"Although I speak from my own experience, I feel that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on another person. I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable for you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is off no use, then you can discard it." Dalai Lama...

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Good manners....

This bit popped out at me on the Random page I got this morning.

My daughter used to love to sprawl on the table to eat. In many parents' eyes they'd assume she wasn't learning good manners and she would assume sprawling on the table was "proper etiquette". And, yet, even though I never told her not to, she never did it at anyone else's house nor at a restaurant and did eventually out grow it. Not all kids are good at picking up social cues on their own like that. Some need our help. But *all* people are perfectly capable of understanding that different places call for different behavior. They can understand that appropriate behavior in one place can be inappropriate other places

When I read that passage this morning it reminded me of the time I first read it....

Milly is generally well behaved and has good table manners :-)  
She is friendly, polite and rarely leaves a shop, restaurant or cafe without thanking the staff. 

I had a brief conversation about manners in a cafe recently. The proprietor who had heard her thank the waitress as she gave her her food -  then cheerily say thanks and goodbye to them as we left - commented that I had trained her well. 

I don't consider we trained her... Well not in the way that lady meant...
I think that Milly has learnt mainly by following our example. We have also had many conversations that happened quite naturally along the way about social expectations and appropriate behaviour. We would talk about how various situations would require certain behaviour and we would all work out ways to help her through the situation if needed. There were many times where visits were kept short and other strategies were employed to make things go smoothly for her.

When Milly was young she found it very hard to sit still and eating at the table was like torture for her. Aware of this we made different choices depending on how she felt each day. We had a tartan rug to set up a picnic anywhere we wanted to eat. We often ate under the dining table in a den :-)  Eating whilst sitting on the table ( plus dancing, sitting on it whilst playing, and whatever other uses the table could fulfill for her in her games ) was also good fun for her. TV dinners were normal practice. 

I remember a time as she grew older when things started to become stressed because we began to make mealtimes more rigid thinking she needed to learn how to behave!

Reading the page above meant we stepped back and used the advice given. 

Milly was often hungry much earlier than the time we would eat ( Alan home from work later then ) so I fed her earlier and we often asked her to join us as we ate to chat or share some food with us which she would do if she wasn't too busy playing or doing other things :-)
There were times at the weekend when she would happily sit and eat dinner at the table but we kept these times short and when she was ready to leave she was able to do so without being expected to ask to leave. Mealtimes were generally fun and relaxed affairs.

 If we were eating out we chose not to go to restaurants - that was an environment where it would have been much harder for us to accommodate her needs to wander and explore and the needs of fellow diners to have a peaceful meal :-) -  and chose instead to go to pubs or cafes where she ( and usually one of us ) could walk around and explore with her til the food came. We also took plenty of things to do at the table whilst waiting for us to finish eating. Picture books to look through, small jigsaws that could be done easily, pens and a pad. Often that was a time when DOG stories were told., 
Whilst we finished eating Milly might request a story. One of us - quite often Alan as he was brilliant at making them up and she had favourite ones he told that she remembered :-) - would make up spur of the moment stories. These were about Scruffy dog - Milly's most treasured soft toy :-)  All these things meant that she didn't become bored and her behaviour didn't deteriorate. We still kept these visits as short as possible - rarely having a starter - so that they were positive experiences for her.

Basically we knew her limitations and were amply prepared to ease any situation. 
It meant more work for us and plenty of forward planning but we ended up having a travel pack with bits and bobs in to take with us. It sat by the door so it was very accessible and it just became habit to take it. 
Even now we remind her to take her pens and paper, ipod, ds or anything else that she thinks will make the sitting and waiting easier for her. There are now many times where she doesn't need them....

Being human:-)  there have been times when my patience has worn thin, and there were times I became concerned about her apparent lack of social graces. However over the years we have tried hard not to put her under pressure to conform.

Proper etiquette isn't the most important thing in the world  - at home things are very relaxed ;-) 
 It costs nothing though and good manners enable you to fit smoothly into any circumstances. 

Over the years she has observed how others act and she chose to adopt some of those behaviours. 
She understands how different places call for different behaviour .

For many years she really didn't like being in the more formal setting of a restaurant. 
Just this weekend she was reminiscing with great fondness a meal we had and is requesting to go back to the restaurant we went to for my Mums 70th birthday party:-)
Champagne sorbet with Melon being the dish she most wants again:-) 


Michelle said...

i so empathise with this! Also we got told off on the tube last week by a lady who values her seat and space not being invaded by even my coat corner. C had sat on one side and then when a seat cme up on her other side I took it, then was reding my paper (C gaming on my phone) and i wanted C to see something so talked across the lady and she snapped "do feel free to just talk across me". I just apologised as clearly we had upset her but C was mortified and struggling to control tears (that flooded out when we got to the car) I said we should look at it as an exercise on how people should handle situations. If the lady was upset by us talking across her she could have suggested she swap with one of us or politely ask that we dont talk across her.

Lynn said...

Other people and their intolerance's have been rich fodder for "how might we do things differently" conversations!

If I had been in your shoes on the bus I would have reacted as you did (even though I think she completely over reacted!) and Milly would have reacted as C did...

We had a conversation today about saying sorry to people even though we may feel they are over reacting to our actions...... Milly and I tend to apologise if our behaviour has upset someone and often find that defuses the situation and in certain situations the other person is then more open to compromise etc... (((<3)))