10 Table Manners I Expect From All Children

If there's anything I hate more than entertaining children for playdates, it's feeding them. I mean, do the neighborhood children have an alert set up for the moment I come home from the grocery store with unopened snacks? Because it sure seems that way.

But a box of crackers is nothing compared to feeding other people's children a sit-down dinner. I have to feed my own kids, and I expect decent manners from them, but if I'm feeding someone else's kid, I demand good manners, dammit. Don't follow the below, sweetheart, and you aren't coming back ...


1. Wash your hands. I do not know what you have rubbed, scratched, poked, fondled, wiped, or otherwise touched with your grubby little fingers. So you little monsters sure as hell better soap them up before grazing even one molecule of the kitchen with them.

2. Hands only on the table. I watched you scrub your hands, which means they are the only parts of your body allowed to touch the table. No feet. No forearms. No elbows. No pounding fists. No foreheads, unless you spilled your milk again and it’s me banging my head against the table. (Anyway, my hair is clean. Most days.) 

3. Speak the required phrases. These are: Please and No Thank You. There will be no demands made of anyone unless it is preceded by the word please, as in “Please pass the salt; this chicken tastes like feet,” or “Please do not make me eat one more bite of this detestable casserole.” I am much less likely to pelt my children with steamed broccoli florets if they say, “No thank you, I have had my fill of that repulsive meat” than if they just make gagging noises.

4. Chew with your mouth closed. Cooking sucks enough already. I’ve already spent way too much time looking at these ingredients. An extra 15 seconds of staring at them as you pre-digest them in your mouth? No thanks.

5. Talk between bites. I’m glad you want to tell me about your day, honey, but let’s wait until you have swallowed the noodles, 'kay? I already had to cook your meal. I don’t want to wipe your meal off my face. As the great Benjamin Franklin—or someone—once said, “Say it, don’t spray it.”

6. Use utensils. I’m not a stickler on this one all the time, but at some point kids ought to know that, one, forks and spoons exist and, two, are not shovels. Knives are not props for sword-fighting. Mashed potatoes are not to be eaten facedown like a dog. Am I asking too much?

7. Wait to eat. Mealtimes are crazy. Sometimes I’ve spent 30 minutes making a dinner that takes about 3 minutes to eat. By the time I get everything to the table and actually sit down, the rest of the family can have gobbled up their meal and disappeared. So you know what? Let’s wait until everyone’s ready before we eat. Otherwise, Mommy might miss the first three of your 37 fart jokes.

8. Stay seated. If you have to sit for a whole math class at school, you can sit for longer than the five minutes it takes you to hide your peas under your rice and complain about the salad. So no leaving until you’ve asked to be excused. I’ll excuse you as soon as I’m good and ready, by which I mean when my ears have started bleeding from your whining.

9. No gross noises. Yes, I love how you’re able to make bathroom sounds by zerberting your arm. Yes, the first six times you did it were pretty hilarious. But from now on, no more farting burping smacking grunting slurping gagging at the table. Unless I’m doing it.

10. Say “thank you.” Even if you didn’t like the food and even if Mommy’s dictatorial rules kept you from tearing apart your chicken like a Rottweiler. A sincere “thank you” to the chef goes a long, long way toward making me not want to poke you with my fork.


Image via Scary Mommy

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