So back to the library and the train table. And manners!
No sooner had I sucked up my disappointment at the rudeness of the other child, when my own child decides to have “a moment” of his own! And so now the proverbial shoe was on MY foot!
Deciding one particular train had exhausted its usefulness, my son randomly threw this train onto the floor and grabbed another one off the table. Ah, he’s already become accustomed to our disposable society! To which I said firmly, “Don’t throw the train. Do you want a new train? Okay, pick this one up and put it back first.” And I helped my son bend down and grab the train on the floor and deposit it back on the table before he could play with his newly chosen train. He made a cranky sound for a second, but then allowed me to guide his hand to the thrown toy and place it back on the table. And he happily moved on to toy #2.
I felt, then saw the other mother eyeballing me like I was from Planet MeanMom. The nerve! Actually making my son PICK UP toys instead of allowing him to fling them all over!
Okay, let me back up. I’m not like a total neat-nik (anymore!). At home, if my son is playing, yes, he gets more freedom to let toys run riot on the living room floor. But we weren’t home, we were in a public space. So we needed to exercise a higher level of manners.
Was the train-throwing a small and probably insignificant event? Probably. Is he too young to understand what I had him do, picking up the toy and putting it back? Probably. But when is he “old enough”? Because I fear by that point if I haven’t already helped him go through the motions of being polite, it’s going to be that much harder for him to learn to pick up after himself, to not throw toys, to allow other children to play in the same space.
Is there a “too young” point to begin having children practice good manners?