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  • Writer's pictureTina

I Give It A "0"

As I sat watching my darling girl slurp her homemade vegetable soup and take large pieces of "homemade" bread, ball them up and pop them into her mouth, and then audaciously open mouth burp, I lost my sh**, as they say. The Bean and The Bibbed Wonder both got a tongue lashing for their lack of manners and polite decorum. Because we NEVER go anywhere, and we NEVER see anyone does not make it okay to lower one's table manners to that of a barnyard animal. They both went to bed early to escape my dagger bearing gaze and quick, sharp tongue. As I sat in now peaceable silence, I began to think about what has suddenly become acceptable since we have avoided going out in public. Following is a list of things that have definitely taken a nosedive since this pandemic began.

First and foremost, table manners have been in steady decline. Allow me to be honest; table manners were mediocre at best before the pandemic. Sitting still, not reaching across the table for whatever one wants, and keeping one's mouth closed while chewing has always been a challenge for The Bean. However, after being around several older children and a plethora of adults, my kid wasn't the worst. Welcome Covid quarantine, and suddenly meals became a free for all. Suddenly, talking with one's mouth full occurs on a regular basis. Reaching across the table is now acceptable. Inhaling one's food as if it will run away has become the norm. Burping, oh yes, burping is the newest and latest trend. It's not an accidental, uncontrollable bodily function. No, it is; I feel it rising from the depths of my bowels, embrace its journey, and open my mouth to allow it to escape. Then sheepishly say, "Excuse me!" makes it acceptable. Now, add The Bibbed Wonder clapping his hands and giving it a score of 1-10, and it looks like a tribe of Neanderthals. Sigh...I really do try.

Also, the care of one's personal appearance has hit an all-time low. I have lamented before on The Bean's aversion to soap and water. Not only does she wish not to bathe, but she also prefers not to comb her hair, brush her teeth, wear deodorant, or wear clothes that: match, fit, or are appropriate for the time of day. If permitted, the child would stay in her pajamas 24/7. Our morning routine now consists of my nagging her repeatedly to: wash her face, brush her teeth, comb her hair, fix her hair, put those clothes in the donate basket, find an outfit that doesn't clash, and for the love of God, find socks that match. These behaviors should be lather, rinse, repeat for a twelve-year-old. Sigh...she was more hygienic and fashion-conscious when she was a toddler.

Differentiating good clothes from play clothes is now a skill that seems to be lost. Living on a farm, we have our "good clothes." Good clothes are recent purchases, name brand, not covered in: soap, grease, bleached, holey, or look like they have spent their life in the barn. Barn clothes or play clothes are inexpensive clothes, have suffered a tragedy, and are no longer in the good category, items I will not cry over if they are covered in: poo, mud, grass stains, soap, grease, or bleached. The most recent example is the new Columbia snow gear. New pants, a new jacket, matching gloves, and boots are to be worn for sledding, snow play dates, and rare public appearances. New Columbia snow gear was worn to the barn to deliver baby goats, feed baby goats, and play with baby goats. None of those are on the "good clothes" list of approved activities. Now splattered with mud and covered with little hoof prints, The Bean wonders why I am loudly lamenting that I will never buy her anything nice again. As I stomp to the already overcrowded laundry room, she says, "They're just clothes, mom. They will come clean. It's not like we ever go anywhere anyhow." Insert angry face, loud sigh, and a look that sent her searching for her dad and his protection.

Lastly, the need to pick up after one's self is in the gutter. Again, picking up is not in the stellar category when there is no pandemic, and we actually entertain people other than ourselves. However, with the knowledge that no one will be coming over, our ability to tidy up and the desire to do so is at an all-time low. I didn't believe things could get any messier, but low and behold; I am proven wrong. Again, when I go on a tangent and demand things be put away properly, I am met with a confused gaze, and exasperated sigh, and the phrase, "It's okay, mommy. No one is coming over." Although true, it is no less infuriating and definitely not an excuse to take pride in being one curly tail away from a piggie. Let's be honest; the piggies are more neat and tidy.

I am unsure of what the outcome of all this time alone will be. I am enjoying our time together, and I truly do view it as a gift. However, I question whether our social skills will suffer and if we will again join civilized society without some embarrassing atrocity. Some day far, far away, she is going to go on a date. Is she going to talk with her mouth full, burp, pat her tummy, and ask for a score of her eructation? I shudder to think...

As always, dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, please mind your manners, and wash your hands.

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