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Table Manners - Children


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This is a sort of follow on from the earlier thread re Restaurant Etiquette...all of which most interesting and useful (I too born in Surrey but with Northern parents and taught the 6 o'clock cutlery position!) Our 3 children, all at school here since Sept come home from their day with interesting observations on their classmates table manners, since I am termed by my offspring to be a real 'stickler' for table manners, they are delighted to regale me with what they see as 'not the done thing', for example, spreading ones croissant liberally with pate at breakfast and then dipping it in hot chocolate, followed by (this observed by my 5 yr old son), quote: 'but Mummy, he was actually DRINKING his soup out of the bowl AND in front of everyone in the cantine'....from my 12 yr old daughter the following: ' I don't beleive this myth that the french eat a healthy diet Mummy, they have actual slices of butter on their baguette at breakfast and then at least half a jar of jam on top of that!' , okay I realise you need to allow for 12 yr old exaggeration, but even so I took her point. There is plenty more, the children seem to especially enjoy the stories about picking up bones from the plate and 'gnawing' at them until they are clean - 'but Mummy we would never (be allowed)do that in England (in public)'....as you might imagine, we have plenty of conversations about different cultures etc and how the french are world-renowned for their deep love of food, and how 'good' manners are different depending on where you are in the world, but somehow I feel the children have spotted a way to target their nagging Mum over the issue of manners whilst at the table. Strange too that they are happy to observe the eating habits\manners of others and take great pleasure in recounting these to me, in expectation of some kind of feinting fit, but they convientiently still forget to remove elbows from table and to close mouth whilst still eating! Is there anyone else out there who has had similar experiences who could offer any advice!
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I agree with what you have said about other French childrens) table manners, I had always heard stories of how french children had good table manners because the grand mother was always the one to instill them( dont know where i have read that) but having observed a few french children at parties and public functions i have seen some `dirty eaters`! But what i have noticed more in the few months we hace been living in france is that they ( the french ) are obsessed with`gouters` always sweet biscuits or chocolate spread butties as my children call them, and very close to when you know a meal is to be served or just eaten, we are reminded to send one to school for each recreation , even though they have had a good breakfast and come home for a full lunch and a meal in the evening, and the snacks i am told that they eat, dry beakfast cerial, chocolate drinks ,and when i ask do any take fruit? only me......almost makes me feel mean!
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>children seem to especially enjoy
>the stories about picking up
>bones from the plate and
>'gnawing' at them until they
>are clean - 'but Mummy
>we would never (be allowed)do
>that in England (in public)'

Had to laugh at this as it brought back memories of my childhood. My father spent quite a lot of time in France before and after the War (not during) and regarded himself as very much a Francophile. But it used to drive my mother absolutely insane when he picked up chicken or pork bones in restaurants and gnawed them clean.

Her haughty retort to his excuse that "it's standard practice in France", used to be "well, of course, in France it would be!"

Daughter has acquired the same bad habits, I'm afraid, and it now irritates the hell out of her husband.


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Good job this thread was here, guests last night and the son used the cork screw to clean under every one of his nails at table, all the debris, straight onto the table cloth......delightful. His Dad did have a word to say when the kid was going to ram the cork screw into our table though, so I am thankful for small mercies.
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It never ceases to amaze me how few obese people I see in France in spite of the huge amount of food the French appear to eat (liberally dosed with cream and butter - termed "cardiac cuisine" by my husband). How do they do it? They eat loads of bread too so it's not a sort of Atkin's diet thing either. Apparently though obesity is now on the increase in France but I think it is quite lagging behind the UK and USA.

Re: table manners my husband refers to eating with one's mouth open as "cement mixing". I used to catch out my son (still do sometimes) when giving him a biscuit - he put it straight in his mouth and I said "Manners - what do you say?" - he said "Fthankyoof" and I retorted with "How many times do I have to tell you not to talk with your mouth full!"

By the way I find it really difficult to keep my elbows off the table after eating whilst chatting in a restaurant or at home at the table - I feel really stiff and unsociable and tend to get dreadful indigestion and so I am really rude in that way at least!

P.S. I am born of Yorkshire parents but in Middlesex and I seem to think that I was taught 6 o'clock too - it was my posh friend who told me about the 20 past four position for knife and fork table etiquette!


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I have heard that the table manners amongst polite society in France is that you are meant to have your hands above the table at all times, forearms resting against the table. Elbows on the table is not considered as impolite as hands in the lap. I guess meaning if your hands are under the table what else might you be up to.
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