Category Archives: manners

The Imposter Children

Last night we ate dinner at a nice restaurant.  Nice meaning the boys had to wear shirts with collars and buttons and shoes that weren’t Crocs.  Toward the end of the meal, our waiter pulled me aside to tell me how impressed he was with our boys.  He said, “I just want you to know, your kids were great.  They were so well-behaved.”

I thought this:  I’m just as shocked as you are!  Normally, they’re a complete disaster in a restaurant, especially in a nice one like this.  I expected them to be a hot mess of whining and complaining.  I anticipated endless unnecessary trips to the bathroom.  Tonight, they did none of that.  And they actually ate the food they were served!  Dylan even ate a new shape of pasta.  Pappardelle for fuck’s sake!  Someone must’ve drugged them.  Either that, or they’re imposter children.  The real Dylan and Riley have been snatched!

I said this:  “Thank you.”

Take note, fellow Mamas (and Daddies), I received and accepted a compliment about my children’s behavior, which means I received and accepted a compliment about my parenting.  I’m trying hard to be present in this glorious moment and soak it all in, but in the back of my mind, I can’t help but wonder if maybe they are imposter children, because they slept until almost 8am this morning, which is lovely but odd for my little roosters.

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The impostors.

p.s. I’ll be documenting peculiar, er, I mean, good behavior for the remainder of the day.

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Filed under manners, motherhood, parenting, restaurant, Uncategorized

The Fish Counter

Editor’s note: This is not a list.  Repeat.  This is not a list.  If you were hoping this was another list, I’m sorry.  I assure you I’m working on additional lists and will share them just as soon as I can.  I’m doing the best I can, people.   You have no idea how much whining, bickering, and spelling I’ve tolerated over the last 48 hours.  My boys are like an old, strange, spelling-obsessed married couple.  They even bicker about spelling!  They make it almost impossible for me to have an original thought besides the fantasies I have about having their vocal chords removed.  Quite frankly, it’s amazing I’m still here at all.  Today, instead of a list, I bring you a tale from the fish counter.  Try to enjoy it. 

So, I’m in the grocery store with Dylan after school one day.  We’re at the fish counter getting a pound of shrimp and Dylan blurts out to the fish guy, “Hi, I’m Dylan.”

The fish guy says, “Hi, Dylan, I’m Joshua.”

Then Dylan says, “Nice to meet you.”

The conversation goes on.  The fish guy, Joshua, asks Dylan if he had fun at school and what he learned.  Dylan responds with pleasantries like, “Yes, I had fun and yes, I learned a lot.”

A woman walks up to me and says, “Wow, your son is so polite.”

I pause and then respond humorously (sarcasticly?), “He has his moments.”

It’s true.  Occasionally, he has these astonishingly amazing moments of politeness, respect, and grace.  Other times, as Riley would say, “Well…”  But this moment – the one at the fish counter  – was one of the good ones, and it involved absolutely no coaching from me, so it was actually one of the really, really, really good ones.  Instead of acknowledging it, owning it, and feeling pride about it, I undermined it.  I deflected her kind words and made an excuse.  In doing so, I suggested this woman caught us in a rare instant of good manners, and that’s not accurate.  It wasn’t fair to Dylan, and it wasn’t fair to me.

Why do I find it so easy to blame and guilt myself to death about all of my kids’ flaws and my shortcomings as a mother, yet I find it utterly impossible to accept a compliment about them or my parenting?

It’s not luck that my kids say please and thank you (most of the time); rather, it’s fortune.  The greatest kind of fortune.  My boys’ character and values are the result of nearly six years of back breaking work, including periodic bouts of lunacy, but small talk with good manners at the fish counter with Joshua makes the reward worth the effort.

It’s taken me years to learn to say thank you when someone compliments me  And believe me, I still need plenty of practice.  I wish I had the same discipline toward accepting a compliment about my kids or – gasp – my parenting.

How are you at accepting compliments – about you, your kids, and your parenting?

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Filed under manners, motherhood, parenting