The daily struggle to transform my 10-year-old from a bundle of raw nerves and bubble gum to a kid who chews with her mouth closed and doesn’t interrupt adult conversation makes me wonder how Jackie Kennedy’s parents managed to raise such a sophisticated woman.
With her perfect posture and pillbox hats, Jackie epitomized elegance and class. Everything she did was refine, even that annoying whispery voice. And her parents, my guess, never had to endure anything close to what I did the other day when during lunch at a Thai restaurant Savannah discovered a loose tooth. Obsessed with pulling the sucker, I was forced to hear progress reports throughout the meal accompanied with close-ups of the bloody gum.
By the time the check arrived, the tooth had ben extracted and blood was dripping out of the side of her mouth vampire style. She then stuffed wads of napkins into the left cheek to soak up the bloody mess.
“You need a doctor?” the Thai waitress asked in broken English.
“I lost a tooth,” Savannah boasted. Then, being unsophisticated as possible, pulled the corner of her mouth back to expose the raw gum. Nice.
The waitressed winced. Does this mean I need to leave a big tip?
“You sure you don’t need a doctor?”
My guess is that the rich short-circuit these problems by passing the challenge of raising well-mannered children to nannies and butlers. “Alfred, please tell Jackie not to extract her teeth at the table,” is so much more efficient than having to put an extra buck on the table.
A decade out now, I’m convinced that teaching a child manners has less to do with parenting skills and more with one’s ability to compete in endurance sports, like triathlons or swimming the English Channel. It’s a long, tiresome road. And let’s be honest, how many people have actually made the 21-miles swim from England to France?