My Roving Band of Barbarians

We have been having a blast traveling around Europe and England since March for my husband’s dissertation research. It’s academic tourism at it’s finest; the kids and I have been enjoying ourselves immensely, taking on Europe by triple stroller. The drawback is, amid this foot-loose and fancy free adventure, we’ve been quite antisocial and apparently have forgotten our manners. And the English are not especially charmed by children who have forgotten their manners.

Cute barbarians in London

We are now passing through Oxford on our way to settle for the final four months of our travels in Cambridge. Thanks to Mrs. C., a part-time resident here, we have been introduced to several awesome new friends. Awesome, like I hope we’ll be friends always even though I’ve only met them twice.

But now that we have friends again, the manners problem is becoming quite apparent in one particular area: I had trained my children not to interrupt me when talking to another adult (and I admit I do really get going in adult conversations, so that took some real patience and self-discipline on their parts). Now, if I’m sitting on the ground talking to a friend and don’t pay attention as soon as my child calls me, my child literally throws her entire body onto my head, tackles me onto my back, then presses her face up against mine as I lie stunned on the ground and states her request. Even my angelic and extremely-respectful five year old Bella does this. It’s happened several times a day recently, in varied but equally-outlandish forms.

Could someone please remind me how to begin from scratch teaching a five year old, four year old, and two year old not to interrupt adults? What works for you? It’s an ongoing area of training, I know. I hazily remember a tried and failed system of having them put one hand on my knee and wait until I was ready to respond to them, but I think this often turned into their using my knee as a drum. I don’t know how I got this under control before, but we have an uphill battle ahead. Onward!

  • Kat

    I love this, JM, it's such a great glimpse into your life in England! Your little ones are very cute – I'm glad that they're having such a great time on your European adventure :) I don't have any great advice with this particular issue, other than be consistent with whatever method you choose to use. Just thinking off the top of my head…What if you took whatever child wants your attention into your arms or lap until you're finished with your conversation, so that at least he/she knows that you're paying attention to him/her on some level. I've also asked Maria (toddler) to “count to 20 and then mommy will be ready,” and I'll interrupt my conversation for a minute once she's done counting to hear what she has to say. Let me know what works!


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