Going forward I’m going to try and dedicate Wednesdays to family and fatherly themed posts. I’ll try to make it a habit to recap any parental “Faux-Pauls” and maybe feature a parenting goal or dream. We’ll see.

For those who aren’t connected with me on Facebook, “Faux-Pauls” are what I’m now calling those little parenting mistakes which in hindsight were easily preventible. You know. Those little lapses in judgement that create funky situations. Nothing earth-shattering or monumental, I don’t expect. Just little snippets of every day life with the kids that hopefully others can learn from my mistakes. Fair warning, if we are connected on FB, you’ve already seen this week’s entries. Sorry, I promise to screw up more next week to keep things fresh for you.

Fatherly Faux-Paul 1: Leaving the 3yo unattended with a Costco-sized container of Grated Parmesan Cheese! Lil Bit is fiercely independent and often enjoys pouring things for herself. Depending on the level of cheese in these containers there are times when she can legitimately manage the process. Two problems this time. First, it was a mostly new full container. Two, Lil Bit opened the wrong side of the two-sided lid. She opened the wide open mouth not the side with the grater/dispenser holes. Daddy blew it by putting the container on the table in the first place, then stepping away to get the kids’ drinks.

In the end, the boy was mad because Lil Bit wasted all the cheese. Lil Bit was embarrassed and frustrated because her attempt to express her independence failed. I was obviously hurried and frustrated but really had to laugh. I think the dog was the only one in the house who was happy about this one.

Fatherly Faux-Paul 2 carrying the 3yo piggy back at the State Fair while she worked on a Honey Stick courtesy of the NC Bee Keeper’s Association. I actually saw this one coming. I’m not that clueless. I decided that the risk of a cheap honey hair treatment while carrying her piggyback outweighed the pain of carrying her in my already exhausted arms, or the risk of letting her wander free in the state fair crowds. Sometimes when you’re the daddy, you have to take one for the team.

The true Faux-Paul here was getting cocky and believing I dodged a bullet. During the 45 minute ride home I was silently thanking the parenting gods for the fact that I didn’t feel like I had a moist sticky scalp. It was only after we trekked home, got the little one down for a nap and I had a chance to sit quietly that I realized my hair was unnaturally sticky. It was then that I realized I’d been “crittered.” Ah well. One more treasured memory from a special day.

Fatherly Goal — Table manners: Erin and I figure we’re on an 18 year time table with each kid. By the time they’re 18 and we send them out into the world as “adults” we hope they’ll have better passable table manners. They’ll stop wiping their mouths on their sleeves. Stop wiping their hands on their shirts or pants and finally STOP using their hands to eat all manner of food!

We’re counting on peer pressure to help us to some degree. We’re hoping that one day soon their respective peer groups will start putting pressure on them to eat like civilized humans and less like jungle-raised primates. Of course Whirlwind is a boy and I’ve met his friends. They are all wonderful, intelligent, well-spoken children, but most of them are also 8 yo boys and there’s a regression that takes place as soon as you put more than one boy that age together, so my hopes might be misplaced there.

Erin and I are reasonably sure that the prospect of dating is our only hope for either child demonstrating any interest in etiquette. We’re hoping against hope that some day we’ll notice that one of the kids table manners has improved. The child will use the knife and fork in harmony for their intended purpose and only for their intended purpose. We’ll get through a meal with out any silverware drum solos. The child willcut food into manageable bite-sized portions not just halving their steak and gnawing mouths full off the half slab.

Maybe just maybe they’ll sip mouths full of their milk and periodically set the cup down. No longer draining the cup in one serving. Then when we comment and compliment them on their much improved manners the child will say, ‘well, there’s this person at school that I really really like and…” Then the light bulb will go off. This is our dream.

We’d better be right about this because I’m counting on this as one of the first clues that one of my children is actually interested in impressing another individual on a personal level. So, you understand now why table manners are so important, right? What do you think? Will peer pressure help our kids learn their manners and tame these Critters?

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