we are taking a second run at teaching manners, periodically reviewing basic rules of courtesy so that mealtime is not a three-ring circus.
For starters, no clowns in little cars circling the table and no trying to lift a cousin in a kitchen chair over your head.
Furthermore, all the interesting things you found outside stay in your pockets. That goes double if the interesting things in your pockets are still alive.
Please remember that the small lighted candles in the center of the table are not so much for ambiance, but to discourage you form lunging across the table for food you want.
When eyeing the last portion of something on a serving plate, ask if anyone else would like it. No sulking when someone says yes and offers to share it with you.
Please laugh at the little kids’ knock-knock jokes, even if you heard them before, and don’t blurt out the punchline.
Note that only the babies eat with their hands, everybody else uses a fork. The same goes for rubbing food in your hair. Babies only.
If you don’t like it, don’t say you “hate it” — it is “not one of your favorites.”
Try one bite. Please. Thank you.
No yelling, screaming, shouting or name calling at the table. This is mealtime, not a political rally.
Don’t forget you earn extra points for saying, “Grandma is a good cook,” and taking your dirty dishes to the sink without being told.
Naturally, to encourage thoughtfulness, we practice thoughtfulness. We don’t buy orange juice with pulp — or “hairs” as they say — and we don’t give them sandwiches on bread that “crunches” (12-grain).
We make sure there is always chocolate syrup to go in the milk and promise Grandma will make cinnamon rolls for the morning when they stay overnight.
A small brood was here recently when I hopped up from the table to retrieve a dish by the stove. When I returned the kids were sitting quietly and one said, “Did you notice, Grandma?”
“We waited until you sat down and took a bite before any of us took a bite. You told us it’s polite to wait for the hostess to take the first bite.”
Ice cream for everyone!
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.