Did you have dinner-table rules growing up? My parents had one super strict rule…

When we wanted to get down, we had to say, “May I please be excused?” And when our mom said yes, we had to say, “Thank you so much for the delicious dinner.”

Did you guys have to say that? I always assumed my parents made it up, but now I’ve realized lots of people said it during their childhoods, too. (And fifteen years later, I STILL catch myself saying it at restaurants; I’m forever thanking waiters for the delicious dinners:)

Our parents also had two other funny rules:

* One-finger rule in stores. When we were toddlers, we were allowed to touch anything at all in a shop — even wine glasses or ceramic vases — as long as we used just one finger.

* Maximum noise in tunnels. We’d often take road trips of a few hours to visit relatives. My parents told us that we had to make minimum noise during most of the trip, but whenever we drove through tunnels we had to make maximum noise! We’d all yell at the top of our lungs for the entire length.

When we were little, these rules just seemed fun, but, looking back, I see how genius they were: Our parents let us enjoy what felt like freedom, while still teaching us to be respectful and responsible. Well played, Mom and Dad!

What about you guys? Did you have lots of rules — at the dinner table or otherwise — when you were growing up? Or was it pretty relaxed? Do you have certain strict rules these days for your own kids?

P.S. French Kids Eat Everything, and 9 table manners for grown-ups.

(Painting by Norman Rockwell.)