The Morning Call (Sunday)
Slow eater keeps entire family stuck at the table
Manners: My 11-year-old does all things slowly. The beat of his drum is something like one-quarter the speed of most people’s. Normally this is fine, but mealtimes are a conundrum.
At dinner, polite behavior requires that diners wait for all to finish before moving on to dessert or other activities. However, this either requires the entire family to sit at the table an extra 30-45 minutes every night, or we leave him alone at the table to finish.
Sometimes we compromise by leaving one parent with him. Sometimes we beg him to eat faster, but that seems unhealthy, as well as impolite. How would you address this?
Gentle Reader: By encouraging the other family members to stay for a reasonable length of time — say, 30 minutes — in the name of togetherness. And when that does not work, tell them that you are supplementing their education with valuable conversation skills — ones that can help with college and job interviews later on.
Doing otherwise, Miss Manners cautions, will set a precedent that others can leave the table when they have eaten.
Dear Miss Manners: My fiancee is a chronic double-booker. She suggests plans, only to message me shortly before and say, “I cannot take you out because I forgot I have work/an interview/a phone call, etc.” It continues to hurt my feelings.
What offends me the most is that my fiancee has a tendency to negotiate after she apologizes. I feel the tasteful thing to do in an apology is to accept blame and not point fingers or go into explanations. Am I wrong?
To make things more complicated, there are definitely cultural differences at work. Should I reduce my expectations?
Gentle Reader: You are the one who must determine if this is acceptable behavior. If it is not, tell her of its effects. Hurt feelings are non-negotiable, and only build over time. Miss Manners suggests you be careful of that.
Write to Miss Manners at MissManners@unitedmedia. com, or by mail at United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016