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Carolyn Hax: He wants to inflict this holy terror on the world

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.
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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
DEAR IMPENDING: 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.
Re: Tantrum
What?!?! Expecting your husband to parent his child does not make you a “shrew.”
To: Tantrum
It sounds like you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself to manage what other people think — your husband, folks in the restaurant, even Carolyn. I hope you can let yourself off the hook for that a bit.
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DEAR CAROLYN: If I had warning, I could have gotten a sitter. My husband is great and does more than an equal share of parenting, but he just has a higher tolerance level than I do for rowdy behavior. Thanks for the suggestion to deal with the bigger issue another time. Maybe kiddo will surprise me, maybe I leave early. Who’s to say … tomorrow will come either way.
Tantrum again
DEAR TANTRUM AGAIN: There you go. It always does.
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Adapted from a recent online discussion. Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

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