Q. I am thrilled to be at home with my children this summer, so early on I planned several fun outings with them. I allowed each one to pick a friend to go with us on the first two outings. I then contacted the parents to get their approval, then provided the time for picking them up and estimated time of return, and my cell phone number.
So, off we go. One little friend has given me an envelope from her mother with "spending money" inside for the child to spend on a nominal special treat while we are enjoying the event. (I always purchase all the food and beverages and entrance fees for all of us.) The other child who has joined us does not bring any money.
I feel guilty then when the one friend buys a souvenir, like a little stuffed animal or bracelet and I buy a souvenir for each of my two children, and the other child does not have any money to buy something. So, bought something for this child, too, each time.
Is it appropriate for me to ask the child's mother to consider sending some money along with her on our next fun day outing? Should I ask the child to ask her mother? Should I have my daughter tell her friend to ask her mother for money? Or, rather than upset anyone or make them feel bad, should I just continue buying this child a small souvenir?
A. And, you are asking yourself, why are there always complications when doing something nice?
First of all, this is not a situation for your child or your child's friend to solve. You are the adult. You are organizing these events and you are handling the details. Therefore, when you call this child's mother with the details for the next fun outing, politely say, "Oh, and if you would like, you could give Janie a small amount of cash in an envelope with her name on it for me to keep for her in case she sees a nominally-priced souvenir she would like."
Be prepared to suggest an amount if asked, and add that you will return the envelope with any remaining money when you bring Janie back home.
If this is the full-time working Mom's first experience of having someone else entertain her daughter for summer events, she probably just has not thought of sending spending money with her daughter.
Q. I was at lunch recently with a friend who drinks a lot of water. Each time he wanted his glass refilled, he moved it to the edge of the table. It was only the two of us at a small table, so I am certain the waiter would have readily seen his glass to refill it as needed. After it was refilled, he moved it closer to his plate where it belonged.
This process was repeated several times during our meal. He never even spoke to the waiter, just moved his water glass back and forth. I had iced tea, and the waiter refilled my iced tea glass without my doing or saying anything. Was my friend doing something strange or is that acceptable?
A. Your friend was not necessarily doing "something strange," but he definitely was not using proper dining etiquette. His method for having his glass refilled is distracting as well as improper.
When being served, do not move any empty glass or plate. The waiter refills glasses with whatever beverage where the drinking vessel is located. The diner does not lift the glass, nor hold it for the waiter to refill.
If there is not enough room for the waiter to get behind a diner to refill the diner,s glass, rather than the waiter trying to reach in front of the diner, the waiter can request the diner to please hand him the glass for refilling. The waiter holds the glass away from the table, refills it, then gives the refilled glass back to the diner.
This process can also be distracting and it would indeed be wiser for the restaurant owner or manager to rearrange the tables with enough space for waiters to execute their duties in the preferred manner.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Pat Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427. Or email to firstname.lastname@example.org