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Miss Dora Baggins' Book of Manners  by Dreamflower


It needs to be said that the rearing of children is mostly a matter of good common Hobbit-sense; unfortunately, such Hobbit-sense is not nearly so common as it ought to be, and in some Families may even be said to be in short supply!

Children are Blessings and Treasures, as any fond parent knows. They are also far more durable than some new young parents think. Many young Mothers are hesitant to allow the Fathers to hold their children, or the Fathers are reluctant to do so, as they somehow fear they might break the babe. This is highly unlikely. As long as the head is supported, and the child is not Dropped upon its head, it cannot but be a Good Thing for a Father to hold and cuddle his child. And the Mother is likely to find that her own life will be much smoother and more comfortable if she shares the child with its Father.

This means, of course, that he should also be willing to share the less pleasant tasks associated with babies. I shall not go into Unpleasant Detail, but Fathers should also do their share of cleaning the messes their offspring make!

It is usual for a first child to share the bed of its Parents until it nears faunthood. A child needs the closeness and cuddling that such will bring. However, it is better for younger children to share the beds of their older siblings once they are weaned. This contributes to proper Family Feeling among the brothers and sisters, and helps to avoid unseemly fighting and bickering when they are older. (Not that such will ever be completely avoided. For arguments among siblings are an inevitable part of Life. Nevertheless, such disagreements will be far less annoying if the children are truly fond of one another.)

In spite of this, a babe should also have a cradle or crib, for naps during the day, and for those nights when the parents may wish a bit of Privacy. I will say no more of that Subject.

In some of the Great Families, it is not uncommon to have a Nursemaid. While there are good reasons for this--for after all the duties of the Head of a Family and his wife may make constant attendance on their child difficult--it is not to be considered a substitute for the Proper Affection a parent should show the child. A Nursemaid’s duties should never usurp the duties of the Mother and Father. And for families who are lower upon the Roll, or for parents whose position is less lofty among the Great Families, it is sheer Presumption and Ostentation to engage a Nursemaid. For those Occasions when a parent must for some reason be unable to attend their own child, remember: that is what Aunts, Uncles and Cousins are for. In return a parent who receives such favors should be willing in return to attend their own Nieces, Nephews and Cousins.

When a child is a month old, it is a common practice to have a Naming Day. While gifts may be brought by the Guests, the main purpose of the Naming Day is to introduce the child to the other members of the Family, and to enter the child’s name into the Family Book. This is properly done by the Head of the Family and in his (or in the case of a Widow, her) presence. However, if the parents and child live at an inconvenient distance from the Ancestral Home, then the occasion may be bypassed, and the Head may very properly enter the name in the Book without their presence.

Still, if at all possible, a Naming Day is an Occasion not to be avoided. It will be the first of many times that a child will be among all the various and extended members of the Family. One cannot begin too early the task of acquainting a child with his or her Family Tree, and his or her Proper Place in that same Family Tree.

The next Occasion of a child’s Life is his or her third Birthday, when he or she becomes a Faunt. While a child may be walking and talking a bit before that time, this is the Occasion when those Accomplishments are Acknowledged.

This is a very special event in a child’s Life, though he or she is unlikely to remember it unless older relatives make a point of reminding the child of what happened on that day.

During a child’s infancy, and up until faunthood, gifts Received by the child are given directly to the parent on the day before his or her Birthday, and, as the child does not become a faunt until the actual Birthday, this Occasion is no different.

The most important thing which occurs upon the child’s Birthday, of course, is the giving of the First Gifts. During a child’s faunthood, the Gifts are given only to the parents. The usual way of it is for an older Sibling, Cousin, Aunt or Uncle, to take the child out early in the morning immediately after first breakfast for the gathering of the Gift. Normally this will be wild flowers, picked by the child. However, it is not unknown for the child to decide that an attractive stone, or oddly shaped stick or some other item, is a more appropriate present. This impulse should not be denied, though if the child wishes to give something truly loathsome or noxious, he or she can be distracted and steered to a more attractive alternative. Toads or insects are inappropriate, and while an older Brother might find the prospect of his younger Sibling presenting such a thing to the parents a source of Humor, he should resist the Temptation. He is unlikely to care for the outcome, for the faunt will not be the one to bear the blame.

After the gathering of the Gift, the child will then return home and give the Present to the parents at second breakfast. It is wise for the parents to make much of this Gift, and to praise the child lavishly. Thus he or she will learn early that it is better to Give than to Receive. It is usual for the Mother to keep some of the blooms, and press them, and preserve them in a Keepsake Book or Box. In later years, she can show them to the child and recount how happy the Gift made her, and how proud she was of her child.

A child’s faunthood lasts for two years, from age Three to age Five. It is during this time that the Rudiments of Good Manners must be taught. While it is thought amusing for children to sometimes speak Unpleasant Truths which adults do not, for politeness’ sake utter, this is a habit which should not be indulged. For remember that the first Principal of Respectability is Kindness, and pointing out the shortcomings of others is Unkind. A child is unlikely to realize this unless taught.

This does not mean the child should be taught to lie. He or she should however, learn to save questions about others of a Personal Nature for when he or she may ask the Parent privately. And they should also be taught to keep unkind thoughts to themselves. . Some children do not realize this, even with careful teaching, and will blurt out the first thing to come into their minds. In these cases, distraction is probably the best course, for both the child and the Person whom the child has offended

These are also the years when a child should begin to learn the importance of Respecting Food. A child is by its very nature hungry, and Hobbit children are seldom picky, as I have heard rumor of the Children of Other Races. If they have a true dislike of a food, then they should not be forced to eat it, once they have at least tried it. This is unlikely--even if they heartily dislike it prepared in one form, they may like it prepared another way. But they should learn that Food Is Not a Toy, and that it is to be eaten at regular mealtimes. They also need to learn to Share and not to Snatch. It is as well, if one has several children, for the parents to serve each child’s plate--this insures that each child gets a Fair Share, and that none must do without. It is normal at this age for a child to eat three helpings at a meal, but if the weather is too warm or a child is too tired, then they may stop at only two, or even one. If a child pleads no Hunger at all, then it is time to call a Healer.

Faunts are very prone to Unpredictability. As they are just learning to speak and to walk, they take full advantage of any moment of distraction to dart off or to get into things which they should not. At this age, they still do not understand this is Wrong, nor why. Explanations are useless. They need to be firmly stopped from any such activity with a firm “No!” and then distracted from doing it again. Food is an excellent distraction, as are toys and music.

Faunts are just beginning to learn how to dress themselves. For some Unfathomable Reason, they learn how to undress themselves more quickly. This can be a problem. It is most embarrassing to a parent to have a child remove his or her garments in public. This needs to be firmly discouraged.

Faunts are also learning to control certain Bodily Functions. One side effect of this learning is a tendency to boast of this dubious Accomplishment. Parents should not overpraise this, or once more, embarrassing and Unpredictable events may occur. It is best to get this stage of training over with as quickly as possible. There are a number of tried and true methods, and a young and inexperienced Mother would do well to seek the advice of her own Mother or Aunts for the best methods used in her family.

As the child nears the end of his or her Faunthood, he or she should be speaking properly and eating meals without mishap. He or she should also have learned to say “Please”, “Thank you” and “At your service”.

The child should be ready, by the eve of the Fifth Birthday, to leave this stage of Life behind and enter Childhood.

Questions which are often asked about infancy and faunthood:

What if the Mother does not survive the birth of her babe?

In this terribly Unfortunate Circumstance, it is best to find an Aunt or female Cousin who has recently given birth, and ask her to share her Bounty. In this case the child who must share his or her Mother would be the other child’s milk-brother or milk-sister, a circumstance which can lead to very close Family Ties. Only if there is no available Blood Relative to take on this sad duty should an outsider be engaged.

What if the child is born with a Problem?

This too, is a sad Circumstance. Oftentimes the poor wee thing does not survive his or her first few months. However, sometimes the child does survive, and such children can often prove singular blessings, as they often seem to be even more affectionate and sweet-natured than other Children.

In such Event, it behooves the rest of the Family to rally around and help to take care of the distraught parents.

How does one deal with the jealousy of an older sibling when the younger child is born?

This is Normal. However, it is to be discouraged. Fortunately such a stage does not often last long. Such jealousy may be discouraged in two ways-- the parents should give much attention to the older child so that he or she will not feel the new baby has Usurped his or her place in the Family, and also encourage the older child to take care of and feel protective toward the younger. These feelings of protectiveness, luckily, come naturally to most children, and once the babe is old enough to cuddle with them and sleep with them the jealousy soon disappears.

How does one teach one’s child to Talk?

By talking to him or her, of course. It will sort itself out naturally, and usually when the child wants something enough the first word will emerge, most frequently “Mama” or “Da”.

Why do faunts say “No!” so often?

This simply seems to be the Nature of a child at this age. They are learning to do things for themselves, and they have not yet learned Obedience, and so they frequently test their parents’ Patience with these vociferous denials.

What is the best way to deal with a temper tantrum?

Hobbit children are not prone to these for the most part. If a child is normally biddable and good-natured, and then suddenly has a fit of screaming and crying because he or she has been denied something, it is well to seek the reason: he or she may be over-tired or fearful for some reason. In such cases a nap may be in order, or the source of the fear removed.

However a child who makes a habit of these displays is in serious danger of becoming spoiled. On no account should you give in to such a child, and the best way to deal with such behavior is to put the child in a corner and ignore as best you can, the Bad Behavior. Sooner or later it will come to an end.


The new parent should not fear their babe. By following the above Advice, and the Advice of Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and older Cousins, raising a new baby can be a Delightful Experience.



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