DEAR MISS MANNERS:
My social circle and I are in our late 20s, and we’re all just starting to get married -- and some of us are starting to have babies. One couple in particular feels the need to parade their bundle of joy around since the week that it was born -- they brought a newborn to an adult holiday party where we were all cheerily drinking. I’ve always heard newborns aren’t supposed to be exposed to outsiders and germs ... and intoxicated people.
This behavior has continued, unfortunately. At a recent social gathering -- again, adults were drinking -- they insisted on bringing baby along. Before the event, the mother asked if it was a baby-friendly event, and I responded that it was probably not, as there was going to be drinking and adults carrying on merrily. But, despite her own misgivings about the inappropriateness of bringing a baby into that kind of situation, our hostess conceded that it could come.
In an effort to prove a point to me, mommy dearest kept the baby there past midnight. It got to the point where all of the younger partygoers were asking me why it was there and expressing how uncomfortable it was making them, as they wanted to party down. The comment was even made that she was doing it just for selfish attention. I’m inclined to agree.
I’m sick of couples looking down their noses at single people like me, with their faux maturity -- because that’s what it is, for saying that we don’t want to amend our social habits just so that they can have their baby cake and party while eating it too. When I’m a parent, my kids will be with a sitter, or grandparents, or my hubby and I will be polite enough to stay home. To me, that’s being a mature and responsible parent.
When did it become acceptable for parents to drag their little ones to adult establishments and social occasions where they might cause a disruption or make others feel uncomfortable? Those places aren’t Disneyland or Chuck E. Cheese!
Aren’t these people being incredibly rude to the rest of us? What should we say to parents that didn’t get the memo about that -- or did, and just don’t seem to care?
GENTLE READER: Somewhere here there is a legitimate problem, but Miss Manners is having a hard time digging it out from all that unpleasant and heavy-handed sarcasm. It is clear to her that you are looking down on parents and their children, rather than they on you.
This is not to say that babies belong at merry drinking parties. For one thing, their taste in drinks tends to be different.
But friends should not be vilified just because they are at different stages of life. Parents can’t always find sitters, and they are almost inevitably torn between wanting to spend time with their children and wanting some grown-up company.
If you want to keep these people as friends, you should suggest other get-togethers, ones that they are more easily able to manage alone, or where they can safely park a small baby to nap in another room while the party is going on.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it okay to give a gift and sign your name and deceased spouse’s name?
GENTLE READER: In a word, no. Miss Manners understands that you mean to express the lovely sentiment that the spouse is still with you in spirit, but that is not the effect you will achieve. Instead, the recipient will think, “But I thought he was dead!”