Going out to dinner with a post-bedtime toddler



Dear Carolyn:

My son is 20 months old. He is an absolute joy, but not in a great phase for going to restaurants, which is totally normal. We pick family-friendly places, tip 30 percent and I try to be really cognizant of not ruining the meals of other patrons.

My husband doesn’t really care, to the level I think is appropriate, about our son’s behavior in public. I hate dining out because I don’t get to enjoy it at all.

This week, he arranged with his best friend for our families to have dinner at a restaurant at 7:30 despite my plea for casual carryout at our house. They have a baby. Our son goes to bed around 6:30, because he is a complete terror after that.

My husband thinks “it’s fine if he stays up late one night.” I think this is going to result in me having a miserable night chasing my son around a crowded restaurant. I had a terrible week at work, an already exhausting week at home, and a funeral viewing. I suggested he just go without me and our son, but he said that completely defeated the point of socializing with our friends as two couples.

I would LOVE to socialize with our friends, but this is not going to happen with a toddler an hour-plus past bedtime.

I don’t want to be a jerk and put my foot down and stay home. I don’t want to be a shrew and pester my husband to participate in shrieking-child-wrangling at dinner. I don’t want to let my kid run wild and unfettered as a manipulative “I told you so.” Any suggestions? It’s not really about my kid, but how to deal with my husband.

— Impending Tantrum

Baby! Sitter! Please!

“I told you so” unfettering can get somebody hurt.

I realize the baseline problem is that your husband is being obtuse, but it is really really OK to tackle that problem later, when you aren’t already drained.

A useful response to remarks like, “It’s fine if he stays up,” is to agree with the fact he’s fixed on and then make your point: “Of course he’ll manage one late night, I agree. I, however, will be miserable wrangling a tired kid when I’m already tired.”

He likely won’t budge. People want what they want and he wants a “normal” evening, it seems. But you’ll establish he’s getting this at your expense.

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Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

Syndicated Advice Columnist
Advice Columnist Carolyn Hax takes your questions and tackles your problems.