20 April 2011

Mind your manners

Even grading on a curve taking into account age and my undying affection, Sacha is disgusting. His table manners are atrocious. It’s not entirely his fault, because he has significant fine motor delays which make it difficult to use utensils well. Meals end with him saucy and greasy, and although he has a napkin in his lap, because he cannot sit still, it often winds up on the floor. I don’t dress him for school until after he eats breakfast, because I’d just have to change his clothes.

Before dinner I do some mental calculus in order to decide whether I want to strip him for the meal and give him a bath afterward, thus giving him the impression that it is okay to eat in your underwear, or keep him dressed and risk ruining more clothes.

If we’ve sat down to dinner before David gets home from work, he has to do evasive footwork to avoid getting his suit soiled when Sacha runs to greet him. I live in fear of him leaving the table before I clean his hands, because he often runs straight towards our lovely, pale, celery colored couch.

And so I was surprised to hear him say recently that he has very good table manners. All this endless praising of kids to build their self-esteem is bullshit; I prefer a reality based approach. So I went Tiger Mother on him and told him no, kid, your table manners suck.  

Equally disgusting is his air hankie habit; I am always chasing him around with tissues. Among other things, this habit contributed to him getting kicked out of his first pre-school, when he was two, because they found it too ALARMING. Now that he is old enough to know better, he does it in equal part out of habit, comic effect, and rebelliousness, seeing as his poor fine motor control renders him unable to flip me the bird.

Last week as we were driving to school I heard him snorting and reached reached back to hand him my handkerchief. When we got on the car line I turned around to help him unbuckle, and scan him for a snot mustache. His face was clean, so I complemented him on doing a good job wiping his nose. In response, he opened his mouth, and smiling, presented me a with fat lugie melting on his tongue like a communion wafer. It was repulsive, yet funny, and executed with perfect comic timing. I found it nearly impossible to maintain STERN MOMMY PERSONA and scold him, and left me wondering if this is how John Belushi and the Farrelly brothers got their start.

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