The students practice listening without interrupting, the boys learn to help seat the girls before themselves, and elbows are absolutely not tolerated on the table.
It’s the how-to-eat-with-fork-and-knife lesson, and I’m pretty sure someone’s about to lose an eye. Cutlery is waving everywhere, and I realize Lynn is even braver than I thought. We Americans use the “zigzag” method, switching our forks between hands to cut and then spear our food. The rest of the world practices Continental style, keeping an upside-down fork and holding onto the knife while eating. The students practice both; Mrs. Araki-Regan wants them prepared to dine anywhere.
In the cacophony of clings and clangs, as bits of baby carrot are shooting off plates in all directions, a triumphant cheer erupts, “I did it! I cut my carrot!” By the end of the class, most kids are keeping their napkins on their laps, successfully carving their practice cucumbers and gracefully eating peas.
Lynn’s son, Riley, attends the classes, too. (He tells me he busted his dad for playing a video game at the dining table that week.)