“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Lesson in Manners

Today's lesson started something like this: my sister stopped by our house for a few minutes before she had to pick up her son at swimming. Lately, my children have been more exposed than usual to me being in adult conversation that sort of...doesn't involve them. Like, at all. And they haven't been handling it with panache.

They were in the middle of eating lunch, so you'd think their mouths would be busy chewing and swallowing, but no. They raucously talked right through my sister and me, embarrassing me and, to be honest, ticking me off.

Now, I'm not a super huge fan of lecturing my kids in public if I can help it. I will say I'm around my family so much that sometimes I just have to, and my family is used to it. We're all so close that there's almost a...parenting overlap. My kids think of Jane as a second mother, and I think of her girls as my surrogate daughters (I'm not sure her son likes me very much; he seems generally offended by me and I try not to take it personally). Just the same, when you yell at your kids in front of others, it makes everyone uncomfortable, not just the children. So I refrain when I can.

Encouraging them to eat quickly and go play was my alternative, which they did. After Jane left, I found the boys in the playroom.

"Boys?" I said. "We need to talk about our manners when Mom has visitors."

"We do?" asked Joey. "What did we do wrong?"

"Well, when I'm talking to a grownup, or a grownup is talking to me, you may not interrupt. It's rude."

"Did we do that?"

I closed my eyes and took a breath. "Yes. You talked right over both me and Jane. It was embarrassing." I decided to go a step further. You know, really drive the point home. "You need to understand that when grownups visit, just grownups, they are here to see me. Not you."

"WHAT?" gasped Noah.

"That's right. They don't really want to talk to you. They want to talk to me. Believe it or not, people like me."

Joey's jaw dropped. Noah frowned. He said, "Are you sure? Because I'm pretty sure they just like me, Mom. I'm super cool."

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