After a speaking program in Witchita, Kansas, a woman shared with me a little tradition her family has around the dinner table. About once a month, they have a meal together in which good manners are strictly forbidden.
That’s right, forbidden.
One dinner a month in which anything goes. Elbows on the table. Napkins optional. Burping welcome. Slurping your spaghetti. Talking with a mouthful of meatballs. Rudely demanding for the peas to be passed pronto.
As you might imagine, the kids reeally look forward to this. And I’d bet my last dollar the parents do, too. Even though Miss Manners might flip her lid, we all need permission from time to time to take a break from the rules, blow off some steam, and not take ourselves so seriously.
Of course, there’s a fine line to this on the childlike vs. childish front. It might not be a good idea to play this game at a restaurant or when the neighbors come over for dinner for the first time. But once a month in the comfort of your own home? I say give it a try. And I’m no psychologist, but I would venture a guess that you can actually turn it into a teachable moment about why good manners are important.
Just don’t make it too professorial. And keep an eye out for those ducks underneath the table.