She is only two years old, but right now I cannot foresee Ally ever being fit to attend any fancy dinner. Her lack of regard for any basic table manners is more extreme than I can imagine overcoming.
She was never interested in all the pureed baby food, so we moved pretty quickly to allowing her to feed herself things like sweet potato wedges, noodles, steamed veggies, etc. My mom thought this was weird and maybe I should have listened. I thought that letting her do it herself would make her more advanced and let her be more independent which she clearly wants to be. She became an expert with a spoon and a fork well before most kids her age. But now, it seems, she needs new challenges.
Spoons and forks are for babies. So she is exploring new methods…
Since retro is always in style, she often enjoys trying to perfect the Five Fingers method. Often this actually involves all ten fingers and both palms. Simply picking up a piece of food between her thumb and finger is not nearly unique enough. She’ll squeeze the food, move it between hands, and find the most awkward and challenging way of getting it to her mouth.
Other times she goes with the Hand and Utensil Combo method. This is where she picks up a piece of food (usually something messy like pasta with sauce or ice cream or marshmallows in her cereal) with her hands and then puts it on her spoon, making sure its placement is exactly as intended. Occasionally she’ll reverse the process and expertly stabs a green bean before taking it off the fork, moving it from hand to hand, and then putting it in her mouth. This method ensures that both hands get fully coated with food, the maximum amount of food is dropped on the floor or spread across the table, and that the preferred utensil is utilized so her charm school instructor (that would be me) can’t reprimand her by saying “Ally, please use your fork.”
When she feels the need to show off, she goes with the No Hands method. This is exactly what you would expect it to be. With her hands by her side, she simply leans into her food and takes a bite. She learned this trick while eating cupcakes. Supposedly, she didn’t want to risk wasting frosting by getting some on her hands and having it wiped away into a napkin. She has extended the use of this method to other foods as well, most recently while eating M&M’s off of a coffee table at the home of one of our friends.
The absolute worst technique, however, is her Regurgitation method. For this, she uses any of the above techniques for getting the food to her mouth, then chews for anywhere from 10 seconds to 3 minutes and spits it back out. This is what would most certainly result in being asked to leave any dinner party. Especially if she offered the partially digested mush to the other guests as she often does with us – although Dodger and the cats don’t seem to mind.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, I want to go ahead and apologize to my family for whatever form of grossness she decides to display during the meal. You have been warned.
Perhaps I’ll offer her chopsticks next.