Q. My friend and I have our three-year-olds signed up for a class together each week. The class meets at 11 am, so by the time the kids are finished, we’re all ready for lunch. Lately, we’ve been going to a casual, but crowded, restaurant after class.
Each time we do this, I leave feeling really embarrassed. We’re a big group: two adults, two toddlers, and two infants who are just along for the ride. I try really hard to make sure my kids are seated and relatively quiet. They’re not perfect, but I’m really trying!
My friend, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be worried about the noise or mess her kids make. Her oldest is constantly getting up from the table and running off, which encourages my child to do the same. And her kids are just so loud! Someone’s either singing or screaming the whole time. I can feel other people watching us, and I’ve noticed the hostess is starting to seat us in the back, separate from everyone else as much as possible.
I really enjoy seeing my friend, but these outings are embarrassing! Is there a way to politely ask her to control her kids in a restaurant setting?
Thanks for any advice you can offer!
I’m not gonna lie: that’s a tough spot. You’ve got a friendship to maintain, and you’re both in the habit of expecting this lunch date that’s obviously making you uncomfortable!
Here’s the thing: you really can’t tell your friend to “control her kids,” and you can’t do it for her. But you do have a few options:
- Before you enter the restaurant or when you’re first seated, talk to your kids about expectations for behavior and hope that your friend’s kids overhear you. Try something like this: “Okay Aiden, I know you’re really excited to see Rob, but we’re at a restaurant, so we need to stay sitting in our chairs and use quiet, inside voice.” Even if all the kids aren’t hearing you, your friend probably will, and she might take the hint that you’re actually talking to her kids too.
- You could talk to your friend about your concerns without singling out her kids. If you explain that you’re uncomfortable with the big kids running around and being loud without calling anyone in particular out, you’ll be able to gauge her response: is she not noticing the dirty looks and the restaurant staff’s attempts to segregate you from the lunch crowd? Or does she not hold her kids to the same standard as you? If it’s the former, you and your friend could brainstorm ways to keep the kids seated and engaged in a quiet activity, or pick a truly kid-friendly restaurant (think: McDonalds, Chick-fil-A, or another establishment with an indoor playground!). If it’s the latter, and it really bothers you…
- Stop going to lunch. If none of the solutions above work for you, you might need to back away from the weekly lunch date. Maybe your infant needs to take her afternoon nap at that time (wink, wink)? Or maybe you enjoy your friend’s company so much that you’d prefer to save the money for a time when the two of you could grab dinner without the little ones?
Hope that help, Kirsten! You definitely have some options :)
More on Modern Manners for Moms & Dads