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10 Table Manners Your Kids Should Learn


Now Mind Your Manners!

As a child, how many times did you hear that growing up?

Studies have shown that children learn table manners better by example than by being preached to. Why is it that when your child doesn't pickup on some detail that we point out their faults? No one likes when people points out their faults, even our children.

It has also been shown that teaching your children proper table manners is also another way of teaching important life lessons that they will use and remember throughout their life.

Too many people today view table manners as something that is insignificant. However, if more parents took the time to teach their children proper manners they would also be reinforcing other important life qualities such as courtesy, love for others and self-control.

Take the time to teach your children manners. If you need help in teaching your kids, checkout some helpful resources below.

Does this look like your dinner table?

Does this look like your dinner table?

Does this look like your dinner table?

Why are Table Manner so Important?

Table manners are so much more than about proper eating. Table manners teach some life lessons like being kind and considerate of others. In today's world, people area also judged on how they appear and how they act. Now this may not be fair but it is a matter of fact that we have to live with. Having proper table manners is one way people judge others and you don't want people to think that your children are barbarians, do you?

Believe it or not, table manners are taught as soon as your child understands what you're saying. Remember that your children are just starting to learn so they will need coaching and reminders on table manners throughout their childhood. This coaching and reminders work best with positive reinforcement.

Children will respond better by recognizing and acknowledging when your child does something right and you let them know. We also know that because your children are just learning they will make mistakes, so when your child does something wrong, do not be negative about it, instead gently tell them and better yet show them how it is best done and why.

Whether in the privacy of your home or in a public restaurant, below are some basic table manners to teach your kids:

Table Manners for Children : Teaching Kids to Use Utensils

Books On Manners - Help Your Kids Learn Their Manners

Table Manner # 1 - Eat with a Fork

Teach your child to eat with a fork unless the food is meant to be eaten with fingers. Remind your child that only babies eat with fingers and you know that they are now longer a baby.

Eating with a fork is good to teach kids at a very young age because it helps them build dexterity in the hands and fingers. Yes, I know they will make a mess but it is better in the long run to teach when they are very young. It will take time so be patient.

Table Manner # 2 - Passing food

I know that you don't want to hear your child say or yell "bread" as they reach across the table. Teach your kids how to to ask for food rather than just blurting out what they want.

Proper etiquette for passing food is to pass it counterclockwise. It should also be noted that all dishes should be passed around the table.

In all honesty, we do not always follow this rule in out house but we do make sure that our kids ask for food the proper way.

So what is the proper way to ask for food at the dinner table? The proper way to ask for food to be passed is "May I have some bread, please"?

Table Manners - Spotlight Must Have

Table Manner # 3 - Chew with Mouth Closed

I am sure you can will agree that no one likes to look over at someone and see that person chewing their food with their mouth open. I know this is one thing that really gross me out. I hate to look around a restaurant and see someone sitting next to me chewing there food like a cow..

I would also include talking with food in the mouth in this table manner lesson.

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Unfortunately, I see plenty of adults breaking both of these table manners. Again, to be honest I know that I sometimes talk with food in my mouth, but only when I need to correct my children at the dinner table. But when I do I make sure to cover my mouth so no one can see the food inside.

Teach your child to breath through their nose and chew with their mouth closed. Also, teach them to wait and speak only when their mouth is not full of food.

Table Manner # 4 - Don't Stuff your Mouth Full of Food

Until about a year ago, my wife was still getting on to our kids, especially my son, about stuffing their mouth full of food. She always explained to them that they might choke. Well if finally happened. My son was eating a piece of Mongolian beef. The beef was sliced in long, thin strips. Part of the beef got stuck going down his throat and he got choked.

This really scared him and he has not stuffed his mouth since. This was an unfortunate way for him to learn this lesson. You know most of us males are hardheaded and have to learn the hard way.

Explain to your children that you do not want them to get choked. Politely explain what can happen.

Table Manner # 5 - Place a Napkin on your Lap After being Seated

Teach your child to place the napkin on their lap right after being seated. The napkin is to be used to gently wipe or dab your mouth. Teach your child to dab their mouth before drinking from a glass. No one want to see spaghetti sauce on the rim of their glass, right?

My kids used to have a habit of wiping their hands on their pants so we have taught them to keep a napkin on their lap. This way they wipe the napkin instead of their pants. Plus this keeps any stains off their pants.

It is also important that your kids learn how to properly be excused from the table to go to the restroom. The proper way is to place the napkin to the left of their plate. Once finished with their meal, they should place their napkin neatly to the right of the plate (not refolded, but not crumpled either). Typically, this process is only used when dining out at a restaurant or at a formal event. However it is good to teach this lesson at home and then reinforced when eating at a restaurant.

Table Manners - How to Properly Use a Napkin Video

Table Manner # 6 - Don't Speak Rude of the Food Being Served

Teach your kids to not make any rude or negative comments about any food being served. It will hurt someone's feelings.

Remind your child that someone took time, energy, and expense to prepare the food, and they should show your appreciation.

Also, teach your kids try a little bit of everything that is served even if they do not like the food. This is especially beneficial when your kids spend the night at a family or friends house. The family member or other parents will be very impressed with this good table manner.

Stop Bad Child Behavior

Table Manner # 7 - Say Thank You

Teach your kids to always say "Thank You" when served something. Teach them to always show appreciation.

Explain to your kids why we should say thank you when being served.

Remember, someone took time, energy, to prepare and serve the food or drink, show your appreciation.

To rant real quick, how hard is it to say those two words "Thank You"? I constantly notice that adults do not say Thank You. This is so rude. My pet peeve is when I hold the door open for someone and they do not have enough courtesy to say Thank You.

Table Manner # 8 - How to Eat Bread

Teach your kids that when eating bread or rolls, it is proper to break off a piece of bread before buttering. Eating a whole piece of bread looks tacky.

Dipping the entire piece of bread in the side of butter looks even more tacky. Teach your kids to place a small pat of butter on the edge of their plate and not to butter their bread from the butter bowl.

Table Manner # 9 - Don't Pick..

Don't pick your teeth that is. Teach your kids that they should never pick anything out of your teeth while at the table, it's gross.

If it bothers you that bad, excuse yourself and go to the restroom to pick.

Again, teach your child that no one wants to see inside their mouth plus the mouth carries a lot of germs.

Good Table Manners Video

Table Manner # 10 - Don't Shovel...Eat Slow

Teach you kids to eat slowly, don't gobble up the food. Your kids are using a fork not a shovel. Teach them to take their time and enjoy the taste of their food.

As a general rule I tech my kids to wait about 5 seconds after swallowing before getting another forkful or spoonful. Teach your child to place their fork or spoon on the edge of their plate after each bite. This will make them slow down

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Share your thoughts and other table manner ideas - Leave a comment below and add your 2 cents worth

RickByrd1 (author) on April 03, 2013:

@Gloriousconfusion: Thanks for stopping by and sharing. You make a good point about teaching kids to be considerate of others.

RickByrd1 (author) on April 03, 2013:

@johnny-knox: Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

Diana Grant from United Kingdom on April 03, 2013:

When I was at a rather posh boarding school, we were taught not to start eating till everyone had been served; We weren't allowed to ask for bread, salt etc. but had to wait till it was offered, and thus were taught that part of good table manners meant asking your neighbour whether she would like bread or salt and then passing it to her. Of course we had fun hinting at what we wanted, such as saying "that bread looks nice". I like this, because it teaches children to be aware of and considerate of the people around them. We also had an expression "don't fly", which meant don't stick your elbows out so that you jog other people annoyingly.

johnny-knox on April 02, 2013:

Amazing lens ,, practical and important points.. Kids should definitely learn suvh manners and will realize their importance when after becoming adults

RickByrd1 (author) on April 01, 2013:

@Webinaut: I agree that different cultures have different manners, not just table manners. Of course in the States there are "finger foods" but to me that is not an excuse to eat with your mouth open or even stuff your mouth or place a napkin in your lap.

Manners is definitely a lost art and yes it seems that most wait staff doesn't know that placing your knife and fork together at the top of you plate means you are finished but at least they should ask to ensure you are finished.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us.

RickByrd1 (author) on April 01, 2013:

@Alan Katz: Thanks for stopping by and good luck.

Alan Katz from Florida on March 30, 2013:

Nice lens! I'm going to share it with my 11 year old daughter.

Webinaut on March 30, 2013:

This is a really thought-provoking lens. I taught my own children these table manners and more. But, as I get older and more tolerant, I wonder how much is culture-specific. Asians eat with chopsticks, so the fork thing doesn't apply to them. They eat with their mouths open, which horrified me at first. But that is normal in their culture. Many African, asian and middle-eastern people eat with their fingers. There are certain dishes that are designed for eating with fingers (restaurants even bring finger bowls) - chicken wings, for example. I was taught to put my knife and fork together to indicate I was finished. This seems to be no longer recognised.

RickByrd1 (author) on March 30, 2013:

@ChristyZ: Thanks for stopping by and sharing. We teach the same thing. There is a fine line between being polite and being rude when it comes to eating at other peoples home. If others take the time to make food for our kids then they should be polite just because an effort was made to feed them.

ChristyZ on March 30, 2013:

Great selection of manners books for kids, I had a couple of these that I read to my children when they were young. I remember trying to teach them not to say anything rude about food being served. I would tell them that it's alright to think it but it's never OK to say it out loud because it would hurt people's feelings. :) Very helpful lens for parents!

RickByrd1 (author) on March 05, 2013:

@themightierpen lm: Thanks for stopping by and sharing. You make a really great point and it is something that does hinder not only good table manners but also communication among the family. I sometimes struggle with this during baseball season. I want to watch the Braves play even during dinner but my wife gives me a gentle reminder that we don't watch tv at the dinner table.

themightierpen lm on March 05, 2013:

Great page, great tips. I think part of the problem these days is that very often children aren't looking at their parents eating to learn how to do it properly, because they're watching the television instead. Sitting round a table offers a much better way for parents to keep an eye on their children, and for children to absorb good manners through incidental observation.

RickByrd1 (author) on March 01, 2013:

@JeffGilbert: Thanks for stopping by and sharing. Also, thanks for the spelling error.

JeffGilbert on March 01, 2013:

Rick, this is a great page, that should be read by a lot of parents. I just want to bring to your attention that in your opening line, change here to hear. Great lens!!!

RickByrd1 (author) on February 22, 2013:

@anka05: Thanks for stopping by and sharing. It's really like everything else we want to teach our children...start young and lead by example.

anka05 on February 22, 2013:

It's a very good guide for any parent with small kids. As early as you begin, as better the results will be. And you're right - we need to teach them by example.

RickByrd1 (author) on February 13, 2013:

@reasonablerobby: It seems as though many young people today have never been taught to respect others. Thanks for stopping by.

reasonablerobby on February 12, 2013:

Etiquette that sets you up for life. Be sociable, respect others.

RickByrd1 (author) on February 01, 2013:

@annedavies lm: Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

What a good idea with the cushions. However, my son would probably enjoy the cushions.

I also agree that there should be no chicken wing eating at the table. It took us a while to break my son of this habit. It was especially bad because he is left-handed and I usually sat on his left side at restaurants.

annedavies lm on February 01, 2013:

Rick, when my daughter was little, the first time she put her elbows on the table, I placed 2 small cushions under her arms & made her eat with the cushions underneath her arms until she learned to not do it anymore. Keeping her arms wide open like a flapping bird about to fly was also a NO NO at the dining table.

RickByrd1 (author) on January 14, 2013:

@DarrenVeronica: Darren:

Thanks for stopping by and sharing. I still put my elbows on the table from time to time and my daughter gets onto me or should I say politely reminds me. So at least you don't have someone getting on to you.

DarrenVeronica on January 14, 2013:

Ok, so as a full grown man, I am still having trouble not putting my elbows on the table (shame on me!). However I am trying! Thanks for putting this great lens together - Darren

RickByrd1 (author) on January 14, 2013:

@tomoxby: Thanks for stopping by. I think a lot of people to not understand the table manner of how to eat bread. The idea is that you cut your food before you eat it (like a steak or piece of grilled chicken) so the same applies to bread. Tear off one small bite at a time and eat that piece before having another..

tomoxby on January 14, 2013:

Some good tips. No so sure about the one about eating bread as that is the first I have ever heard of it and do not follow it myself, but the rest should be taught to all kids.

RickByrd1 (author) on December 29, 2012:

@CoolKarma: Thanks for stopping by. You are so right.

CoolKarma on December 29, 2012:

This is a great lense. Manners are missing so much in kids these days.

RickByrd1 (author) on December 27, 2012:

@BigsteveC: Thanks for stopping by and sharing. It is amazing the things we learned from our parents and use today as parents but hated to listen to when we where kids just like our kids hate to listen to us sometime.

I just hope that our kids will also remember these lesson when they are older and can teach their kids.

BigsteveC on December 27, 2012:

hey - what are you - my mother!! - jk - it's really funny because all of those instructions that mom made us adhere to my wife and i passed along to our kids - brings back memories of when they were little - the youngest is a soph in hs already - enjoy these moments - they pass by all too quickly - great lens - see you soon

RickByrd1 (author) on December 27, 2012:

@anonymous: Thanks for stopping by. You are absolutely right.

anonymous on December 26, 2012:

We need to teach our children and grandchildren manners!

RickByrd1 (author) on December 20, 2012:

@kabbalah lm: Thanks for stopping by. I wouldn't go so far as saying kids don't but would say too many kids don't have manners or respect.

kabbalah lm on December 19, 2012:

Good advise. Unfortunately, kids today don't have manner or respect.

Short_n_Sweet on December 17, 2012:

Thanks.... It might be useful:-)

RickByrd1 (author) on December 16, 2012:

@anonymous: I don't know but maybe an adult acting like a piggy would be worse.

anonymous on December 16, 2012:

Nothing worse than a kid acting like a little piggy at the table.

anonymous on December 14, 2012:

The very much for stopping by my dog and kids

RickByrd1 (author) on December 13, 2012:

@anonymous: Thanks for stopping by. Good luck with the table manners and stick with it and your daughter will do great. Just remember that even though it may be a battle sometimes, she will remember the lessons as she get older.

anonymous on December 12, 2012:

My daughter is 4 so table manners learning is in full swing! I must remember your points as I go along.

RickByrd1 (author) on December 08, 2012:

@anonymous: Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

anonymous on December 08, 2012:

Tiffany's Table Manners for Teenagers is a wonderful book that includes social politeness as well as how to eat, useful and entertaining for adults too.

RickByrd1 (author) on November 20, 2012:

@laptop89: Thanks for stopping by! Glad you liked the lens.

laptop89 on November 20, 2012:

Great lens. I like it!

RickByrd1 (author) on November 18, 2012:

@caretakerray lm: Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Good manners are so hard to come by thesr days from both kids and parents. We have to keep teaching.

caretakerray lm on November 18, 2012:

So glad someone stills believes in this. Good table manners are like good manners in general, always appreciated!

RickByrd1 (author) on November 09, 2012:

@Ajeet: Thanks for stopping by and sharing. I glad you found the lens useful!

Ajeet on November 09, 2012:

I am teaching my kids this stuff right away.

RickByrd1 (author) on November 01, 2012:

@LaPikas: Thanks so much! I am glad to help any time I can.

LaPikas on November 01, 2012:

@RickByrd1: THANKS A LOT! for taking your time and giving me your opinion

I took the liberty to link this lens to one of mine.

RickByrd1 (author) on November 01, 2012:

@LaPikas: Thanks for stopping by. You ask a very interesting question. I know several families that are trying to teach their kids manners as associated with the U.S. and with their native country, so I asked then what they do.

They told me that it is actually very difficult but they still think it is important to teach both. They said that when they are at home they will discuss both and they also understand that their kids are in America and will gravitate more towards the American culture. A couple of the parents insist only on teaching their native culture manners when at home and when going to a native restaurant and then when going to an American restaurant they use that as an opportunity to teach their kids about American manners.

I know it will not be easy but you will first need to decide how important it is to you to teach your kids about your native culture and then go from there.

I hope this helps a little.

LaPikas on October 31, 2012:

I really enjoyed your lens and find it very useful since I have 2 young kids.

Question: What do you do if you live in other country where the table manners are totally different? How do you teach by example when they are also learning from what they see at school, restaurants, etc every place they go. Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank you.

RickByrd1 (author) on October 30, 2012:

@Sara Dowling: Thanks for sharing your thoughts! You're so right. I know for my family we are only able to eat together at home thee times a week. We are always on the go and I do notice that our kids manners do fade when we get back together at the table.

RickByrd1 (author) on October 30, 2012:

@victoriahaneveer: Thanks for coming by and sharing. It does start with the parents. Maybe I should start a lens on table manners for parents. LOL!

victoriahaneveer on October 30, 2012:

It's such a shame how often kids don't have a clue about etiquette at the table because the parents simply don't care. Knowing how to behave at the table seems to be a dying art in some places. I don't have kids but if I did then they would know how to behave at the table.

Sara Dowling on October 30, 2012:

Thank you, such an important topic ... so many people these days don't even eat at a table so its no wonder kids don't have manners ... really great lens

RickByrd1 (author) on October 27, 2012:

@WriterJanis2: You are right and don't out kids sometimes embarrass us enough as it is.

WriterJanis2 on October 26, 2012:

Table manners are important so kids learn how to dine in public without causes embarrassment to the rest of the family.

RickByrd1 (author) on October 19, 2012:

@Jogalog: I understand. The whole idea is to take the butter you need and place it on your plate and then only butter each bit as you eat. This allows you to be able to pass the butter if needed and to ensure you are eating one bit at a time and not eating half a roll in one bite.

I do not always follow this myself, especially at some Italian restaurants that bring out a loaf of bread and provide an oil dipping sauce.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out the lens.

Jogalog on October 19, 2012:

Manners are important and I agree with most of these but some are going a little too far such as not to butter the whole piece of bread. I'd never heard of this one myself and consider myself to have good table manners!

RickByrd1 (author) on October 10, 2012:

@IsobelDeSantis: I totally agree with you and thanks for the kinds words about the lens.

IsobelDeSantis on October 10, 2012:

I think half the problem is, most of the parents have bad table manners so how can they teach their kids? Really well put together lens :)

RickByrd1 (author) on October 05, 2012:

@ara-bella: Thanks for stopping by. Putting these into action can sometimes be hard because I know with my kids I feel like all I am doing is getting on to them. So I definitely have learned to pick my battles, so sometimes they might get away with a few of these table manners.

Good Luck!

ara-bella on October 05, 2012:

Very helpful, need to put some of these into action with my boys :)

RickByrd1 (author) on October 01, 2012:

@bonniegean: I totally agree with you. I don't want to see someone else's chewed food. These are probably the same people that smack their gum when chewing gum.

patriciabruce1 on October 01, 2012:

Really great info & nicely done lens!!!

bonniegean on October 01, 2012:

@royalnewton: Even if you were never taught good table manners while young, you should make it a point to learn them as an adult so you have some positive reinforcement to pass down to your own children. IMHO

bonniegean on October 01, 2012:

My parents made sure we didn't eat with out mouth open and to this day, I can't stand being at the table with adults who chew their food like a cow. I get the same reaction to that as others get when you scrape a chalk board with your fingernails. :) Nice lens.. Very informative.

RickByrd1 (author) on September 21, 2012:

@jenkem-jones-3: I am sure this is very frustrating. This is a difficult situation for you but the longer it goes on the worse it will get. Check back in and let us know if things get any better.

jenkem-jones-3 on September 18, 2012:

I have permanent house guest that have no manners. They invite their dog to eat at the table and sometimes they take the food into the living room and throw it on my carpet for the dog to eat.

Of course they eat like wolves and allow their children to scream and vandalize my dining room table (with their utensils) while they are eating. My stepson's girlfriend is the worst, she says things like "Eeeew! What is that? I don't want to eat that! How can you eat things like that? Do you have anything else to eat?" She's twenty six years old.

Joan Haines on September 03, 2012:

My pet peeve was addressed here. I think it is beyond rude when kids say, "Eeeeeeew." about the food they have been served.

SecondSally on September 02, 2012:

I think that learning these simple things can have a positive effect on the child's overall behavior as well. Children are not miniature adults and they need some guidance if we expect them to behave in an acceptable manner.

anonymous on March 22, 2012:

Good teaching lens. Thanks for sharing. Frankly speaking, i don't like people talking while having their food in the mouth.

anonymous on February 10, 2012:

I really enjoyed reading these! My 21 year old son will choke any day from the amount of food he puts in this mouth, my beautiful 11 year old daughter will grosses us out when she eats almost like a dog, my 9 year old son upsets me (the mom and cook) when as he walks into the kitchen, he says, "Eeew!" and so on. Happily, my husband wants to have a lesson on this and I'm going to give it. Thank you for all of these ideas!

truorder on January 30, 2012:

modeling good behavior is the best teacher too. practice what we preach parents!

moonlitta on January 22, 2012:

It's not often that I find pages on truly important but overlooked subjects here- here is one of them!

Buchamar on December 21, 2011:

Too Cute! Thank you!

I feature educational kids apps - come visit!

royalnewton on September 22, 2011:

Start young. Keep reminding them. Praise them. The kids will remember the importance of manners when they become adults.

anonymous on August 30, 2011:

Thank you so much for posting this. Our company does a lot of etiquette training, and it is really difficult to fix a lifetime of poor table manners in two hours. Start early and practice, practice, practice until these things become second nature.

Tracy Gibb on July 05, 2011:

Manners are so important! Thanks for posting this!

penguinavations on June 30, 2011:

Awesome lens!

RickByrd1 (author) on May 28, 2011:

@mukeshdaji: I guess it's never too late to learn table manners, especially if we want to correctly teach our kids.

Take care and good luck!

- Rick

mukeshdaji on May 28, 2011:

I just learned I have to pick up the pace on my own table manners, nice lens!

RickByrd1 (author) on May 21, 2011:

@marckq: Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I really glad you guys enjoyed the video.


- Rick

marckq on May 21, 2011:

Thanks for the reminders. My 8 year old read this. We had fun watching the video. Thanks again!

lasertek lm on May 17, 2011:

practical and important points. nice lens!

My lens, Homeschooling 101: Guide to Free Curriculum and Other Resources.

anonymous on March 10, 2011:

Nice lens.Thanks for sharing. strategic planning software

anonymous on March 06, 2011:

Hi Rick,

thanks for sharing this. As a matter of fact, if bad table manners become a habit, it's hard to unlearn them because we aren't aware of them anymore - like driving a cars as adults.

That's why it's important to teach this to our kids.

I made the experience that kids pick up on the atmosphere of an environment.

In a loud and hectic restaurant for example, it might be harder for kids to keep their manners.

On the other hand, in an elegant restaurant with a calm atmosphere they can be as docile as lambs.

Take care


Heidi Reina from USA on January 27, 2011:

Important table manners basics, and entertaining video. Blessed by a Squid Angel ~

anonymous on January 15, 2011:

Hello, My name is Cecelia Rupp. I have written an Activity Book for children about table manners. I truly love this book and want to pass it on to others. Although I do have to charge for the book because it does cost a bit to put it together, I believe anyone who does purchase this book will see their family improve their table manners in one meal.

The website you can go to for imformation on "How to be #1 Kid at Table Manners" is in two places. Then go to education department, and one more stop to bookstore. I believe that peace in the world is taught at the dinner table in each one of our homes. Have you ever wondered how you can help bring peace to the world? Peace to your family? I have. Peace is the best goal in the world.

The other website is the ordering site It has a couple of remarks from a school councelor and a couple of mothers. If you want more information I would be happy to talk with you through email or phone. 208-637-8913. I am glad I had this site to share my thoughts and talents with. I hope you can take advantage of the ideas I have provided for our children in America and around the world. Thank you. Cecelia Rupp, Author

natas105 on September 11, 2010:

AWESOME lens! Love the topic! How something that seems so unimportant can really make you think. Would you check out my new lens and tell me what you think about it?

freddi on April 12, 2009:

My son & I just watched the Crawford's Corner video. It's cute! And my son enjoyed it.

freddi on April 12, 2009:

I liked this. Good tips and reminders. I need reminding of them myself sometimes :-) I like the way you presented this - concise and easy to understand. Though I would fix a few typos and misspellings, you did a nice job on this.

I think another reason for having good table manners is that it helps you with confidence when you're in a more formal dining situation. I remember feeling very uncomfortable and unsure of myself when I was in a more formal dining atmosphere because I wasn't sure what to do.

I'm going to favorite this lens and try to work on some of these with my little boy. Boys do not naturally have good table manners! ;-)

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