Teaching my kids table manners is akin to a badger teaching her babies to fly. I’m not saying I have no manners; I’m saying I like to not use my manners. I enjoy licking my plate, my fingers and whatever else might contain a smidgen of A-1 sauce. I enjoy robust belching. I talk with my mouth full, and I might even chew with my mouth slightly open. I see little harm in these things when practiced in the privacy of my own home.

Of course as an adult, doing adulty things, I can be super polite, like Country Club polite; I’m not some bumpkin. But when I’m at home, with my husband and two kids, I like to loosen the manners requirements. What could go wrong?

Burps and Farts and Butts, OH MY!

My girls are now 5 and 6, and getting invited over to friends’ houses for play dates and over nights and dinners. I’m terrified that they’ll burp at the table, or worse yet, let loose a fart. Or what if they don’t burp or fart, but just start talking about them? What if they talk about butts or vaginas or poop? What does that say about our family?

By no means is it a free for all barnyard brawl at our dinner table, but I’ve not been very good about enforcing or modeling proper manners. I let them eat with their fingers if they want, if they belch or fart, I make them say ‘excuse me’ and I don’t give two shits if they lick their plates.

Cracking Down

That said, I’m not sure what the other families out there find acceptable. For sure, the bodily functions have to go. Nose-picking, flatulence and belching must be outlawed from here out. Participation in such activities shall result in a two minute expulsion from the dinner table.

Talk of matters disgusting or vulgar must go as well. This includes, but is not limited to: vaginas, penises, poop, vomit, issues relating to any bathroom related news and of course, discussion of burps and farts (those are big ticket items in my house). Again, a two minute time out shall be enforced should anyone venture into outlawed conversational territory. Adults included.

While I’m at it, I might just try and get them to stay in their seats for the duration of dinner. “Get back here, finish your dinner! Put the dog down!” seems to be the dinner time mantra. Herding cats, people–it’s herding cats.

While all of this seems like and simple and straight forward endeavor, I’ll remind you that I’m just as undisciplined as they are, and I might find myself in time out on the stairs. I can just see myself watching them eat the warm and deli-shus food without me, peeking back at me, wondering if they should laugh or be silent.

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

Parenting is tricky, and I wish someone had told me when they were little that if you set a standard at an early age, it will be much easier when they’re older. Of course, I probably would have told that person to fuck off and mind their own biz-nass, but that’s ok–I can’t be held responsible for my past hypothetical actions.

I’d like to leave a love note to the moms and dads of little ones: don’t follow in my footsteps. Think about the standard you want to set, and set that bitch! Hold fast and stay strong–your kids will try to wear you down and they will gang up on you, driven by the instinct to win. They will scream, bite, tantrum and sulk but stick to your guns like you’re making your last stand and one day, maybe when they’re five or six, you’ll be proud and amazed at what fine little creatures you’ve made.

The present pain will all be worth it when you can trust that your kids won’t bring shame on your family in social situations, nor will they blow your cover. After all, isn’t showing well half the battle? If no one knows that we burp and fart, do our burps and farts actually matter?


Jill is a seeker, writer and blurter of truth. She is a top-notch Vagina Evangelist, wife to a hoarder of camping gear and mother to 2 girls, 2 dogs and a cat who's been perilously close to death for several years now. From wildly comedic to tear-dripping serious, you can find her stories on her blog, Totally Inappropriate Mom, where her 'life-uncensored' philosophy, naughty humor and general inappropriateness run the show.


  1. LMAO. So basically what your saying is, the convo my daughter started at the dinner table last night in regards to her “extremely large dump” that she was over the moon proud of, should probably get nipped in the bud?

  2. All I have to say is that you’d be comfortable eating dinner at our house. Funny!!!

  3. Jill, want to grab a bite together? Hot wings style? We could take our crusty fingers for a manicure together afterwards? Maybe let one rip while we’re there? Just a thought…

    • Why, Ashley, that sounds amazing. After I’m done with my franks n’ beans, I’ll hop on over to your place for some more debauchery. Mmmm, buffalo sauce. I slurp that shit up.

    • Who usually wins, Vicki? I’m sure you do, as women typically have special talent in the arena of gas bubbles. If a gal puts her mind to it, she can do pretty much anything involving projecting air out of her body.

  4. Sounds and probably smells like my house. I take that back I have boys and one is a 5’11 tween. I wear a hazmat suit when I go in his room. I love to let one rip as much as the next 12 yo boy, but wet do restrict at the dinner table.

    Great post, Jill.

    • Thanks, Jenny. Yes, dinner table toots just get old after a while and when competing with a 12 yo boy you have to take the action to an outdoor venue. No ifs ands or buts.

  5. Yup. I get it. I sometimes check in with the kids just to make sure they know what appropriate manners, actually are. But when it comes to our own table and life inside our own house, we are pretty “relaxed…” Great post!

    • Thanks Shannon. It’s hard to remember that it’s super necessary to help them distinguish between what’s ok in our house and what’s not ok in someone else’s house. Great advice.

  6. There is nothing worse than when my low privacy standards for bodily functions come back to bite me in the ass. My boys were so obsessed with pooping (which was fine by me) that my middle son would go to other houses, spend 30 minutes in the bathroom, leave his underwear there as a souvenir, then come out and tell everyone how fantastic he felt. For years, moms would approach me with underwear in a ziplock bag everywhere we went. I finally convinced him that we should save our special, super duper poops for home.

    • H! Maureen, that is classic. I do hope you’ve saved some undies for the baby book? You can leave a wonderful story in there about is poop-adventures with proof so he can’t deny it. Funny!

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