Etiquette: It is a word that most young folk have never heard and most adults can barely spell. But how to behave in public around other human beings has been on the top of my training list for children lately. Right before “don’t feed the cat your pasta from supper” and right after “be sure and wash your hands after you use the restroom.
Wash them again.
You get the idea.
Our children typically are very friendly in public, almost to the point where they scare people off. All it takes is for some sweet old soul to comment on how adorable they are, and the gates of Norris Dam open and all of them begin talking at once, telling this person their names, ages, favorite colors, favorite movies, and how they used to pick their noses but now they don’t.
But they did today.
Because that is the truth.
And we should always tell the truth.
After that whirlwind of conversation, I usually get a sympathetic smile, then they high-tail that shopping cart as fast as they can to the self-checkout. Don’t want to risk getting in line in front of us, do ya? Didn’t think so.
I realize that some of this comes from a long line of naturally outspoken relatives, right down to their mom and dad. I never met a stranger growing up, which Scruff McGruff from Chicago, Illinois strictly warned me against in the 1990s.
I did not heed his advice, therefore everyone within an arm’s length of my parents knew my full name, address, and donated happily to my Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser, just to get rid of this kid with the giant bangs and slap bracelets.
So I decided to practice a little the other night with our wild card, ahem, I mean, our third child. The kid has these huge blue eyes, ears that stick out just enough, and these pinchable cheeks and he is instantly irresistible. Plus, he is the youngest, which means he gets away with murder. Or at least consuming an entire pack of Mentos gum in one sitting.
I explained to him that he was going to pretend to be himself (not confusing at all, right?) and I was going to be a lady in a nursing home.
He smiled, stepped forward on the cool tile of the bathroom as I sat on the toilet lid pretending it was a park bench.
He extended his pudgy hand, smiled a toothy grin, and said, “Hi! I Titus. I two and a half. Nice to meet you! And you? YOU ARE AN OLD WOMAN”.
Well. He’s got that handshake down pat.
Christie Elkins is a Campbell County native whose columns appear weekly on the Lifestyles page of the LaFollette Press. She’s a mother of three and a full-time blogger at www.mywalkwitheden.comLaFollette Press