Mr. Manners

Out of work for six months now, and my nest seemingly emptier than ever, I’ve had the chance to reflect on raising my children and how fast the time passed.  I was a follower of Dr. Spock, firmly believing that children needed discipline to make them feel secure.  They needed to hear the word “no,” to understand that somebody cared enough to set limits for them and teach them to set limits for themselves.

 Yes, we let them cry themselves to sleep to learn that bedtime was bedtime.  Yes, we made them taste everything that was served to them (not necessarily cleaning their plates).  Yes, we punished them when they did wrong.  No, we did not shower them with either idle threats or expensive gifts.  No, we did not let them “find themselves” at age three.  No, we did not let them get up from the table until everyone was finished eating.  

 In so doing, we did get a lot of compliments on the behavior of our children over the years, but it didn’t start out so smoothly.  They were polite and well-behaved.  Or so we thought…We could take them anywhere.  If they acted up or cried, we simply removed them from the restaurant or movie theater so they would not disturb other patrons. 

 One particular evening, we were dining at a family style restaurant which allowed  children.  My husband and I were appalled to see dozens of children running around screaming and crying, with what seemed to be no supervision.  We looked at each other and nodded in agreement that our son, age two, was, indeed well behaved, only to find him leaning over his plate of macaroni and cheese, and eating it like a dog.

 He hasn’t done that since.  It is, however, twenty-three years later.