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Newport Manners & Etiquette: The Miraculous Magic of Toddler Etiquette, Decoding Xs, + More

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Deciphering the X and O closings in texts and emails, pining over an ex-lover, old fashion car door manners and the stupefying magic of toddler etiquette were subjects of questions to Didi Lorillard this week at NewportManners.

The miraculous magic of toddler étiquette

Q. This is a question about toddler etiquette and not about parenting. Some parents are out of control about letting their small child act out their feelings and rights as a free spirit, but then what? The toddler gets out of control.  AJ, Foster, RI

A. Toddler étiquette is an established code of behavior for being in the company of others. It is not about role modeling or unconditional love. Nor is it about setting boundaries that compromise their unalienable rights. Do prep work. Let the child know what to expect. Sit down on the floor with your toddler, make eye contact, and talk to him or her about the adventure they are about to undertake on a playdate with another toddler, at a birthday party, or on a visit to the grandparents at Thanksgiving. 
Here are basic tips to prepare your toddler:

  • Hitting: Be nice. No grabbing, hitting, spitting, kicking or biting. If you've ever spent time with a toddler you know that they don't hit only once, they'll repetitively hit that stick at least ten to twelve times until they're calmed. Most often, physically taking the hitter out of the room gives you both a chance to change the channel in her/his brain.
  • Annoying: When a child is being obnoxious there's not much you can do but let it play out until he decides it is boring to be annoying.
  • Snacking: Snacks should be divided into separate containers (cups, plates, bowls) to avoid a possible tantrum from a grabbing fellow hoarder. 
  • Sharing: Toys should be shared, but if a toddler isn't ready to give up his favorite truck it may mean that he isn't ready to understand the concept. Distract with other toys.
  • Dancing and singing always change the tone, so turn on and turn up music.
  • Eating: When they're ready to experiment with flatware and new foods, they'll become curious if they see utensils and different foods often. The worst things you can say are, "Look at how nicely Jack uses his fork," or "Wow, watch Serena lovingly eating her broccoli trees."



At Thanksgiving and other holiday get-togethers with adults, your toddler will vie for your attention. If you're not keeping a watchful eye and she or he does something wrong -- like hurting someone or her/himself or breaking something -- it is all YOUR fault.

  • Disruptive: Again, extract and distract your toddler. When you're alone with her/him, sit down together and while making eye contact, gently explain to her/him the consequences of exactly what s/he did that you didn't like.
  • Snobbery: Don't allow your toddler to be a snob. A child who snubs by ignoring and refusing to talk to someone who is trying to make contact and connect. Selective hearing is not a social skill and shouldn't be tolerated. It is disrespectful and unfriendly. If s/he doesn't like Uncle Tom's pipe tobacco breath, then s/he can stand back and talk to him nicely by answering a question before moving away.
  • Potty training: Don't use food to bribe a toddler to sit on the potty. Keep a surprise small toy -- a poop prize -- on hand for after s/he's used the potty. Make it a reward for not having had an accident. While potty training in someone else's home, keep her/him close by, even if you have to put her/him on your lap.
  • Bedtime: Stay on her/his sleep schedule to avoid a melt down.


Ultimately, you want your toddler around people who exude Good Vibes Only. Keep your toddler away from bitter, grouchy relatives.

Decoding kisses

Q. Tell us Didi, if you wouldn't kiss someone in real life, then why would you add kisses at the end of a text, IM or email? Most of my friends end their messages with x or xx or xxx, but I wouldn't kiss most of them when coming face to face.  SP, Cambridge, MA

A. The more Xs the more intense the relationship. Two kisses for friendship and three for an expression of love. XOXO are kisses and hugs. Also:

  • XX can stand for kiss kiss and also bye bye. 
  • xXx represents a small kiss on the left cheek, a big smack on the lips followed by a small kiss on the right cheek.
  • XXX can mean that the person is straight edge, as in I went to this party and did not drink because I'm straight edge XXX.


But be wary of using XXX which can mean your message could be blocked by pornographic controls. 

  • And, yet, could also signal that the sender doesn't smoke, drink or do drugs. Sometimes even abstinence from sex and/or advocates vegetarianism.

The chivalry of opening car doors

Q.  Does anyone ever open a car door for another person anymore? Is it still done? Would I be remiss or dorky by not running around to open my date's car door?
WG, Bar Harbor, ME

A.  You would have to race to see who undoes their seatbelt first. The only time anyone ever opens my car door is when I valet park. He deserves a tip when he brings me back my car. 

The etiquette goes back to when ladies exited horse drawn carriages while managing layers of a long skirt with petticoat as they jumped to the ground. It was useful to have a gallant companion there to lend a hand. 
In many cases, the doors of early cars were inordinately heavy, often stuck, and difficult to open. 

The need for another person to lend a convenient hand or have the strength to open a heavy door no longer exists. 

Pining over unrequited love

Q. Since my ex and I broke up, I can't seem to love any other guy. I can't get him out of my head. Every time I have sex with a new guy, the last thing he does makes me want to break off the relationship. Most often or perhaps all the time, they come back begging but I would have already moved on in less than a week and the process continuous as I look for love.  GB, Yaounde, Cameroon

A. You must not waste any more time mooning over someone who does not want to be with you. Please find a professional to talk to about your feelings.

Talking about your heartbreak with someone who is trained to listen will perhaps lessen the pain of anxiety. 

If that's not possible, write a letter to your ex telling him how you feel about him and the breakup, but do NOT mail the letter. Hide the letter. When you're feeling extremely sad, take out the letter and reread it. Eventually, you will stop reading the letter.

Time heals most wounds of the heart. Take up Yoga or some such healing as a way of clearing your mind.

Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners for her forthcoming book.


Related Slideshow: 20 Things to Look Forward to This Fall in New England - 2017

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The Changing of the Leaves

One of the cool things about the fall season is the leaves on the trees and the colors that they change too.

According to smokeymountain.com, prime foliage season in New England is late September into early October.

Look forward to an enjoyable walk around the neighborhood and see how many different colors you can pick out, or just enjoy the beauty.

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Pumpkin Picking

The fall season signifies the return of pumpkins. Pumpkin beer, pumpkin pie and most of all pumpkin picking.

Pumpkin picking is a timeless event for families, especially those with young kids who will love to just run around and grab whichever pumpkin looks good to them.

Jaswell's Farm or Barden Family Orchard are great places to get started.

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The Big E 

The Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts features a circus spectacular, Mardi Gras parade, agricultural competitions, arts & crafts, food contests, live music, and midway. 

The Big runs from September 15 to October 1. 

Click here for more information

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Great Pumpkin Festival 

The Great Pumpkin Festival at the EcoTarium in Worcester is a must attend this fall in New England. 

The event features more than 1000 carved pumpkins, live entertainment, family fun with trick-or-treating, displays and more.

Click here for more information

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Sam Adams Octoberfest Beer

One of the fun things about the changing of seasons is the changing of beer flavors and with fall comes Sam Adams Octoberfest.

The Oktoberfest idea was born in 1810 when Munich celebrated the Crown Prince's wedding with a 16-day party with a special beer.

Sam Adams builds off of that idea with a beer that is perfect for the season.

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Phantom Gourmet Food Festival

The Phantom Gourmet Food Festival is an event to look forward too and it will be held on September 12 from 12- 4 p.m. on two streets next to Fenway Park.

Tickets are $40 in advance and online and will go up to $50 at the event.

The ticket includes sampling 100 of Phantom's foods from hot dogs and pizza to pulled pork and more. Beer and wine will be served on the street.

Get more information here.

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The New England Patriots Return

The NFL returns and that means the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots are back. 

The Patriots have won two of the last three Super Bowls and are heavily favored to win another this season. 

The Patriots kick off their season on Thursday, September 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs. 

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Apple Picking

A great fall family event, especially those with young kids, is apple picking.

Nothing more fun than grabbing the nicest looking apple that you can find, giving it a quick wash off and then biting into it. Delicious.

Farm Fresh Rhode Island and Phantom Farm are two great places to go and pick yourself some apples in Rhode Island.

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Columbus Day Festival on Federal Hill

Filled with great music and even better food, the Columbus Day Festival is a fall event to look forward to every season.

The feast will take place from October 7 through October 9. 

Click here for more information.

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Fall Boat Ride to Block Island

Though the summer weather is winding down, there is still great weather coming and great opportunities to get on the ferry and head over to Block Island for the day, or maybe even multiple days.

Fall trips to Block Island are something to look forward too.

Click here for more information.

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Wearing Fleece

For those nights, or days, where it's just a bit cooler out, there is nothing more comfortable than throwing on a fleece jacket and settling in for a fun day ahead.

The arrival of fall means it's time to start breaking those jackets out.

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Drinking Apple Cider

Can't you already taste it? The sweet taste of apple cider returns with the fall season.

Head over to your local market and buy some, or maybe you know how to make your own or have your own recipe. Either way, drinking apple cider is something to look forward too.

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Attend Waterfire in Providence

Summer may be nearing the end, but Waterfire 

Waterfire is the premiere event in Providence and if you haven't gotten to one yet during the summer or fall season, now is the time to plan.

Waterfire is a great night out with different vendors, music and other entertainment lining the city streets while the river is lit up by the fire. For a really romantic and fun night, hop on a gondola ride.

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The Return of Your Favorite TV Shows

One of the down sides of summer is that there is very little to watch on TV as far as new shows go. Thank goodness for Netflix and or HBO on demand.

However, the return of the fall season means the return of all the popular TV shows like Gotham, Game of Thrones, Arrow and several others.

Look forward to having something to watch at night after a long day at work.

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Who's not looking forward to Halloween? Not looking forward to dressing up as your favorite character or as just a very spooky looking person and going out and collecting candy to last you days, months and longer.

Who isn't looking to forward to decorating their houses to make it the creepiest house on the block.

Halloween is great for kids and adults alike and is certainly something to look forward to.

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Great Golf Weather Remaining

The end of Summer does not mean the end of golf season.

The fall is a great time of year for golfing at Harbor Lights or any of the courses across the state.  

The fall offers some of the best golfing weather of the year, not too hot and not too cold. 

Golf season has not left.

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Harpoon Brewery Oktoberfest in Boston

Harpoon Brewery will hold their 27th annual Octoberfest from September 29 through September 30. 

The event will feature Harpoon brews, bratwursts, chicken dancing and German chocolate cake eating contests as well as Oompah music.

Harpoon Brewery is located at 306 Northern Ave in Boston.

Click here for more information or for tickets.

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Roger Waters at TD Garden 

One of the musical highlights of the fall season is rock n' roll legend Roger Waters coming to Boston's TD Garden. 

The former Pink Floyd star will play two shows in Boston, the first on Wednesday, September 27 and the second on Thursday, September 28. 

Click here for more information 

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King Richards Faire 

Dive into history at King Richard's Faire, New England's oldest and largest Renaissance Festival and most beloved annual fall event. Dress up, play games and learn a lot at a fair that is a great fall event for the entire family.

The Fair runs from September 2 through October 22. 

Click here for more information 

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Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo

What better way to spend a fall evening than strolling through Roger Williams Park Zoo and viewing some cool Jack-O-Lanterns. 

The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park is a Rhode Island and New England Fall staple featuring thousands of illuminated pumpkins from October 5 to November 5 with admission from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. 

Click here for more information 


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