Manners Matter: Why Am I at the Kiddie Table?

Dear Mary Pat,


My cousin is getting married soon. I was really looking forward to going to the wedding until I found out that my boyfriend and I are going to be at the kiddie table at the reception. And by “kiddie,” I’m not talking pre-teens…there will be six children, four of whom still need booster seats. I asked what this was about, wondering why my boyfriend and I are getting stuck with a poorly concealed babysitting gig. I was told that the mommies need a break. I like kids, but I don’t really feel that I should get stuck with six little charges at a wedding. Am I wrong to be annoyed by this?



My Name Ain’t Mary Poppins

Ellison Bay, Wis.



Dear My Name Ain’t Mary Poppins,


Your cousin is right, moms do need a break. That is why babysitters were invented.

I looked up the definitions of babysitting so that we are all on the same page; defines babysitting “as to take charge of a child while the parents are temporarily away.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines babysitter as “a person engaged to care for one or more children in the temporary absence of parents or guardians.” You will note that in neither definition did it say “a babysitter is someone you invite to a wedding, dump six kids on her, limit her capacity to have fun, limit her capacity to have adult conversation, hope that she wears stain-resistant clothing for the inevitable spills and that hope she will graciously accept her role without any pay.”

And just in case anyone is getting any ideas, this is not a rip on children. I love kids. I also love parents who know when to leave them at home and don’t pass them off on others. If you had volunteered to sit at the kids table, that would be a different story. However, you didn’t. That being said, the bride is family and might not see the situation in the same way I do. My advice is to tread lightly – brides are not always considered to be the most rational of creatures. If you get to the reception and see that your table number is still the same as the little tykes, you will have to make the best of it. Stake out where their parents are ahead of time and don’t be shy about letting them know if (and let’s be honest, when) the munchkins have their meltdowns. At that point, offer to swap places with the parents (oozing concern for their youngster’s well being). You may get to sit at the adult table after all.


Good luck,

Mary Pat


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