Manners, Motivation and Monkey-Toes

December 25, 2008 stephhwilliams 0 Comments

Pepa arrived tonight and we went out to dinner (I didn’t want to cook tonight since I’ll be doing quite a bit tomorrow {woohoo, Christmas dinner}, and today’s Pepa’s birthday!). During dinner, the following transpired:

Boy Genius to The Girl: “Why did you just change the discussion?”
The Girl: “I didn’t.”
Boy Genius: “Yes, you did. We were talking about manners.”
The Girl: “No, there was a pause in the conversation like we were done, so I started a new one.”
Me: [not-so-silently, stifling a giggle.]
Bryan: “Now, if anyone overheard this, ‘why did you change the discussion…there was a pause in the conversation…so I started a new one,’ they’d never believe it was between a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old, would they?”
Pepa: [smiling and shaking his head for an inaudible “no.”]
Me: “Oh, don’t let me forget this!”
Pepa: “Ahhhh, blog material?”

You see, a few minutes before this, we had, indeed, been discussing manners. The Girl, who prides herself quite often in pretending to be a little princess, has semi-poor table manners on a good day. Occasionally, I tell her that I’m going to send her to etiquette school; completely beyond my control, it always sounds like a threat, along the lines of being sent to boarding or military school. She fidgets, stands next to or leans on her chair, eats with her fingers even when it’s not finger food, talks with food in her mouth, spills drinks and drops utensils and has been known to make a bigger mess than the 18-month-old in the house. Now, some of this can be attributed to clumsiness or silliness or just being a kid, but my point is almost always that Boy Genius, who is younger and has cornered the market on silliness in this house, never has an issue at the dinner table. Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that the boy’s been easily motivated by food since birth. Nevertheless, tonight at dinner, Bryan, Pepa and I had been observing Boy Genius’ mad skills at the dinner table — sitting straight and tall with his napkin draped across his lap, chewing with his mouth shut, and eating rice with his fork and, dare I say, not dropping a morsel. These observations were juxtaposed against those of The Girl — talking while her fingers were still in her mouth from the last bite of rice she put there, remnants of which stuck unceremoniously around her lips, biting and squeezing her straw until sprite flickered across the table, and kicking her shoes off her feet to then slide down in her chair to monkey-toe them under the table. So, she did what any self-respecting princess would do, as nonchalantly as possible, she changed the subject. Much to her dismay, though, Boy Genius called her out. Kicking her subtlety too far out of the park to be monkey-toed back, he called her out. Lucky for her, however, the grown-ups got too sidetracked by the kids’ mad vocab to even notice. It wasn’t until we were driving home that it occurred to me that Boy Genius hit the nail on the head about her motivation for changing the subject. It’s a good thing that nothing, whether it’s chicken wings and fried rice or The Girl’s attempt at subtle manipulation, gets past him.

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