Ah, the ripe old age of eight. It’s second grade, I’d just mastered the art of long division, and I was finally allowed to stay up till 9PM on weeknights. Table manners were essentially the last thing on my mind. My mom seemed really excited when she picked me up from my after school program on that beautiful Friday afternoon
“Haley I just signed you up for something really exciting!”
Immediately I’m thinking it’s some sort of sailing class, or a soccer camp, or maybe gymnastics program. Flurries of different possibilities are flying through my eight-year-old brain when suddenly…
“It’s a manners course!”
#lolz #ok #cool
I literally thought she was pulling a prank on me, but low and behold the next week I’m sitting in a classroom outside of school hours with a dozen other miserable kids waiting for some cranky old broad to tell us to “keep our elbows off the table”.
I anticipated that I would be low-key napping in the corner while that one, snooty, know it all, snot nosed nine-year-old raises her hand to answer every single question. Despite completely dreading what I thought would be the most pointless week of my life, as a young woman going on twenty one, I can’t thank my mom enough for forcing me to go to those classes.
A lot of people think that manners are just chewing with your mouth closed, elbows off the table, and no slurping. But I left at the end of the week with extensive table manner etiquette. There’s a proper wait to scoop your soup, a proper technique for spaghetti swirling, and don’t even get me started on the three glasses, three spoons, three forks, two knives, and several plates/saucers.
I didn’t realize how much I would benefit from these classes until about 11 years later. At the age of 19 my mom finally started being more honest and open with me about things like jobs and Santa Claus. But anyway I went out to lunch with my mother and one of her business associates in South Carolina over spring break. Watching a fully grown man slurp down a $50 bottle of Pinot while tearing apart his roast duck dish like a starved boar who had been fasting for 6 months while still trying to hold a conversation was simply painful.
Needless to say, seeing that a 40-something-year-old man had such poor table manners was appalling. My mom later told me he eats like that in front of their company’s clients and it’s actually cost them business. That’s when I realized how important it is for children to be introduced to table manners at such a young age. If you don’t learn then, when will you? In the business world it is crucial to be presentable and professional at all times, and now that I’m at an age where job interviews and first impressions are so vital to my future, I’ve realized how much I need those skills. I am eternally grateful for that week of setting tables and pretend eating at etiquette class. Thanks, Mom.