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Girlfriends Guide To Family

Face It: Restaurants Don't Roll Out Welcome Mat for Kids

May 23, 1999|VICKI LOVINE

Dear Vicki: My husband and I kicked off the weekend by going out to a nice Italian restaurant. We took our 1-year-old son with us because, first, we couldn't get a sitter and, second, we both work and never see enough of him anyway. You'd have thought we'd led a gorilla into the dining room from the looks on people's faces. I might have understood if our little boy had been noisy or had had a tantrum, but he was perfectly charming. What's the big deal?



Dear Diner: Sit down. I have something serious to tell you: No one likes children in restaurants! At least not in restaurants that don't pass out crayons with the menu, announce your order over the microphone or cover the floors with sawdust.

I'm the mother of four perfectly charming (at least when they pool their resources) kids, and I wouldn't care if you'd had Shirley Temple with you, I'd question your judgment. Even a well-behaved child is still a child and, by definition, unable to sit for a full meal and refrain from kicking a sneaker against the booth bench or building a barnyard with all the silverware.

I'm not just being mean. There's also safety to think of--waiters carrying trays full of hot soup or chili con carne can't see people shorter than their knees.

Besides, you and your husband would undoubtedly have had more fun if you'd taken Friday night for your boyfriend-girlfriend relationship instead of your daddy-mommy one. I'm getting sick and tired of how guilty many of us feel for any moments devoted to childless activities.

Finally, kids don't really enjoy eating in restaurants. Sure, they like to tag along, but they don't like to play by Emily Post's rules for more than six minutes until they're about 6 years old. Ask yourself: If sitting quietly at a table is so groovy for kids, why did Ronald McDonald build climbing structures instead of valet parking?


Dear Vicki: My best friend, who lives 12 miles away, has still not dropped by to see my new baby--now 5 months old! She has called several times, but only to talk about her latest date or some office gossip, which I couldn't care less about. Whenever I start to tell her about Brittany, she sounds like she's dozing off. How true a friend can she be?


Dear Issues: I wouldn't have believed this if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, but babies can, indeed, be a stake in the heart of a great friendship. No one wants to admit it, but it's very common.

First, all new parents must realize that play-by-play accounts of nursing mishaps or the first rollover are interesting only to grandparents, other parents of a small child and your pediatrician.

After what you've gone through to hatch this beautiful baby, conversations about runs in expensive stockings or whether it's presumptuous to carry a condom in your coin purse sound like chatter from another planet. Or it can sound like nonsense (especially if you've not slept in a week!).

Be honest--aren't there times when you'd rather hear the juicy details of a dream date than recount what was on A&E while you were nursing between 2 and 6 a.m.? I'll bet the same odds apply to your girlfriend (and her nagging desire to commit to some adorable hunky guy and fall madly in love with her very own angel baby).

Either way, give each other a little more space to adjust and rediscover those parts of your friendship that didn't involve men or babies. If you come up with nothing, there probably isn't much to salvage. But if you giggle just thinking of the last time you two shopped for bathing suits, then dig in and save your precious gift.

P.S. Don't wait for your girlfriend to suggest coming over to meet the baby. Go for broke and tell her that your baby girl is the most astonishing thing that's ever happened in your life. Who knows, she may turn out to be the baby's most treasured "auntie."

Vicki Iovine is the harried author of the "Girlfriends' Guide," a columnist for Child magazine, and mother of four. Every Sunday she'll answer questions about family, parenting and relationships. Write to her at Girlfriends, SoCal Living, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053; e-mail Please include name and phone number. Questions cannot be answered individually, and no telephone calls, please.

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