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Friday, June 24, 2016

Robots aren't concerned with table manners

Friday, October 12, 2012

I can't help but notice the growth spurt Declan is experiencing, mind you it is a first grade growth spurt and nothing I would think that is out of the norm, but it seems like every week another pair of his pants is suddenly too short to wear. His resistance to traditional manners at the dinner table seems to be growing at the same pace, unfortunately.

Earlier this week I was having a very familiar round of back and forth jawing with him over the placement of his elbows on the dinner table. To be honest, it is always a difficult conversation for me to maintain control of, there isn't an on-point answer I have found to give my first-grader when he says, "Why not?"

Even a brief Internet search after the first such encounter only uncovered references to the origins of the etiquette having to do with crowded, formal dining tables and the risk of knocking over drinks or crowding your dinner-table neighbors. That response only prompted more questions from Declan.

"What is formal dining?"

"Did the ancient people have dining tables as big as our house?"

"Why don't I have a brother to eat dinner with? If I did then he could sit right next to me and I would keep my elbows off the table," cue the batting eyelashes.

After that experience I attempted to take a simpler path this week and just repeated that it was bad manners and he didn't want people to think he had bad manners.

Declan grumbled to himself mildly, after realizing I wasn't going to stop pestering him as long as his elbows remained on the table. "I will eat with my elbows on the table when I'm older," he said defiantly, "I will only have robots around me and they won't care."

He took a bite of the breakfast burrito I had made him, "This taste horrible, stupid eggs. They make me sick. Always make me feel sick," he growled as he took another bite, this one I noticed was bigger than the first bite and his elbows remained off the table.

I knew that wouldn't be the end of it, but I tried to enjoy the moment. I had to smile at the thought of an elder Declan cheerfully sitting at a dining table, bowl of Life cereal in front of him, surrounded by robots.

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Bruce Baker
Dinner with Declan