The next time your toddler’s behavior makes you want to give up on family dinners and just serve cereal all day, consider that the problem isn’t their lack of manners. It’s that they still only know the rules of toddler etiquette.
1. Arrive underdressed. – Let everyone know you aren’t an ordinary diner. Arrive at the table missing at least one piece of clothing such as a sock, shoe, shirt or, ideally, pants. If it is a formal meal, wear extra stickers.
2. Bring a guest. – A toy should be with you at the table. If necessary, hold the preferred toy hostage until your request for a plus-1 is granted. Your toy will understand.
3. Be patient. – Wait until seating assignments are settled before selecting another seat to take or lap to sit in.
4. Sit up straight. – You will know you are sitting up high enough when you are standing in your chair.
5. Always be the first to order. – Ordering food should begin long before dinnertime and continue until you are asleep in bed.
6. Hide your napkin. – Napkins belong on the floor. Ball your napkin up and throw it down. If it is a formal meal, however, allow it to float to the floor.
7. Wait until everyone is served. – When everyone is finally beginning to eat, ask someone to take you to the bathroom.
8. Don’t reach across the table. – Crawl across the table.
9. Hold your spoon, fork and/or spork properly. – Grip your eating utensil like a drumstick so you can bang it on the table like a drumstick, sans a beat.
10. Compliment the other guests’ food choices. – Declare everyone else’s food as being better proportionally, visually and on better plates. Kindly request that they share their food until it becomes necessary to take it by force.
11. Be willing to talk business at the table. – If you eat what feels like of all your food and/or keep your listening ears on, you should receive something of equal or greater value. Begin by negotiating for dessert, but don’t agree to anything until you have also acquired additional playtime, a late bedtime and a free pass from washing your hair.
12. Keep your face clean. – Wipe your face with the length of your arm. The one exception to this rule is that it’s okay to let your nose run.
13. Take one bite at a time. – Try to eat your entire meal in one bite. If anything tastes odd or you just think of something better to do than continue chewing, give somebody the opportunity to catch your food before spitting it out. If somebody doesn’t volunteer quickly, you are permitted to spit out your food anywhere you choose.
14. Eat with your mouth open. – You don’t want anybody to question whether you took a bite of your food.
15. Sympathize with a loser. – Lose a utensil under the table, in your seat or wherever you throw it across the room.
16. Be timely. – Eat at a furious pace or not at all.
17. Present your spoon, fork and/or spork to your mouth rather than lowering your head to eat your food. – The extra distance will increase the chances you will spill your food all over yourself, which leaves you with less food to eat.
18. Gesture with your cutlery. – Waving your food around on an eating utensil is a discreet way to get your food to fly off and decrease the portion you have agreed to eat.
19. Always send back at least one course. – A meal can never be perfect, so select a food and throw it, kick it or slingshot it off your spoon.
20. Request more courses than anybody else. – A seven-course meal is a meager snack, because you should only be expected to eat one bite of anything.
21. Butter your own bread. – Refuse anyone’s offer to butter your bread. Butter all of your food yourself, but use ketchup instead of butter.
22. Pour something out for your homies. – At least half of a sippy cup of water should be spilled in your vicinity. Your pet, real or imagined, will love you for it. (Spilling food counts too.)
23. Save your uneaten food. – Ask someone to save your food for you, but never eat it later.
24. Don’t stay in touch. – When you get down from the table. Stay underneath it and out of the reach of adults.
25. Compliment the chef. – Insist that the chef (probably Mommy, maybe Daddy if it is a full moon) is the only person qualified enough to hold you. Make them hold you forever.
A toddler’s strict adherence to these rules should at least give you hope that they might someday follow the general rules of common decency at the dinner table. But until then, you can keep eating all of the good candy while they sleep as sweet revenge.
Related post: 25 Easy Ways To Annoy A Toddler