Monday, June 7, 2010

Manners Anyone?

We had a lovely lesson in Manners this past Saturday. Deonne and I decided to throw the 'to do' list out the window and opted to spend the day with the kids - getting them out of the house for a fun treat. So what if the house looks like it's been napalmed inside - or the outside looks like a meadow of weeds.... right?

We settled on the Marionette Theatre's production of "Puss 'n Boots." The kids adore the puppet theatre, and were excited to go (we hadn't been since Anna's birthday party last fall.) I love it because it's 1) entertaining, 2) cheap (as in $4 per ticket), and 3) inside - it's getting hot here - and you all know by now that I.don'

The show ended just shy of noon - perfect timing to get a bite to eat. Now, there are a few restaurants in Columbia that we always to go with the kids - family friendly places where it's not unusual for drinks to be spilled, crayons to be broken and tossed across the table, or a ring of crumbs left around each kids' respective chair.

But on Saturday, Deonne and I wanted to go somewhere different - something not the usual norm for our Party of Five.

We drove up through the Vista, and pulled into a parking spot right in front of Blue Marlin. This is a fancy schmancy place D and I used to go to all the time - back before we had children. It was a favorite place of mine for one dish in particular - the fried green tomato salad with goat cheese.

We took a deep breath, turned around to the kids (who were bickering about something mundane in the back of the van) and gave them a brief lesson on manners.

Sit in your chair.

Place your napkin in your lap.

No screaming.

No fighting.

If you have to go potty, ask politely to go.

Thankfully, Anna's class had recently participated in a field trip to another nice restaurant within walking distance of their school - where they had a fancy lunch. She had practiced the art of using her napkin, blotting the corners of her mouth, and minding her p's and q's.

We tempted fate. Unbuckled the kids. And requested a table outside.

Oh my.

What a wonderful meal.

I don't know if it was because Anna happily obliged to act like a little lady - but James followed suit - wanting to put his napkin in his lap, and mimic his big sister. They quietly colored their fishy coloring pages as they waited for their meals (which they actually both chose the pasta dish of the children's menu - a big step for my chicken finger/french fry eatin' crowd.) They sipped their lemonade - and there wasn't a spilled cup in sight.

Jack crashed out towards the end of the puppet show - and somehow managed to sleep through being buckled into his seat - and back out - and through half of our lunch.

James was such a good boy - I was so proud of him. I think it helped matters tremendously that we were seated outside (the building is the historic train depot in Columbia - think long covered sidewalk) and we gave him free rein to run back and forth between two landmarks once his meal was completed.
The best part for James - he did not have to be reminded one time to eat his lunch - he actually sat on his bottom (or his knees when he couldn't quite reach the plate) and properly used his fork to eat with - not wave around like a wand.

Anna contentedly colored - a lot - her favorite thing to do. And when her meal came, she didn't scream or cry that she hadn't finished yet - she handed over her page and crayons and said 'that's okay, I'll finish up after I've eaten lunch."

And she loved practicing her manners, asking me a few times if she was 'doing a good job' by keeping her napkin in her lap and wiping her mouth after she took a few bites.

All in all, a lovely lunch. I actually have hope for the Party - that our dining out experiences won't be limited to places that scream "Welcome to Moes" when we walk in the door.

And the lesson in manners went so well, and they seemed so interested in behaving well, that I'm eagerly anticipating when I can get them in some real manners classes. I've heard rumblings that a local church 'round here has a manners summer camp - geared for little ones like mine. If any of you know any of the details - lemme know - I'm ready to sign up the older two Long kiddies!

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