Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi, Carolyn: My husband and I went out to a nice restaurant last night with friends of ours and their 2-year-old son. He was a bit of a handful, and we got some not-so-friendly looks. Nothing extreme, just age-appropriate squirmy-ness in the wrong environment. I didn’t know what to do or say, and ended up pretty stressed by the end of the evening. For what it’s worth, I’m eight months pregnant with baby No. 1 and pretty sensitive in general these days.
Would it have been crossing a boundary for either me or my husband to just take the kid out for a walk? My mom suggested this, but I thought it could come across as awfully smug. What do you think? Or do you have any other ideas on how to deal with situations like this? Personally I don’t think I’d take a 2-year-old out to a nice restaurant in the first place, but it was their idea, and I can see the value in getting kids used to that kind of environment early on. Help!
Looking for Boundaries
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(1) There is no value in getting a 2-year-old used to that kind of environment. There is only the annoyance of diners who have expectations rightly as high as the restaurant’s prices. Family-friendly restaurants are where you teach kids restaurant manners.
(2) There was nothing you could do about their choice of venue; I’m just throwing it out there because you’re 2-ish years from being in your friends’ shoes.
(3) You could have offered to take the child for a walk, as your mom suggested. There are variables here, of course, and I’m sure there are parents who’d be offended just as there are friends who would make such an offer in an exasperated, judgy or condescending way. So much depends on the tone. But, when their friends offer nicely, with clearly helpful intent, to take a cranky, dinner-disrupting toddler temporarily off their hands, parents who don’t have a chip on their shoulders will typically accept with tears of gratitude in their eyes.
(4) Did I mention there’s no value in bringing toddlers to nice restaurants?
Hi, Carolyn: I’ve recently started dating a great guy who is, so far, very compatible with me. He let me know early on that he was married before and it ended only months into the marriage, but he seems very hesitant to give information about the specifics, and I’m not sure if it is appropriate to ask. We’re not “young” by any means, and I know we all have past experiences, but the more the subject gets avoided, the more my mind wanders into crazy scenarios (I know, I know). Do I bring it up or let it evolve naturally?
I think you say more or less what you said here, if the relationship continues to progress and he keeps deflecting: “We all have mileage, and your previous marriage doesn’t alarm me, but I have noticed how hesitant you are to talk about it.” Then leave room for him to respond. It’s not grilling, it’s merely propping open a door.
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