Etiquette: Keep baby’s bottom off table

Q. Did I miss something or is it now permissible to set a small child up on a dining table? I have seen this occur in several restaurants in the last month. These are children, or babies, still in diapers. One can only wonder if it’s time for a diaper change and the mother hasn’t noticed it yet. Then the food is served and the child is placed in the appropriate chair. I find this terribly disgusting and inappropriate. Your opinion please.

A. It is certainly not proper, or sanitary, to place any child, regardless of the age, on the top of a table on which food is served.

Q. My neighbor and I are good friends. We often share morning coffee together at my house or hers on our days off from work. She gets lots of different magazines. My budget doesn’t really allow me to spend a lot of money on magazines. She usually has her magazines near the table where we have coffee at her house and she brings them with her when she comes for coffee at my house. She has insisted on giving me her magazines after she reads them, which is usually rather quickly. I’ve offered to help pay for the subscriptions, but she won’t hear of it. I feel somewhat guilty not paying her for some of these magazines even though she says she would just pitch them. Should I give her a thank-you card with some money in it?

A. You have already offered to share the expense of the magazines with your neighbor and she has refused. She has also indicated she would be throwing them away, but would rather give them to you. Accept her kindness and neighborly friendship. It is not necessary to write her a thank-you note and include money. What you could do, however, is occasionally share some homemade cookies, a loaf of banana bread or a small cake with her. Package nicely with ribbon, give it to her, and politely tell her: “Thank you for being such a nice person and wonderful neighbor.”

Q. Summer sporting activities will be here before you know it. We live in a neighborhood with lots of little ones about the same age. I don’t mind taking my turn in taking others with me when I drive either of my children to a sporting practice, but there is one mother who always has some excuse why she either couldn’t take her turn or called to cancel out at the last minute. One of the other mothers in our neighborhood is threatening not to take this mother’s children with her when she drives this summer. I don’t agree with her because these little ones might not be able to be a part of these sporting activities, and that is not fair to them. She wants me to go with her to talk to this mother. I think if she wants to do that, she doesn’t need me to go with her. I don’t want to start a problem. I’d rather drive an extra day. What’s the proper thing for me to do?

A. You are not obligated to go with this unhappy neighbor lady, especially if you feel it is going to be a confrontational discussion. It sounds like that may very well be her purpose. If she wants to go talk to this other mother to set up a summer driving schedule, that is fine, but she does not need to involve you. Give her the day you are willing to drive and allow her to proceed contacting all the other mothers, including the mother who had problems fulfilling her driving schedule last summer, and then provide you feedback on the results.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to