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When does the need to use napkins begin?
Watching Youngest eat, you would think she uses them. Each time there is a drip on her hand or a spot on her cheek she wipes, folds over the offending area and drops the paper cleaner on the floor or table (depending on her attention). Youngest will not reuse a napkin once it has performed its duty. At some meals (barbecue, pb&j, cereal) this can lead to a discard pile that rivals youngest in stature. She appears as a dainty expert in the art of self-cleaning.
Until you see her leave the table. Peanut butter streaked across the front of her shirt, jelly smeared across her cheeks, and fading milk spots on her shorts would lead the casual observer to believe she had never even heard of a napkin. I believe this is not limited to my daughter either. I have seen the pre-k children at lunch. They all appear to be using some sort of wiping device, but largely end with the same results. So, effective napkin use doesn't begin here.
Then, it seems, in my home anyway, that by middle childhood they have given up the hope of napkin use. In handing Boy a napkin with dinner you will see a slight shrug of the shoulders and a reluctant hand stuffing said device in his lap. Here its existence is promptly forgotten for the duration of the meal. There is no flagrant wiping on shirt or shorts, instead it is a casual wipe across the shirt done quickly and effectively. If one is not watching for it, it would escape the eye all together.
Let it be said that Boy hates to have dirty hands. He washes them many times a day, spending full minutes completing the task after taking out the garbage or some other unpleasant task. Yet somehow this meticulous behavior doesn't translate to food. I sat watching him clear his plate and head to a bedroom yesterday. Only to find that his hands were too greasy to open the door. Instead of washing them, he reflexively began reaching for his shirt front. Being quick, I
In looking at Teen, I see some napkin use beginning. She does not use her shirt
So, when/how does all of this become an adult's need to have a napkin at hand throughout a meal, and as older people do to keep one on your person at all times? Is it self-consciousness that causes napkin use? Is there a neatness trigger that flips when a person leaves adolescence? Is it peer pressure? Whatever the cause I will keep up my fight for cleanliness in the hopes that someday my children will not leave the table with milk mustaches and greasy hands.