Home > Monday Minute > Monday Minute: Love Is Like A Mustard Seed, Or In Some Cases A Whole Spoonful Of Mustard

Monday Minute: Love Is Like A Mustard Seed, Or In Some Cases A Whole Spoonful Of Mustard

Some of you who know me think I’m too hard on James regarding his table manners. One day, I might concede this battle but for now I continue to feel strongly that table manners are one of the social skills James must have a handle on in order to be somewhat successful and independent in society later in life, and I’m not willing to let it go without a fight. I’ve said it before that I’d rather people, including James, think I’m a little bit mean now than have strangers actually be mean to him down the road or for him to miss social opportunities because he doesn’t know to chew with his mouth closed, burp loudly without laughing or resist wiping his plate clean with his fingers. Some of you “softies” are probably thinking to yourself, awww, give the kid a break – that doesn’t sound so bad. He’s 11 years old – lots of boys his age have terrible table manners. Yet I think even you’ll agree that if you witnessed this evening’s Monday Minute at your dining room table you might scoot a few feet away from the offender.

James is in italics, my responses are in bold.

Mom this is a great dinner (I was trying a new recipe that hides a lot of spinach into a cheesy casserole).

Thanks, your sister helped me make it. It’s kind of like mac and cheese, right? (feeling fairly pleased with myself).

No, I meant the ham, cheese and crackers part. This ham is delicious!

Oh, well I’m glad you like it so much.

Can you please pass the mustard?

You need more mustard? I just gave you a ton of it.

But I want to squirt it directly onto my crackers to make little sandwiches.

Okay, but don’t use too much, be careful.

M: Mom, can I have some more water?

What do you say?

M: please?

(I walk to the kitchen to fill her glass, and on my return)

AAAHHHHH! What are you doing James? Stop it! Stop it right now!

(James stops sucking, mustard nozzle wedged tightly in his mouth, and glances in my direction)

What are you doing?


What?! Get the mustard out of your mouth. Ugh, give it to me. That is so gross!

Stop looking at me!

Then get it out of your mouth!

Stop looking (covers eyes with hands). Don’t look!

(I move the mustard bottle far, far down the table)

Look at me right now. I never, ever want to see you put any condiment bottle into your mouth ever again. Do you understand me?


I mean it – that is disgusting and very rude.


(Dinner resumes as usual, whatever that means)

Mom, may I please have a spoon?

Sure, James. Thank you for using your manners.

Could you please pass me the mustard?

James. Look at me. Remember what I said?


Small, small amounts.


This is your last chance.


(I cautiously pass the mustard to James)

Thanks, mom! (James carefully squirts a small amount of mustard onto his spoon and eats it.)


This battle might have been lost, but the war rages on.

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