Thursday, May 13, 2010

Emily Post

Thinking about life long ago and the systems that were in place. Like bringing up children. It seems we have come so far that anything goes now.  My Mom had not too long ago posted on Emily Post's book on Etiquette. I love hearing and reading about life in the early 1900s, well any American history. Anyway here is a little portion and taste of what used to be a normal thing! :)


  Since a very little child can not hold a spoon properly, and as neatness is the first requisite in table-manners, it should be allowed to hold its spoon as it might take hold of a bar in front of it, back of the hand up, thumb closed over fist. The pusher (a small flat piece of silver at right angles to a handle) is held in the same way, in the left hand. Also in the first eating lessons, a baby must be allowed to put a spoon in its mouth, pointed end foremost. Its first lessons must be to take small mouthfuls, to eat very slowly, to spill nothing, to keep the mouth shut while chewing and not smear its face over. In drinking, a child should use both hands to hold a mug or glass until its hand is big enough so it can easily hold a glass in one. When it can eat without spilling anything or smearing its lips, and drink without making grease “moons” on its mug or tumbler (by always wiping its mouth before drinking), it may be allowed to come to table in the dining-room as a treat, for Sunday lunch or breakfast. Or if it has been taught by its mother at table, she can relax her attention somewhat from its progress. Girls are usually daintier and more easily taught than boys, but most children will behave badly at table if left to their own devices. Even though they may commit no serious offenses, such as making a mess of their food or themselves, or talking with their mouths full, all children love to crumb bread, flop this way and that in their chairs, knock spoons and forks together, dawdle over their food, feed animals—if any are allowed in the room—or become restless and noisy.
  Once graduated to the dining-room, any reversion to such tactics must be firmly reprehended, and the child should understand that continued offense means a return to the nursery. But before company it is best to say as little as possible, since too much nagging in the presence of strangers lessens a child’s incentive to good behavior before them. If it refuses to behave nicely, much the best thing to do is to say nothing, but get up and quietly lead it from the table back to the nursery. It is not only bad for the child but annoying to a guest to continue instructions before “company,” and the child learns much more quickly to be well-behaved if it understands that good behavior is the price of admission to grown-up society. A word or two such as, “Don’t lean on the table, darling,” or “pay attention to what you are doing, dear,” should suffice. But a child that is noisy, that reaches out to help itself to candy or cake, that interrupts the conversation, that eats untidily has been allowed to leave the nursery before it has been properly graduated.  
  Table manners must, of course, proceed slowly in exactly the same way that any other lessons proceed in school. Having learned when a baby to use the nursery implements of spoon and pusher, the child, when it is a little older, discards them for the fork, spoon and knife.

You can read more from Emily Post here.

It put me in a lovely atmosphere just thinking about those grand ol days!
Much love and God bless to all ;D


Davene said...

This made me smile, especially the line about "flop this way and that in their chairs." Oops. I think that describes my boys sometimes. :)

Fortunately, most of their table silliness comes out during lunch, when no adult is here but me. At supper, when more adults are present and we're trying to have a civilized conversation, they act a little more dignified. :)

Seriously though, it is a constant process of training to ensure that they act in ways that are polite and kind and appropriate for each situation.

Anyway... I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day. There's something so very special about the first official Mother's Day for a woman, I think. :)

Elizabeth said...

Davene I agree about it being a constant process and I can see how well you have brought up all your boys. They are little delights.

This post was more in reference to parents who do nothing in the bringing up of their children and many families that I used to work for.

I would hold you up as an excellent example in raising your kids :P

And thank you! Yes, my Mother's Day was delightful! I am enjoying motherhood immensely! :)

Much love and God bless sweet Davene!

Pam said...

Elizabeth, I really enjoyed this post, It does to me just like you said it made you feel; it just puts me into the atmosphere of those elegant days. I feel a sense of longing for some of those sweet things. It seems like the rule of society today is "obnoxious" (Bart Simpson for example). It isn't that I don't appreciate the relaxed comfort that our homes are today, because that is very nice, but that there simply is not even a hint of these sweet mannerisms left. So sad.
I love you