September 12, 2013

Why third children never learn manners

On hamburger night, everyone eats. On lentil night, my husband makes fart jokes and Zachary won’t even try the rice and Lilah says, “I don’t like lentils,” then tries them and remembers she does. On burrito night, Lilah eats her tortilla wrapped with beans and cheese; my husband eats it with beans, cheese, and salsa; Benjamin has beans, cheese, rice, and salsa; and Zachary eats plain tortillas. When there’s salad on the table, Lilah only wants the apples and chickpeas, Benjamin sometimes eats the greens but won’t touch the chickpeas, and Zachary completely ignores it.

But on hamburger night, everyone eats. Although, to be honest, my husband only eats the salad, I only have leftover meat, and Lilah doesn’t want a bun. For us, that counts as a win.

“They didn’t like my Math About Me poster.”

“What do you mean, they didn’t like it? What did they say?”

“I need more catsup.”

“They said I needed more color.”

“You didn’t use color?”

“No, I used three colors.”

“I need more catsup.”

“So, I went and added a lot more color. I put red on the number 52 for the number of windows we had.”

“We have 52 windows?”

“I need more catsup.”

“Well, I counted all the little ones as separate windows. And I added shading to five for how many people in our family.”


I looked at her. Then I looked back at Zachary, who continued because in our family one does not yield the floor without duress. “I put eight for how old I am, because I’m eight till Friday.”


“Boys, can either of you tell your sister what she’s doing wrong?”

Benjamin, who I thought was absorbed in simultaneously standing on one foot, eating a burger, and deconstructing a cardboard box in the next room, looked up. “You have to ask nicely.

“I need more catsup, please,” she snarled.


“’May I please have more catsup?’ I made a mouth from the number 24, because that’s how many teeth I have.”


“That’s not how you ask for something.”

“But I didn’t add color to that because you can’t add color to a mouth except the lips.”

Sobbing, “I need more catsup, please.”

“Although I really have two half-teeth.”

“Oh, fine,” said Benjamin, putting down his remaining one-eighth of a burger and picking up the catsup. He walked around the table. “Where do you want it? On the burger or the plate?”

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  • Reply WendyElissa September 12, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Yay! I’m so happy you wrote a new post! I love how Zachary incorporated all those numbers about himself in his math work! And poor Lilah, but I love the specificity you require in her grammar:).

  • Reply eli poist September 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I have to disagree about the third child and manners because as the third child I have the best manners of the bunch. Mainly because I had to go through the whole scenario you are talking about to get something at the dinner table or anywhere. Yes I had to raise my voice to be heard but I did have to learn to be nice. OH WAIT that was your point.The third child does get the best manners eventually.
    As for the lentils, I live with a boy and man-boy. Fart jokes are the territory.

  • Reply emily September 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    She knew we were waiting for her to phrase it as a question, rather than a statement of fact: “May I please…” However, she was stubbornly refusing, and her brother just went ahead and got it for her. She never learns manners because they give it to her anyway!

  • Reply Sarah Piazza September 12, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Thanks for the funny in my day today. 🙂

  • Reply Catherine September 20, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Look at that middle child, making peace. 🙂

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