6 Crazy-Making Things My Kids Do at the Dinner Table

boys playing cat

I bet there are children whose dinner table behavior is absolutely impeccable. Their manners are top-notch, they chew with their little rosebud mouths shut, they charmingly and politely contribute to the conversation. They probably even know which is the salad fork and which is the cheese fork and which is the bouillon spoon. My children do not belong to that category. 


We work on manners, but so far I'd probably describe the results as "Cro-Magnon-ish," except that might be a little insulting to cavemen. I'm always happy when our little foursome is able to sit down together for a family meal, but I can't lie -- there are things that drive me absolutely bonkers about eating with my kids.

For instance:

Loud chewing. We nag about this. Oh, do we nag. But there are still times when the kids sound like beavers industriously working their way through a 50-foot redwood tree. Or a scourge of locusts devouring the Earth's crops. Smack smack smack. And that's not even taking into account the MILK GLURPING. Who drinks milk like they're attempting the spring break six-quart beer bong challenge? MY CHILDREN.

Precious chair-sitting. My older son is particularly prone to this offense: he likes to sit on his knees with his feet poking through the back of the chair. And no, it's not that he's not tall enough for the table, he just prefers to sit that way. This wouldn't be so bad if his weight didn't offset the balance of the chair and occasionally send him crashing over backwards with a startled yelp. You'd think he'd learn, right? WRONG.

Speed-bolting their food. Okay, it's not like I spend hours slaving over a hot stove for my kids' meals, but I do put some effort into it. Why does everyone have to consume their food as though they're in the midst of a Guinness-level competitive eating contest? Frankly, my husband's guilty of this one too. I feel like I spend all this time getting food on the table, then everyone descends like starving wolves, and .005 seconds later it's time to do the dishes.

Disappearing from the table. My 5-year-old has the habit of just ... ghosting away from the table, mid-chew. We've repeatedly reminded him that he needs to ask to be excused, but he only remembers about half the time. It's almost eerie, actually. One second he's there, the next the chair is mysteriously empty.

Interrupting. Oh my god with the interrupting. I feel like our family dinner conversation sounds like a skipping record that's attempting to play audio of a group of coked-up cattle auctioneers. "So what did you --" "DAD CHECK THIS --" "Hey, he was --" "Anyway so I --" "DAD THIS MORNING I --" "Do cats have a --" "Guys I can't -- " "Can everyone please --" "MOM THIS TASTES --" "GUYS!"

The mess. Yeah, the mess. At 7 and 5, my kids aren't quite as bad as they were as toddlers, but still. STILL. They don't eat over their plates, for crying out loud. I understand there are distractions and life isn't meant to be squeaky-clean at all times and family dinners -- at least at our house -- aren't formal affairs by any means, but for god's sake, boys. If crumbs are going to fall from your mouth in a continuous rain of floor-littering detritus, AIM YOUR FOOD-HOLE OVER YOUR DAMN PLATE.

Whew! That felt good. Okay, your turn -- what are your pet peeves about kids at the dinner table?

Image via Linda Sharps

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