Mealtime, and an opportunity for a lesson in dining etiquette. It starts off easily enough. I remove my own elbow from the table, so as not to model a bad habit of my own for my impressionable daughter. She's off to a good start, having organized the blessing of our food, down to mandating the hand-holding around the table.
"Bella, you should keep your elbows off the table when you eat, like Daddy does."
Alex: "Here. Put one hand in your lap, and use the other one to eat with."
Bella: "Oh! Okay. Like this?"
Bof'us: "Yes! Good girl!" A couple of minutes go by.
Alex: "And always chew with your mouth closed."
Bella: "Not like this?" (illustration below from another recent dining experience; click it to go there)
Bof'us: "NO, not like that!" A little more time passes.
Me: "You are learning good manners!"
Bella: "Yes. Like when Daddy toots?" (makes grossed-out face) "Yucky." (Alex is laughing proudly)
Me: "When Daddy toots, that is NOT GOOD MANNERS."
Bella: (matter-of-factly) "It's not good for ME, either."
Having recovered from that exchange and finished our meal, there was time for one more lesson.
Me: "Bella, do you know what to say when you're finished eating and you want to leave the table?"
Bella: "Ever'body get outta my way?"
Me: (after pausing to consider how effective that might actually be) "No, you say, 'May I please be excused?' and then Mommy or Daddy will say, 'Yes, you may.' "
Bella: "And then ever'body will get outta my way?"
This all caused a bit of pondering on my part--what are manners, after all, but a way to get people to do what we want, while being nice? And while we were at it:
Me: "Bella, what do you say if you burp?"
Bella: (grinning madly) "I BURP-ED!" (My mistake here; I was too literal)
Me: "What should you say?"
Bella: "Excuse me?"
Bella: "Like when you are in front of my way, and I want you to move."
Me: "Well, yes."
That's it. I'm ghost-writing "Emily Post for Toddlers" for her.