“Don’t talk like that at the table!” “Mind your manners!”

Ugh. Sometimes, I tire of explaining to my four sons that the topics of conversation that might come up at the school cafeteria are NOT what we will be discussing at our dinner table at home.

Until the other night.

I decided to cave and just see how far the dinner conversation would go into testosterone territory if I let the boys just be boys and I quit reminding them to “mind their manners.”

That’s assuming they have learned some manners along the way, right?

At my house, there’s definitely no talk of intricate YouTube hair braiding tricks, crafts involving glitter, shoe shopping, or manicure parties. That would be speaking a foreign language in our house where I’m the only girl.

The convo around the table the other night went more like this: Teenagers talking about facial hair. Sideburns. Mullets. Mustaches. Baldness.

“Dad, you should grow a beard.” “Gross, there’s all kinds of bacteria in beards – more than in toilets.” “Oh yeah? Well there are more bacteria in a kiss than in a toilet. Think about THAT for awhile.”

Ew. Lets NOT think about that. And lets make sure Dad does NOT EVER grow a beard.

Then there are the annoying sound effects. Raindrop noises. Armpit farts. Burping words – or entire paragraphs. More raindrop noises. Sigh.

Don’t forget body tricks. Like talking belly buttons. Ear wiggling. Shooting air out of tear ducts. Kids! Don’t do this! Just… why?!?

And then there’s just the mere mention of bodily functions that makes the little boys giggle. Like boogers. Slobber. Farts. Puke. Poop.

Top it off with some exchanges that predict the presence of future full tuition college scholarships recipients…

“Stop touching me!! You’re a pain in the butt!” “Hey, I didn’t even touch your butt!”

Don’t get me wrong. I love my boys. I love being a boy mom. I love Star Wars trilogies. Endless hours of football. Legos. Tractors. I think I have even seen all the Terminator and Rocky movies. I am definitely familiar with every super-hero in recent history. I’ve even been known to encourage stomping in mud puddles.

But you know what I really love? I love it when my boys smile. Giggle. Make silly jokes. Laugh at their own ridiculous fake laughs. Clutch their tummies in pain from laughing so hard.

I love it when we sit around the kitchen table for a meal whether it’s steak and potatoes on matching table settings, or hot dogs and beans over paper plates after a crazy busy summer day.

I just love the togetherness. It’s a gift. It’s a blessing. It’s not perfect. It’s not even well mannered sometimes. But it’s us. And it’s real.

And sometimes there are days when forgetting our manners at the dinner table for the sake of a good belly laugh is ok. We’ll work on those table manners tomorrow.

Diane Karr

Diane Karr lives on a family farm in south central Nebraska with her husband and four sons. Besides chasing after her busy boys and the farm, she volunteers as a church organist. Diane graduated from UNL in 1996 as an agribusiness major, shares stories about farm life at RealFarmWifeOnTheCountyLine.com, and is a volunteer for CommonGround Nebraska. She also enjoys Husker football, hazelnut lattes, cooking and baking, boating, photography, and spending time with family and friends.