There's a fine line between good manners and being plain stuck up. I'm all for teaching kids to be polite, but when this lesson slips into constant nagging, it's pretty tedious for everyone.
Our current issue here is burping and farting. The language is the first problem. Burp? Belch? Vurp? (Vomit and burp at the same time. I know.) If you think there's no nice way to describe that then try farting. What is the polite version of this word? "Passing wind" seems far too restrained, so...... Parping? Popping? Trumping, as my step-daughter would have it? Already a minefield and we haven't even left home.
Most of the time I ignore the production of bodily gasses, although extremely smelly botty burps do get a mention, in a: "Good god, child, what have you been EATING?!" way that has us falling about laughing. The trouble is, in a household of five, plus two dogs, there is an almost continuous stream of bodily emissions, so frankly there's little point attempting to correct every single one.
The problem arises when we move into public spaces and the kids carry on as they do at home. It's inevitable that they will belch and fart in public, the question is, what to do about it. I realise, rather too late in the day, that my lax parenting at home has followed me out onto the street.
My step-daughter will quite happily poison anyone who is passing with the kind of foul odour peculiar only to her backside, and simply deny all responsibility when challenged. Several times she has blamed the dogs before realising that they are not even with us.
My son is well versed in more solid affairs, and I suspect the less we say about this the better, though if you have not read about this, well, you should. It's hilarious, if I may say so myself.
The star of the show is, however, my six year old daughter. Blonde, blue-eyed and cute as a button, she looks like an angel. But she can belch like a trouper, on demand, as loudly and gut-wrenchingly as a full-grown man. That child's burping has a maturity of guts and feeling that are so beyond her tender years that, were this a talent in piano playing or mathematics, she would be considered the kind of genius prodigy that comes along once in a lifetime.
Every time we go out, every single time, she belches her best. And every single time it gets a laugh from someone. I chastise, I tick off, I chide, but she simply grins, and produces another ace. So now I have given up.
I am now mortified to announce that my daughter can burp the alphabet. A fact of which she is unspeakably proud.