Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Am I a Manners Nazi?

I tried not to get my undies in a bunch. I tried not to eavesdrop, I swear.

In my defense, H was at the bathroom with T.D. and the restaurant was so quiet it was hard not to hear the conversation going on at the next table.

Mother: "Put that game-boy (or whatever piece of electronic gaming device the kid had in hand) down! The dinner table is not the place and you've been on it for about five hours today! Give it to me! Now!"

Kids meekly hands over gaming device.

Father: Rolls eyes. "Why can't he have it? He's not bothering anyone."

Mother: Exasperated sigh. "Why?! Because the dinner table or a restaurant is not the place for these things. We were not allowed to do this type of stuff when we were kids."

Father: "We didn't have toys like this and electronics when we were kids! We had coloring books and regular books..."

At this point, H came back to the table and I grinned at him. Ah, blog fodder...

There are two points in this conversation that stand out to me. The first one being that this conversation should not even be occurring in front of the kid. It should have been conducted earlier between the parents alone, working out their opinions on the matter or just continued later without the child present. Kids don't need to see that sort of differing of opinion on discipline issues. Then they know how to divide and conquer. It happens, yes, but that was my first thought.

Second, reading, playing games of the electronic type or other such things is a no-no at the dinner table at home and out. At least it was when I was a kid. Sure, we let T.D. color her place mat but she's 2 and when food arrives we take the stuff away. However, this kid was about ten. Old enough to hold a conversation and sit still without entertainment. Not to be all old and curmudgeonly but back in my day, that was not allowed. The issue of books vs. electronic toys which were not always available is a moot point. Reading at the table was considered rude to the other people at the table. You contributed to the conversation and if you didn't have anything to add then you simply sat and listened. Or stared at a wall. Heaven forbid you stare at other restaurant patrons or try to slink beneath the table.

Am I just a manner Nazi here or do I have a point? Does this stuff even matter anymore? You tell me.


  1. Yes, the parents should have set the ground rules before going out.

    Yes, the toys and coloring books have no place during meals --- especially meals in restaurants.

    Meals out should be a special occasion to enjoy each other's company and good food where no one is distracted by having to cook, serve, and clean up after.

    Meals out are special.

  2. I think you have valid points. The parents should have discussed it sooner, and manners are falling by the wayside-- to the detriment of society, IMO. There is nothing wrong with being polite and courteous, and family dinner time is a great time to reconnect with the busy lives. The child will not always be able to hide behind a video game and would be well served to learn to carry a conversation with adults and other people (age appropriate, of course).

  3. Anonymous11:41 AM

    Amen, Sista!

  4. I'm with you, on both counts. We saw an older couple at a restaurant one night...both were reading books!!! I told Wayne..."Let's not EVER be them!!". My teenage daughter also tried to tote a book in with us one night...I got on to her and told her how rude that was. She thought I was being uptight. Oh well. It IS rude!

  5. I completely agree the parents should have not had that converstation in front of the child. I also completely agree that the toys, no matter what they are have no place at the dinner table (out or in). Yes you can amuse a small child prefood but I agree about removing them during dinner.

    I was raised much like you, no toys at the table, listen and/or participate in the converstation and (here's a big one) when at home, when I was done with my dinner wait patiently until everyone else was done and then ask to be excused from the table.

    Another dinner out pet peeve I have: going to a theme restaurant like a Mexican restaurant or a Seafood house and allowing the child to order chicken fingers or mac n'cheese. The themed restuarant visit was a treat to have the theme food, not something I can get at home Mon-Sun.

  6. marie g1:40 PM

    totally 100% agree!

  7. I agree with you. Meals out are a time for family, not isolating yourself with some form of entertainment. We let the girls color while waiting on food, but it goes away when the food arrives.

    Although at home I confess we're pretty lazy with meal time. It drives me crazy that my husband grabs a book and reads while we eat at home.


Thanks for commenting! It's always good to hear from a reader and not say, a robot.