'Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of Bahá'u'lláh, Founder of the Bahá'í Faith has written:
"A child that is cleanly, agreeable, of good character, well-behaved—even though he be ignorant—is preferable to a child that is rude, unwashed, ill-natured, and yet becoming deeply versed in all the sciences and arts. The reason for this is that the child who conducts himself well, even though he be ignorant, is of benefit to others, while an ill-natured, ill-behaved child is corrupted and harmful to others, even though he be learned."
I will be the first to praise my children, but probably also the first to criticise - I suppose that is the difficulty of the mother, who spends all of her time herding little ones. When we agreed to watch our little friend, Ma'ani, my difficulty became compounded, as here was a soul to whom I was not the mother, nor could I set the guidelines for his upbringing outside of the walls of our home.
That is not to say that his parents aren't doing a wonderful job! But it is always difficult to mesh two cultures, and each family has a different style of parenting (just as each parent does).
With the struggles come the victories, and a third friend has helped to put a little schedule in our day, which would have otherwise been rather vague. Also, it has brought yet another mirror to my parenting styles, and pointed out several issues that I have been addressing, little by little.
One of the things we have been working on as a little group is table manners. I love them, and I know how to use them, but I must admit I've let mine slip a bit since I left my mother's house (don't tell her). And when Olivia started mimicking my poor habits, I knew it was time to break out the old ones. We started simple: sit while you are eating, don't eat with your hands, keep your fingers out of your mouth, etc. And we've been layering other ones. The most recent (and difficult, now that we have another conversationalist in the house) has been "don't talk with food in your mouth."
Here are my three little chicks to show you the ropes:
1. Put food in. That's easy enough to do.
2. Close your mouth and chew.
3. Here's the tricky bit: keep your mouth closed while you are chewing.
4. Once that food has been thoroughly chewed with your mouth closed, swallow it up.
5. Is there any food left in your mouth?
6. No? Good - now you can celebrate!!
" If, however, the child be trained to be both learned and good, the result is light upon light." -'Abdu'l-Bahá