Ode to Etiquette

My youngest daughter had two friends over for supper recently. Let’s refer to them as Harry and Henrietta for posting purposes.  Both have eaten at our house numerous times before. More often than not, the kids  eat outside on the grass or sit on the basement floor. However, since it was a little bit more formal this time around, they sat at the kitchen table. My wife and I ate elsewhere; close enough to listen, but not contribute to their conversation, of course. First, I should qualify ‘formal’.  Remember, it’s me.  I am the least formal person around.  Though, I do clean up quite nicely. Secondly, I made a beef vegetable soup that warranted the appropriate seating.

The dinner progressed nicely. Well, until my daughter started to … eat, that is.  Let’s just say she has quite the causal flare when dining. Translation: table manners are generally non-existent.   In her defense, soup isn’t the easiest to eat. And, the croutons on the salad… .  Yeah, neither are those.

She’s fifteen. It’s all good.  Besides, I AM her father.  That genetic misfortune is all me, baby. You can always figure out were either of us sat during a meal. There’s like a buffet of crumbs scattered about our chairs and surrounding floor.

As far as her friends are concerned, Henrietta is quiet and adequately mannered.  Harry, on the other hand, dines as if he went to finishing school.  He is a very proper, nice young man.  It’s rather refreshing, especially  considering today’s teen mindset.  When my daughter dropped yet another crouton in her lap, Harry chided her … technique.  Friendly banter developed.  Moments later, my daughter marched out of the room and returned with a book about etiquette written by the Emily Post.  This is a the same book that inspired Faux Pas back in November 2013, by the way.  The banter quieted. Temporarily. Then, Harry asked my daughter if she had actually read the book. (pauses emphasized) She, of course, had not, stating the genre was of no interest. (sarcasm implied) You go, gorl! Then something peculiar happened. Instead of welcoming additional banter, she politely asked Harry for a few pointers. (Side note: Croutons really are a pain the ass to eat.)

Later that evening, my daughter and I drove our ‘dinner’ guests home.  I looked for an opportunity to apologize to Harry for my daughter’s oversights. Honestly, it would be my parenting that was primarily at fault. No such opportunity presented itself.  After I thought about it, I was content.  I didn’t feel the need to apologize.  My daughter is a good kid who will grow into an exceptional adult.  Her blatant disregard for table manners is probably more of a conscious decision than anything. She’s fifteen. Soon it will no longer be ‘fun’ or ‘rebellious’ or whatever the reasoning.  Yes, she will still have her moments.  She is MY daughter.  Once again, I’m content. In the scope of parenting, there are much worse things to worry about.

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