The Battle for Dining Etiquette

February 16, 2012

in Parenting

It is unclear to me why I am trying to get an eight-year-old boy to put a cloth napkin in his lap each night, but I am. It sits under his knife, on the table, where he thinks it belongs. During this nightly struggle, there is always a question posed:

Me: “When is that napkin going to be placed in your lap?”

Last night’s response: “When I get a pony.”

And then there was this one recently: “When I have my own unicorn.”

Last night, Monkey made progress in his cause; he decided to use eight-year-old logic in his cloth napkin-placing (and using) aversion.

“Mom, it’s the same as asking me to wear a tie to school; it’s just not necessary.”

Bursting into laughter didn’t help to maintain my position, but I could not help myself. The kid is funny.

This isn’t defeat; it’s simply a temporary setback.

It’s a new day.

Let the battle commence.


Eric February 16, 2012 at 11:11 am

Aw, c’mon, Mom! Give the kid a unicorn already! Sheesh!
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Naked Girl in a Dress February 16, 2012 at 11:38 am

I know; I am a terrible parent. But I seriously doubt he would use the napkin even if I gave him a unicorn. There were so many promises to help with the dog and I am doing most of the work with Lucky. Then I would be stuck caring for a dog and a unicorn. My guess? The boy would still not use a napkin.

Parenting is tough.

Chrysta Bairre February 16, 2012 at 11:36 am

He sounds brilliantly spirited and witty! How fortunate you are to have an intelligent and amusing son. :)
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Naked Girl in a Dress February 16, 2012 at 11:46 am

His negotiation skills at eight are frightening. Or brilliant. It depends on your perspective.

kim February 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm

That’s the best thing about kids–they keep you on your toes.
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Naked Girl in a Dress February 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Yes, and make laugh daily!

Brett Minor February 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I was never a napkin in the lap person, but was vigilant to get the kids to keep their elbows off the table. Unfortunately, they think like me. If I can’t understand the reason then it is difficult to abide by the rule.

“It’s considered bad manners.”

“Why? It’s an elbow.”

“I know, but some people will think it is rude.”


“Because it is bad manners.”

“Says who?”

“Just move your elbows and you have butter in your hair.”
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Naked Girl in a Dress February 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm

So happy to learn I have another parent out there struggling with this issue! This made me laugh. I love your comment!

WowThatWasAwkward February 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm

This is an ongoing battle in my house. I still can’t believe it when I’m talking to my boys and one of them takes a bite and then does a massive arm swoosh to wipe their face with their sleeve. I could care less if the napkin goes on their lap. I just want them to use the damn thing on their face. Introducing them to the napkin every night doesn’t seem to help a bit. “Will and Drew, I’d like you to meet the napkin. You use it on your messy face. Napkin, meet Will and Drew” and then I smear napkin on said faces. No impact.
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Naked Girl in a Dress February 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm

It is crazy, seriously, that such a simple thing is lost on these kids. I will continue to fight this battle. Let me know if anything works for you! I could use an idea or two.

Brook L. Dame February 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm

This brings back memories of my Mom sitting us at the table. She told us, in no uncertain terms, we are not allowed to behave as anything other than “proper ladies and gentlemen” at the table — whether at home or in public. Her very own ‘Miss Manners School’. :-)
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Naked Girl in a Dress February 17, 2012 at 9:06 am

Your mother should have written a book on the subject. It would be a best seller today.

Brook L. Dame February 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I’ll pass that suggestion on!
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Vinny C February 17, 2012 at 3:49 am

I’ve been warning my wife to be prepared for a lot of this. Growing up, she always said she was never the “accept what I don’t understand” type & neither was I. They will be sure to inherit it.
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Naked Girl in a Dress February 17, 2012 at 9:05 am

Genetically speaking, you and your wife are a bad match. You. Are. Screwed.

The good news is it will make for great blogging. I will sit back and laugh when you go through this.

Nathan February 17, 2012 at 4:58 am

You know kids. They will always come up with the most outrageous reasons on why you cannot make them do or don’t do something.
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Naked Girl in a Dress February 17, 2012 at 9:03 am

Agreed. I love when the reasons make me laugh. Some make me grind my teeth, which isn’t as much fun.

Amy February 17, 2012 at 8:15 am

Coincidentally, “when I have my own unicorn” is what Angelina Jolie answered when people asked her when she was going to marry Brad Pitt. But you know she’ll actually get one.
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Naked Girl in a Dress February 17, 2012 at 8:47 am

So unfair. I hope my son doesn’t learn about Angelina’s unicorn. He will probably want her to adopt him.

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