This one is for MTJAM (and the title is for my brother and sister).
Emily wrote about Accidental Parenting and how she has inadvertently let her children develop a habit of nude baked beans. I’m not sure what to make of her comment that my accidental parenting is more deliberate (certainly Max would say that just introducing children to baked beans at all is worthy of a Social Services visit) but I’ll let it pass 😉 She’s not to know that I intended to bring my children up thinking that they lived in the Chalet School and I’ve fallen further from grace than I could have ever believed possible.
There is, however, a matter of etiquette that divides this house more than most people would deem necessary and shows up the differences between Max and me only too clearly. Dinner tables are divided and sometimes it is a close call as to whether tempers will get lost. And it goes something like this.
I’m left handed and all the rest of the family are right handed. I’m a terrible parent when it comes to good table manners and thinking ahead and so when my children were little and I wanted to get food down them, I just used to give them a fork each and let them get on with it. They, of course, used this fork in their dominant hand, which is their right hand and so learned to use a fork right handed. This didn’t cross my mind as a bad thing; when you are left handed, people doing things right handed, or opposite to you, doesn’t tend to look strange in the way right handed people seem to find left handedness cack handed and weird. I suppose we see a lot more right handedness and get used to it. I know when I used to work in a shop I got so used to people needing a pen handed to their right hand that it always surprised me to get a left handed customer.
Image credit theukmenu.co.uk
So anyway, I didn’t notice that they were eating backwards and of course when they eventually moved on to needing knives, they naturally used them in their left hand.
This was where the revelations and problems started 😯 And let me tell you, it had nothing to do with how many cute and interesting and educational table mats I’m allowed to bring home from work. *cough* (See what I did there? 😉 )
It was only at this point that it occurred to me why being given a spoon and fork for pudding at school was always such an issue for me. I use my fork in my left hand, like most of us, but I also use my spoon in my left hand, so I had to choose which one to favour. I never could quite get it all sorted out – but then a spoon and fork for treacle pudding seems like overkill anyway, if I’m honest. My children however, now eat backwards.
This doesn’t even remotely bother me; I’m left handed but I eat ‘right handed’ but my right handed children at ‘left handed’. Given I can manage a knife in my non-dominant hand, I don’t really see why the girls can’t manage to do the same. Well, they can, they manage at least as adequately as I do.
For Max though, it is a red rag to a bull in a high class cutlery shop. It appears to be completely beyond him to comprehend that they are not being compromised in their ability to cut and shovel by having their cutlery ‘the wrong way round’ and more over he is convinced that it is bad manners to eat backwards. Our conversations go round and round.
If *I* a left hander, ate backwards, as ought to be my right (as it were, no pun intended), would I have bad table manners?
Have I indeed failed my children by letting them eat in the wrong direction?
Will they ever be invited to lunch with the Queen if they use their knife in the left hand?
Do people look at them and think they’ve been badly brought up due to this bit of early lax parenting?
Personally, I don’t give a flying toot what way they do it, I can’t personally see it makes any difference and I’m simply relieved that these days more food goes in their mouth than on the floor but he does seem to genuinely believe that not only should the children be forced to alter their habits to suit a Victorian etiquette, but it is totally reasonable to force left handed children to eat right handed if they don’t want to in order to serve such an outdated thing. Or right handed to eat left handed. or whatever. Even I’m confused now 😆
So I really don’t know? Certainly eating backwards tends to illicit a comment, usually “are you left handed?” But is it bad table manners? Have I… oh my god, failed?????