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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 Can’t Miss Fall Festivals in New England - 2017

Prev Next

September 9 & 10

RI Seafood Festival at India Point Park

Providence, RI 

The Rhode Island Seafood Festival is an annual event, which started in 2011, that brings together the best local sellers of seafood and other fine fare as well as beer, wine and spirits from Ocean State producers.

The festival includes live music, great food and much more. 

The festival will go from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Prev Next

September 10

3rd Annual Ocean State Beer Festival 

South Kingstown, RI 

The third annual Ocean State Beer Festival will take place at Whalers Brewing Company in South Kingstown. 

The festival will feature beer from breweries around Rhode Island. 

The festival is hosted by the Rhode Island Brewer’s Guild. 

Prev Next

September 12

Phantom Gourmet Food Festival

Boston, MA

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.

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September 15-17

Wormtown Music Festival at Camp Keewanee

Greenfield, MA

A three-day long concert featuring bands such as The Alchemystics (pictured), a community bonfire, craft vendors and more.

Kids 15 and under are FREE to the event. 

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September 15-17

Misquamicut Fall Festival

Misquamicut Beach, RI 

The 2017 Misquamicut Fall Festival features live music from John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band and other local bands. 

The festival will also feature a car show, crafts, food truck rodeo and much more. 

Parking is free. 

Prev Next

September 15 - October 1

The Big E 

West Springfield, MA

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

Sample food and enjoy rides, games, horse shows, historical exhibits and more. 

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September 15 -16

2017 Fitchburg Greek Festival at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

Fitchburg, MA 

The 2017 Festival begins at on Friday, September 15 from 5 p.m.to 10 p.m. and continues on Saturday, September 16 from 11 am. to 10 p.m.

The festival will feature an outdoor bar area, a menu including Mezedes, Greek BBQ, and pastries, vendors, music, and dance. 

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September 23

Ocean State Oyster Festival at Riverwalk Park

Providence, RI

The Ocean State Oyster Festival hopes to raise awareness and celebrate RI’s aquaculture industry. 

The festival will take place on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Providence. 

The festival will feature fine local food, beer, wine, and refreshments, local bands & DJs, activities for kids, culinary exhibitors, educational exhibits, a shucking contest. 

Purchasing a general admission ticket gets you a half dozen oysters and an ice cold craft beer of your choice.

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September 23 & 24

KidsFest 2017 at Wachusett Mountain

Wachusett Mountain, MA 

The festival runs from 10 a.m. on the 23rd to 5 p.m. on the 24th.

It will include entertainment such as a BMX Bike Show, Rainforest Reptile Shows Inc., and a Baby Animal Petting Zoo.

There will also be sample skiing and a USA Ninja Warrior Challenge Course. 

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September 29 -30

Harpoon Octoberfest at Harpoon Brewery 

Boston, MA

Octoberfest will feature beer, bratwursts, chicken dancing, and more as Harpoon celebrates 28 years of Octoberfest. 

Entrance to the festival is $25 and includes a souvenir pint glass and your first beer. 

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September 30

Burke Mountain Fall Foliage Festival

Burke, Vermont

The Burke Mountain Fall Foliage Festival is one of the biggest festivals of the year in Vermont.

Events at the festival include a parade which begins at 10 a.m., a farm animal petting zoo, horse-drawn carriage rides, a beer and wine tent open from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. and live music by Tritium Well from 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. 

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October 5 - November 5

Roger Williams Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular 

Providence, RI

This annual event, created by artists and craftsmen of Passion for Pumpkins, and features 5,000 illuminated jack-o-lanterns, with over 125 of them artistically carved and displayed in scenes to play out the annual theme. 

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October 6-8

Freeport Fall Festival 

Freeport, Maine

The festival will feature more than 130 artists showing off their work ranging from photography oil, watercolor, mixed media and much more.

The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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October 7

International Oktoberfest at Bold Point Park 

East Providence, RI 

International Oktoberfest will take place over Columbus Day weekend at Bold Point Park. 

The festival will include seasonal beer, German cuisine, and live music. 

Prev Next

October 7-8

Annual Fall Festival Weekend - Sunday River

Newry, Maine 

The annual Fall Festival Weekend welcomes the start of a new season with live music every day, a crafts fair and some friendly competition. 

That competition includes the 17th Annual North American Wife Carrying Competition where teams will compete and winners will receive the wife's weight in beer and five times her weight in cash.


PHOTO: Sunday River

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October 7-9

Columbus Day Festival on Federal Hill

Providence, RI 

The annual Columbus Day Festival on Federal Hill is ready to take place once again featuring three days of Italian music, food and entertainment. 

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October 14

8th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration at Patriots Place 

Foxboro, MA 

The day is filled with fall activities for all ages including hayrides, pumpkin painting, live music, and more. 

The celebration runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Prev Next

October 14

9th Annual New Hampshire Brewfest at Redhook Ale Brewery 

Portsmouth, NH

The New Hampshire Brewfest will feature more than 150 beers from over 50 brewers. 

Admission includes entry to the session specified on your ticket, 5oz souvenir sampling cup, beer samples, and live music and festivities

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October 20-29

2017 Vermont International Film Festival 

Burlington, Vermont

The 2016 Vermont International Film Festival is set to take place from October 20 to October 29. 

The festival will feature films from all over the world. 

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October 22

King Richards Faire 

Carver, Massachusetts

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 started on September 2 through October 22


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