Rushville Republican

April 22, 2014

Meal time request, 'May I be excused from the table please?'

By Frank Denzler Rushville Republican
Rushville Republican

---- — In a day and age filled with fast food dining and other meals consumed on the living room coffee table, I grew up in a different time. My mother and father were rigid about a number of things, but few things had my attention more than at meal times.

With the exception of breakfast (which I frequently missed due to over sleeping) meal times were important times in the Denzler home. The mid-1970’s were a time prior to microwave ovens and in a time when if you missed dinner, there were no do-overs (or warm ups) – breakfast would be served at 7 a.m. the next morning.

My parents painstakingly taught my brother, sister and me table manners.

At the dinner table, I sat to my father’s right. Numerous attempts on his part were made to explain me that no one eats until the entire family is seated and then not before the prayer was followed with other insightful words of wisdom such as “sit up straight and don’t slouch” and “quit resting your arm on the table, Frank.” A final lesson was that we could not get up until we were excused from the table.

After failing to gain my attention, my father would reach over and I’d get thumped right upside the head, much to the glee of my younger brother and sister, who would immediately follow my father’s suggestions to the letter. It may have helped that they were out of his reach!

Those lessons that I came to understand early on (with a few refresher thumps along the way) regarding table manners must be a thing of the past in some households. They must be dead, or at the very least, must be dying a little with each passing generation.

It may seem as if I am standing on my soapbox, but it has been my finding that kids need to not only be taught right from wrong, but also to be taught manners.

A case in point, recently I went out to eat and as I began to open the door to the establishment. I heard a parental voice behind me say, “Hurry up and get in there and get in line.” At that moment, just as I was opening the door, two little kids (probably 6 and 8 years old) ran under my arm and cut me off at the pass. They ran in and proceeded to get in line ahead of me.

I couldn’t believe it. Then, to make matters worse, the mother came in and walked right past me as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. They then got into a rather loud debate as to what they were going to get once seated. Never once did the parent say, “Excuse me,” or scold her kids for running past me, or ask them to be a little quieter.

Moments later it was not hard to tell where the other family was seated. When our food finally arrived, I thought I could at least enjoy the remainder of meal in semi-quiet peace.

Wrong!

By that time the nearby kids had finished and were running around the restaurant, yelling. Again, no reprimand from the parent. Throughout the course of the running, a soda was knocked over. It must have been the mother’s soda because the room was filled with “You little (so-and-sos), look at what you did!”

By this time I had had enough, and as I got up to leave I glanced back and took a parting look at the table the little hooligans were sitting. Much to my surprise (not really), the entire group was moving to another table, the spilled soda dripping onto the floor from the vacated table.

I thought of saying something to them, but for some unknown reason I chose not to. Instead, I went to the counter to pay the bill at which time I informed the manager of the spill on the table and floor.

I wonder sometimes if I am too strict with my kids while they were growing up. I realize, however, that I don’t think so. I knew what was expected when I left the house for a meal away from the dining room table while I was growing up, and I did my best to instill that in my family. It worries me sometimes that for whatever reason parents opt to not be parents from time to time. I guess they feel the need to pick their battles. As I see it, that is the problem in a nutshell.

Parents need to be parents. I came about as close as I ever have to asking the parent what they were thinking that day. However, I would probably have been told to mind my own business. Well, I wish I had said something now, although it is too late.

Perhaps they will read this and think twice the next time they are dining out. As I close for this week, “May I be excused from the table please?”

Contact: Frank Denzler @ 765.932.2222 x106.