Q: Help! We find it almost impossible to finish a restaurant meal when our 18-month-old twins are along, which is always. We give them toys to keep them busy, and they do well for about 30 minutes after which chaos breaks loose. They begin screaming and throwing things and make it very difficult for us to finish our meal much less enjoy conversation with other adults who may be with us. It’s very embarrassing and I generally end up leaving the restaurant with them. How can I be more proactive about this problem?
A: Let me pose a thought problem to you: You have an adult friend who is generally very personable but has a habit of becoming disruptive in crowded public spaces. He invariably begins a loud argument that rapidly deteriorates into screaming and throwing whatever objects are handy. Would you invite him to join you for dinner in a restaurant?
No, you would not. You would not want to be associated with this individual’s public outbursts, and you would not want to subject other patrons to them either. That is nothing more than commonsense, and the very same commonsense applies to this situation with your 18-month-old twins.
It’s one thing to invite other adults to your home for dinner. In that event, feed your twins before your guests arrive, then do your best to keep them occupied while you entertain. Better yet, have your guests arrive after you’ve fed, bathed, and put your twins to bed. If only for the parents’ sake, this age child should be in bed by 7 p.m. anyway, and the common sense of that policy is doubled with twins. It is axiomatic that the later one lets young children stay up, the more wound up they get, and the more difficult it is to get them into their beds and off to sleep.