Robby is 10 years old and is in the fourth grade. He eats lunch at school because his parents work. His mother is worried: despite scolding him, she has been unable to get the boy to eat with his mouth closed.
He lives with his parents in a wooden room measuring three and a half meters wide by six meters long. There are two beds in that small space, a double bed and a single one, a rustic shelf for kitchen utensils, a refrigerator, and in a corner, a toilet. No room for a table. The family eats from dishes in their hands.
He doesn’t know when to use his hands or utensils, nor when to use either a spoon, a fork or a knife. Robby has never eaten in a restaurant. His parents don’t have enough money to eat out.
At school, the inexperience of his neophyte teacher prevents her from noticing the bad habits of her students when they sit down to lunch in the school cafeteria. So if nobody teaches them, how can children learn good table manners?
Poor education is not limited to table manners. In Cuba people no longer talk, they scream. They don’t discuss or apologize, they hit. There is no courtesy toward the elderly and women, with or without a child in their arms.
The problem with Robby is not an isolated case. The fault lies with both the old and new generations of Cubans. Surrounded by the daily vicissitudes, older individuals unconsciously forget to teach their children good manners. And the youngest, despite being literate and receiving a free education, don’t have the culture or the environment necessary to enable them to behave like civilized people.
Translated by: Tomás A. & Deliabell H.