As I remember it . . .
Back in the dark ages of my youth, being invited to sit with the grown-ups was a big deal. When we were liberated from the children’s table, it was a thrill! Keeping up with the conversation, well, that was a different matter. We were not expected to speak, however. No one took much notice of us. Our task was to master our manners – and not spill!
How great it was, then, to hear a friend reminisce about the esteem in which her cousins held her mom. Although a wee bit younger than I, she too remembers the delight of being young and included at the grown-up’s table. However, her mother not only included her and her cousins to sit at the grown-up’s table, and learn which fork to use, but she showed them how to be amiable guests.
Her method? Engage all the young guests in a grand game of conversational TAG!
Getting Kids to Play TAG at the Table
She made eye contact with a young guest and asked them by name questions, like how was your day; what did you learn today?
Then, when they had answered satisfactorily they looked across the table, chose another cousin who had not spoken, and asked them how their day was, and what had they learned.
Once a young person got the question, they were “it” in a conversation tag game. Everyone had to play, including the adults! No one left the table until they had been engaged in the conversation. Occasionally, their hostess would remark on the information, and ask for more details.
No monosyllabic answers were permitted!
Learning to Be “It” Paid Off!
My friend remembers the game fondly and so do her younger nieces and nephews. They may have felt like victims then, but now they appreciate what that simple training has enabled them to do. Thirty or forty years after these “occasions”, these folks remember how this simple gesture trained them how engage with people: make eye contact, use people’s names, and ask them about themselves!
“One way to meet new people is to listen more carefully to the people you see every day.” Robert Brault
In these times when it seems we are too often looking down at digital devices, even around the dinner table in the company of our loved ones, I loved hearing a concrete proposal to talk to each other!
Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use. ~Emily Post
How would you improve conversation around the dining table dear reader?