Friday, February 26, 2010

It's All in the Training

The other night my son had a friend stay for dinner. Easy dinner. Scrambled eggs and the last can of nasty canned biscuits. (Wanna know how I really feel about canned biscuits? Read about it here.) Anyway, the kids sat down. Fed them. Asked the guest kiddo if he'd like milk or juice. He asked for milk. Gave the guest kiddo his dinner and a glass of milk. Asked him if he could butter his own biscuit. He assured me he could.

Now, I'm not a wasteful woman. I'm not. My parents did some serious frugal training with me when I was a kid. It stuck. I'm not the chick who leaves lights on when she leaves the room or wastes food or throws away a good jar that could be washed and used to store bulk raisins. I'm the fanatic who follows my energy-inefficient husband around, turning off lights, closing the fridge door, turning off the faucet while he's brushing. I can't help it. It's deeply ingrained. There. Now you know.

But I tell you what, that kid massacred the butter. I don't know if he's just never been allowed to spread his own butter before or what, but seriously? What 7 year-old doesn't know how to cut a pat a butter from the butter dish and spread it on his biscuit? When they left the table, that half stick of butter looked like it had been through a grinder. Or been fatally maimed by butter knife-wielding 7 year-old. And he didn't touch his full glass of milk. A full glass. And it's not like he's my kid and I can put that full glass of perfectly good milk back in the fridge until the next meal. Oh, no. Down the drain.

Lucky for my verbal self-control (or lack thereof), by the time I realized what had happened, he and my kids were off enjoying some imaginative adventure that involved running and screaming around the house.

I took a deep breath and decided a couple of things. First, chances are good he doesn't get much practice doing for himself at home. His sweet (and she is very, very sweet) mom probably butters his toast before setting it on the table. Second, eating in a different house can throw a kid and he may very well not really know how to handle himself, yet - he really is only 7. Finally, third, this is why we let our kids eat over at other people's houses - to train and be trained. This is the time to foul up, because it's curtains if he does it on date twenty years from now.

And really, what this tells me is I need to work on my kids' manners because soon enough they'll be eating at their friends' houses and heaven help the nerves of their friends' moms when my kids mutilate the butter and waste perfectly good milk.

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