Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Etiquette and Mother's Ingenuity

Mom sees a need for table etiquette lessons, and fills the need herself, in a very creative way... 

Teaching table manners to the children was once a common sight in homes throughout the world.

Children's Table Manners
"After a long illness in the hospital I returned home to find that my children's table manners had suffered a complete demoralization. They 'gobbled,' used knife and fork indiscriminately and always awkwardly, regarded their spoons as shovels and, in short, were perfect little savages.
In order to remedy this quickly I started a series of 'company luncheons,' at which I was the hostess and the children the guests. I set the table as prettily as possible and made funny little place cards. The children played up delightedly, took grown-up names and even washed their hands without a murmur. 
Teaching children in Canada, 1898
We made a set of simple rules: The guests who behaved perfectly received three pieces of candy, the guests who made only one mistake received one piece of candy, while any unfortunate guest who committed three breaches of table etiquette received no candy at all. 
Questions on table manners were in order at any time, to be answered by the hostess. I chose dishes for these luncheons which are not always easy to eat elegantly, and I was very happy to see how quickly the children improved in table manners and other manners as well, for our 'company luncheons' seemed to help genial courtesy quite wonderfully. 
The best of it was that there was no nagging nor cross words. It was all good fun, and my four youngsters can now go anywhere and eat anything, and mother has the proud consciousness that they will always appear to good advantage." 
Contributed to the Los Angeles Herald, June, 1910
This 1950 "training implement for infants" had a "swivel" feature that I am sure kept toddlers entertained, but probably did little to teach the child to move the spoon in the swivel motion himself, or herself.

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia