Chris tends to be more bothered about table manners than I am. I generally go with the role model good behaviour and ignore the unwanted behaviour, unless it’s really awful. Of course, the latter is a problem because people have different definitions of what is really awful.
At the moment, we’re both fairly consistent on wanting Rosemary to stay at the table during dinner. Because of the role-modelling thing, I get annoyed if Chris gets up from the table when he’s finished, even if he is getting up to load the dishwasher, wash up, feed the dog and so on. If I drew a graph, I believe there would be a direct correlation between Rosemary getting down from the table before she’s finished and Chris getting down from the table before she’s finished.
We are not insistent on Rosemary cleaning her plate. We are insistent on her trying everything and eating a reasonable quantity of the different food stuffs – otherwise no pudding. There’s often a deal of ‘Two more spoonfuls or this and one more spoonful of that, otherwise no ice cream.’ And we’re fairly consistent in this.
But there are other things that don’t bother me and that I think she’ll grow out of gradually, with the right role-modelling. Putting food into her drink, for example. It’s science. It’s cookery experimentation. It’s exploration of different tastes and textures. Just because the idea of mashed potato and orange juice is pretty disgusting to us, doesn’t mean she shouldn’t get to try it for herself. I’m less enamoured with the other way round, because then it means I can’t finish off what she hasn’t eaten, but again I think it’s an exploratory process that needs to be gone through.
Making faces with food in your mouth. Well, it’s not very pleasant, and I’m happy to say ‘Ew, I don’t want to see that.’ but that’s about as far as I’ll go. Whereas Chris has been known to make a big fuss of it.
One of the things that Chris is insistent on, I have fallen in with, but it doesn’t really bother me. When she dislikes something, her inclination is to put it off her plate (which I think is understandable, though obviously a bit messy), whereas Chris wants her to put it aside on the plate. We present a united front here, but if it were up to me I would not be bothered about it at the moment.
Anyway, I think both of us quite differing views about the table manners and when to and not to make a fuss. Thinking back, when I was a child, we generally ate our dinner on our laps while watching Crossroads, so I’m guessing my parents weren’t too fussed about table manners. We just sat down properly when we had guests and for Sunday lunch. Though I don’t remember how it was when I was Rosemary’s age. Pretty sure we didn’t have a TV then, but I don’t really have any recollections of dinner times.
I think we both compromise somewhat to meet in the middle, which is a good way to do it, when your views differ. (I'm sure Chris would tell you that I’m guilty of assuming I know best about all child-rearing issues and tend to forget to discuss them with him, instead expecting him to fall into line with what I think. So, hopefully this is one area where I’m not doing so.) And Rosemary’s generally pretty well-behaved at the dinner, in my opinion, though she does have her moments. If I plotted them on a graph, I think they might coincide with Chris and I having conversations that don’t include her.
What about you? Is three too early to be worrying about table manners? Or too late? If you have another half, do your views coincide with theirs or do you both compromise? Does one of you have the upper hand and the other have to bow down? Do you even notice table manners, or is it something that doesn’t bother you at all?