To challenge couple in restaurant who judged my DCs?

(337 Posts)
TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 19:38:06

Had dinner out earlier in an Italian restaurant. I agreed that the DCs (11 and 9) could play their Kindle Fires for 10-15 minutes when we got there. This is not sth they do often - they never usually play them in a restaurant or even around the dinner table at home.

Two tables away a couple (mid 60s) were tutting head shaking and he said "the trouble is they lose the art of conversation". I don't think they intended me to hear it, but it came over loud and clear.

I waited until they had finished their starter then approached them. I said in a quiet voice that I was sorry for interrupting them and that I heard what they had said. I said I wanted to let them know that my children had had a busy day at school and the eldest one had just had a one hour language tuition session after school. That I said that they can play for 15 minutes and that it's not sth we would normally do blah blah. They apologised for the comment and said they just think it's a shame when kids have their faces in devices all the time (they said they didn't have children of their own but have noticed it with nephews and neices etc.). I actually agree with this whey is why I don't let mine play at the table etc. and I told them this. We actually had a pleasant conversation about it.

I clearly felt the need to challenge their judgemental view. I was sat there for some time trying to decide whether to say something or not and the saying something clearly got the better of me. I just felt that they know nothing about us and what we would normally do. I didn't want them to go away with an assumption about me/my kids/other kids (am a bit sick of hearing about the downfall of the youth of today from older generations).

But was I being unreasonable? Should I have just ignored them (after 15 minutes kids had put Kindles away and we were chatting amongst ourselves and maybe they'd have seen this).

Roshbegosh Thu 27-Mar-14 19:40:34

At least you were civil about it but I would have let it go.

scurryfunge Thu 27-Mar-14 19:41:07

I don't think you need to worry too much about the opinion of one couple. They have clearly lost the art of conversation if that is what they were talking about.

GertTheFlirt Thu 27-Mar-14 19:42:50

Yes you should have ignored them.

Merrylegs Thu 27-Mar-14 19:42:53

Oh god, I think you were v restrained.

I would have said something like 'if the art of conversation is passing judgement on other people then I am happy for my kids not to have it'

And then pushed their smug faces into their pasta. And added 'judge that'.

NewtRipley Thu 27-Mar-14 19:43:00

I don't think you were unreasonable. Whilst I don't think you should have to justify yourself, they said it audibly. Sounds like they will think again before rushing to judgment.

GertTheFlirt Thu 27-Mar-14 19:44:37

I would have complained about YOU interrupting my meal, with attitude and asked for you to be removed from the restaurant.

SigningGirl Thu 27-Mar-14 19:44:56

What you did was what I would have wanted to do... and you managed it in a nice way too.

I think people judge too readily - they don't know your family/children, so might make them think twice before judging others... or at the very least means you won't be simmering about it for ages!

IDugUpADiamond Thu 27-Mar-14 19:45:20

I honestly wouldn't have cared what some strangers thought and would never feel inclined to explain myself to people who don't matter to me. A few years ago I was feeding my then 18 months old DS the foam from my cappuccino at an airport's coffee. The people on the next table had a great old judgey conversation about how wrong it was to give babies coffee. I was laughing inside.

hoppinghare Thu 27-Mar-14 19:45:46

I would definitely have left it. You say they didn't even mean for you to hear the conversation. You could have and maybe did create an uncomfortable atmosphere. If they had said it to you then you could have told them it was none of their business.

I would not explain myself to strangers. Your children sound very well behaved. I see no harm in what they were doing.

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 19:45:59

Hehe Merry. That's partly why I did it Newt. Obviously partly cos I didn't want to feel unfairly judged, and partly cos I thought it might make them stop and think in future. I'm not above judging ppl but I really do try to remember that we never know the circumstances etc.

hangingaround Thu 27-Mar-14 19:45:59

Well this is really just a post about how people shouldn't judge. However, I think it's quite reasonable to have an opinion about how long children spend on devices - we went out recently and all the children in the restaurant were plugged in including ours and they are right in saying that in their day the children would have been obliged to join in the conversation. Really I don't see why you had to go over and justify yourself - people judge, I would have just ignored them.

NewtRipley Thu 27-Mar-14 19:47:12

People should really just judge in their heads, at home with hubby, or on here. Not so the judgee can hear.

BethGoLightly Thu 27-Mar-14 19:47:30

I think you just should have risen above their comment and ignored them but they should have kept their opinionated voices down so you didn't hear them in the first place.

chattychattyboomba Thu 27-Mar-14 19:48:05

I think you handled it perfectly. People will always judge- often about things they know nothing about! (It's very easy to have 100's of ideals when you have no children of your own!) I agree that challenging their opinions is the best way to dispel narrow minded beliefs of the downfall of our youth, but equally it could have been seen that you really care what other people think.

Salmotrutta Thu 27-Mar-14 19:49:54

I like to judge sotto voce.

BettyBotter Thu 27-Mar-14 19:53:34

Losing the art of conversation hmm

I'd have thought that making snide and judgemental comments about other diners, who are disturbing nobody, in their hearing is not the zenith of conversational arts either.

Glad you said something, Totes. I wouldn't have dared.

usualsuspectt Thu 27-Mar-14 19:54:46

I think you should have left it.

I couldn't care less what strangers think of me or mine. I certainly wouldn't waste my time explaining myself to them.

Caitlin17 Thu 27-Mar-14 19:56:39

YABU. You should just have ignored them. It blows it out of proportion.

MeepMeepVroooom Thu 27-Mar-14 19:58:45

I wouldn't have bothered my arse personally but you were polite and they apologised.

Don't think there is an issue.

kennyp Thu 27-Mar-14 20:00:36

good for you for saying something. i would've done too. perhaps it was international judge strangers in restaurant day, but only that other beaky couple had heard about it.

i beaked in the other day in mc donalds when some boys were taking the piss out of a very large woman - they were saying "what's she having? salad?!" and "bet she's got 5000 easter eggs at home".

i channelled my inner sharon osborne (who has unfeasibly large balls, imo) and let it all out. grrrrrrrrrrrrrr (me being a tiger).

PoemGirl Thu 27-Mar-14 20:01:08

I wouldn't have bothered, personally, but you handled it well and opened up a conversation with them which might make them think twice in future.
But it could have gone much worse and you could've got in a big argument with them! I wouldn't have cared enough to risk that, but then I am a huge confrontation avoider...

Southeastdweller Thu 27-Mar-14 20:02:23

I agree with others that you should have left it. Seems like such a trivial thing in the grand scheme. Maybe you thought there was some truth in what they said and it rattled you.

crochetedblanket Thu 27-Mar-14 20:02:44

You should have left it.
If your kids need a break, take them home, not to a restaurant. There is no excuse for tablets/devices in a restaurant. If my 3 year old can sit through dinner, so can anyone!

mercibucket Thu 27-Mar-14 20:03:20

you totally should have minded your own business.
if they said it to you, or even maybe deliberately so you would hear it, but as it is, no, you absolutely should not have said anything.

TyrannosaurusBex Thu 27-Mar-14 20:04:17

I'd have done what you did. I dress in a slightly unusual way and have been known to stop and (pleasantly) explain my feelings on individuality to people who make audible comments.

luabay Thu 27-Mar-14 20:05:00

Don't know about the art of conversation but there is an art in not constantly worrying about what others think about you. You've first got worked up about some irrelevant comment by some bloke in a restaurant and now are chasing views about yourself from anonymous internet folk.

ThatOtherTime Thu 27-Mar-14 20:05:48

You did the right thing. I hope they felt embarrassed.

Yes they were judgy, but you going over there to tell them off makes you sound a teeny weeny bit loopy, sorry.

LineRunner Thu 27-Mar-14 20:07:01

I wonder which of the couple said what?

I think it's also rude to eavesdrop on other peoples conversations in a restaurant and then go up and challenge them on it. So, both as bad as each other.

RevoltingPeasant Thu 27-Mar-14 20:07:48

OP it is a good job that they really were talking about your DC!

Once in a restaurant I made a comment about having met an Australian lady earlier that day - this was because she had randomly turned out to be the mum of an Aussie friend of mine so it was the start of a story.

Next thing I know, some twat at the next table jumped up and started on about how he was from NZ and I was being ignorant. He would not believe I wasn't talking about him....

Joules68 Thu 27-Mar-14 20:09:26


No excuse for these at a table, bad manners, despite the circs

DrCoconut Thu 27-Mar-14 20:10:24

My DS1 often has earphones in places like restaurants. People can judge all they like but his autism is tougher for him than them, and if blocking out large amounts of background noise with something he controls helps then so be it.

Caitlin17 Thu 27-Mar-14 20:11:12

Agree with Badger it does make you sound a bit loopy. It's a terribly small thing to get worked up about.

firesidechat Thu 27-Mar-14 20:11:22

They were having a private conversation, all be it a slightly judgey one, and you should have just left them to it.

People watching and commenting on your fellow diners is sometimes the most fun you can have in a restaurant. grin

Aventurine Thu 27-Mar-14 20:11:51

No, I think you did well, especially as you ended it cordially. If someone judges a person loudly enough for the person to hear, then they can expect that person to challenge them on their incorrect assumptions.

NearTheWindymill Thu 27-Mar-14 20:11:58

I'd have left it and had it been me and DH we probably would dine out on the lady who eavesdropped and then had to come and speak to us about it. Having said that, DH and I would probably have waited until later to say it. Think on though - had you been interacting with your children you wouldn't have been able to eavesdrop and imagine what you might miss over the years. grin

Buckteethjeff Thu 27-Mar-14 20:12:10

Over reaction to go over to their table!

They are allowed their opinion in a private conversation just like your entitled to let your dc do as you wish.

Some times people get too involved with MN and create situations where they can run back and brag about it on here!

I would have told you to fuck off and get back to your kids and go and put that on MN

Mintyy Thu 27-Mar-14 20:12:27

I think your behaviour was more questionable than theirs, actually. Older people (and I include myself in that category) are going to be a bit hmm about children using electronics when out for a meal, tbh, so you just need to get used to it. They were speaking to each other, as is their right. You were intrusive.

80sMum Thu 27-Mar-14 20:13:33

I think you should not have spoken to them. They didn't approach you and directly criticise you or your children, they were having a private conversation that you happened to overhear.

You were very unreasonable to have approached them and embarrassed them by confronting them.

Aventurine Thu 27-Mar-14 20:13:37

by incorrect assumption, I mean their assumption that you let your kids spend so long looking at screens that they risk losing the art of conversation.

Salmotrutta Thu 27-Mar-14 20:13:46

Maybe the light from the Kindle screen was impinging on their enjoyment of the Penne Picante?

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 20:13:58

Interrupting their meal to ensure they knew your DCs were tutored/tired was completely U. I couldn't have cared less what they said/thought, God knows why you did.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Thu 27-Mar-14 20:14:06

Yabvu and very rude.

It's not your place to interupt their meal or a private conversation. They're welcome to think it's wrong to have tablets/ipads/mobiles I'd theycwish. I bet they've gone home talking about the mad defensive woman who was rude at the restaurant.

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:14:07

Yeah, I probably wouldn't do it again. It felt like the right thing to do at the time and I was getting worked up about it. I agree that I shouldn't have let them bother me - I know what great conversationalists my kids are and I know we are happy with the balance in their lives. It shouldn't matter what total strangers think (easier said than done sometimes).

Thetallesttower Thu 27-Mar-14 20:14:58

I would have said nothing, perhaps seeing your children led them onto general musings about the prevalence of these devices and it wasn't specifically a comment about your children but a general trend. I think it's extremely rude to approach their table and comment on their comment, given that they didn't say anything directly to your children or even about your children.

It went fine this time, they were nice, probably did talk about you though when you were gone.

I would not in general seek to comment on people's minorly judgy behaviour when out in public, you will pick the wrong person one time and it won't end well- in fact, if you picked me I'd have been very cross indeed.

MorrisZapp Thu 27-Mar-14 20:15:01

Yabu, and a bit rude. What Mintyy said, really.

chattychattyboomba Thu 27-Mar-14 20:15:24

Exactly aventurine.
And I'm loving how sanctimonious everyone is about the use of technology. What are you all doing right now? Sitting on your phone/tablet/computer having some down time? They were waiting for a meal after a very busy day. She made a decision for her own children that doesn't impact anyone else. They were wrong to judge and she was right to tell them so.

Nohootingchickenssleeping Thu 27-Mar-14 20:15:40

Better than them running around screaming like some kids in the pub on my birthday. It was a nice place too, unacceptable behaviour outside of McDonalds IMHO. I was very English and just tutted at them.

TidyDancer Thu 27-Mar-14 20:16:05

I'm really surprised you approached them. I think that was ruder than their comment. I'm amazed you would care that much about the throwaway opinion of a stranger.

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:16:25

Buckteeth it's my first post on MN. I genuinely have been umming and ahhing over whether I did the right thing or now, and wondering if I would do it again in the same circs.

Perhaps you do that on MN, but as I said, it's my first time.

Twighlightsparkle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:16:53

I think younshouldhave left it, I feel sorry for them.

Binnky Thu 27-Mar-14 20:17:19

Why do people care about being judged? It seems to be an obsession on this site. I couldn't give a toss what anyone thinks about what if choose to do. Don't be so defensive. Why would you feel the need to justify yourself to a total stranger? :-)

Quite a few people have been appearing to do exactly what Buckteeth said recently.

Salmotrutta Thu 27-Mar-14 20:19:01

Actually... How do you know they were speaking about your children OP?

Maybe they were in fact talking about their nephews and nieces that they referred to?

whomadeyougod Thu 27-Mar-14 20:19:39

truth hurts ,i would of not politely told you to go away if you ear wigged my conversation .

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:20:19

BTW, I appreciate it was a private conversation between the two of them. But there was a family of 5 directly between us and them, and usual din of diners in a restaurant and I very clearly heard what they said.

CombineBananaFister Thu 27-Mar-14 20:20:50

It's awful to be judged unfairly as you stew on it and it becomes bigger than the actual comment and it's good that you approached them discreetly but they never meant for you to hear it so it wasn't a passive aggressive judgement dig so to them it was just conversation and their views. (unfortunately you did hear it)

Sometimes you have to allow that people have their opinion and they are entitled to it, but however frustrating that may be it's a bit rude to intterupt a meal to prove a point - I can add I would have felt the same though, the need to explain myself.

My nan had a good saying - 'you do not need to value the opinions of people who you do not personally value' don't if it's some lame-ass poster or new-age saying but it's a good mantra

Salmotrutta Thu 27-Mar-14 20:20:55

Are you a bat OP?

brokenhearted55a Thu 27-Mar-14 20:21:04

I think you were ruder than they were.

Smacks of showing off too: busy day at school and a hour language tuition after. ..aren't my dcs he greatest.

When weren't they at home then for dinner after such a busy day.

AcrylicPlexiglass Thu 27-Mar-14 20:21:25

Wtf do you care what some random strangers think of your parenting? Are you feeling a bit down/insecure at the moment or something?

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:22:34

Ah but is it ear wigging if it's so audible.

It was obvious they were talking about my children. They were looking directly at them and making comments. Otherwise I would not have said anything.

Of course I wasn't sure how they would react. But I was prepared to argue the point in a less than polite manner if needs be (but as I said, it was a pleasant conversation).

BikeRunSki Thu 27-Mar-14 20:22:53

At that age I would have had my head in a book. The lack of technology would not gave made me any more conversational.

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:23:50

We planned to eat out. Language lesson is a 20 minute drive from home. DH is away overnight. I told them yesterday that we would eat out as a treat.

FreudiansSlipper Thu 27-Mar-14 20:23:56

why did it bother you

there is some truth to it we are all so busy playing on our phones/kindles/ipads that we are not communicating as much

it is a choice we are making, I use my phone to keep ds quiet at times as it is more relaxing for me

poorbuthappy Thu 27-Mar-14 20:26:16

When I have private conversation I tend not to have them where the people I am talking about can hear them.
Not really private is it?

Southeastdweller Thu 27-Mar-14 20:26:56

thetallest is right. This could have ended nasty and perhaps if the couple had been younger it would have. I wouldn't have been aggressive if you'd come up to me but I'd be less polite than the mid 60's couple you encountered.

Quinteszilla Thu 27-Mar-14 20:28:17

I am sure they had no interest in your children, and were not at all bothered if they "lost the art of conversation". I bet they saw your kids, but both knew in between them they were talking about their relatives who they were likely concerned with.

Whether your kids had long days or been to tuition was most likely of no interest to them, as they just saw it as a sign of the times, and this is why kids these days cant think or cant talk, because they need passive entertainment all the time.

Not sure what I think about eavesdropping, and intruding on other peoples conversation though. Personally I would have just left it.

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:29:24

I honestly don't know why I didn't feel able to let it go. I do think we judge an awful lot, mostly unfairly. I felt I needed to take a stand. TBH I would have felt the same if the kids at the table next to me where the ones being critised.

It's like that story about the kids misbehaving on the subway (NY?). The dad was letting it happen. Someone finally complained to him and told him to keep his kids in line. He apologised and said their mother had just died at the hospital.

OBVIOUSLY this is NOT the same as that. But people don't tend to stand up for anything any more.

Thetallesttower Thu 27-Mar-14 20:32:27

Yes, but what have you achieved? They still think young ones have lost the art of conversation, they are probably now talking about how very assertive mums are these days. If you are in a public place then you are in public view and people are allowed to judge you, think things in their heads, say things about the general things you are doing in a private conversation. You can also be on CCTV, in photos, observed for research and marketing purposes, and so on.

They shouldn't insult you- but they didn't, in fact they didn't address you or say anything directly concerning your children, just a general comment to which you took exception. You intruded on them more than they intruded on you IMO.

OnlyLovers Thu 27-Mar-14 20:32:27

I think YANBU, because you say you challenged them quietly and politely about it, they apologised and you had a pleasant conversation and found common ground.

Sounds like a good outcome to me smile

YABU. I probably would have said something similar to my partner if we had seen young children playing with devices in a restaurant, because we have in the past. I think it's lazy parenting and rude. But that's just my opinion. I'm entitled to my opinion, just like your entitled to let your children play on a kindle at the dinner table.

If you had come over to me in a restaurant and interrupted my dinner to try and justify you parenting choices, i wouldn't have been as polite as the couple you encountered.

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 20:32:59

What exactly are you "standing up" for? Your right to go and interrupt an elderly couple's meal? Why did you feel it was necessary to explain your circumstances to them, it's none of their business. I wonder if you would have approached anyone you thought might get "arsey" with you or did you think they were a soft target? If you had done that to my late parents I would be seriously pissed off with you.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Thu 27-Mar-14 20:33:41

Do you accept you were being rude and unreasonable?

You say you would have argued with them impolitely too.. That sounds a little unstable.

Buckteethjeff Thu 27-Mar-14 20:34:14

The other day I was out side having a coffee at Neros , there were two ladies behind me. One was bored out of her tits looking at the other woman's photos I mean who the fuck has photos these days

Anyway bored woman commented on my dd2 pram, it had a winter set on with fur round the hood. Bored woman said something like " ah bless , look at the lovely fur! " . Arse hole photo lady said " humph , will get absolutely no benefit of it what so ever"

I heard her. She sounded like a right knob, but I couldn't be arsed turning round and throwing my hazelnut latte in her face like I wanted to I just pretended I hadn't heard and looked at my beautiful dd2.

This is the first time I've mentioned it. I don't let arseholes bother me.

Loves my pram I do !

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:35:35

No I don't accept that I was rude. They should not have spoken so loudly, and so obviously about my children.

brokenhearted55a Thu 27-Mar-14 20:35:54

You're comparing your dcs judgment to that of children who just lost their mother?

You say it's not the same but still you brought it up.

behindthetimes Thu 27-Mar-14 20:36:31

I think you did well to challenge it in such a way that you ended up having a nice conversation about it with them. Perhaps on another day you wouldn't have said anything, sometimes these things just get the better of you, but it might also make them more aware of judging a situation on how it first appears.

FreudiansSlipper Thu 27-Mar-14 20:36:45

you found a common ground - that you thought what your children were doing was antisocial

so they hit a raw nerve, you were not standing up for yourself you had someone disagree with you when you yourself do not seem to agree with what you were allowing your children to do in the first place

i think you are taking it all far too personally

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 20:38:33

If you don't accept you were rude, why have you come on AIBU? You were rude. They made a remark that you overheard, it might not even have been directed at you. You sized them up and probably thought they wouldn't argue back so you went over to them and interrupted their meal to boast about how fabulous your DCs are and how brilliant your parenting is.

Like I say, if you'd done this to my Mum and Dad when they were alive, I'd have a few choice words for you.

GreenLandsOfHome Thu 27-Mar-14 20:39:20

Ywbu and very rude.

I would not have been so polite if it had me DH and me you approached.

NewtRipley Thu 27-Mar-14 20:40:09


That is an amazing pushchair. Like your baby is being swallowed by a friendly Yeti grin

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:40:11

Actually I think I was standing up for myself. I was trying to make the point that I was raising the next generation well so bugger off and stop judging me on a snapshot of 15 minutes.

NewtRipley Thu 27-Mar-14 20:40:43

I think the OP was a little rude, but the other diners were ruder.

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 20:41:42

Hmmm... if you think you're doing such a great job, why do you need to explain or seek the approval of 2 random strangers in a restaurant?

brokenhearted55a Thu 27-Mar-14 20:41:48

Oh also you were very lucky they were actually talking about you.

"Lost the art of conversation" is a very general comment. I have used it frequently regarding friends and partners who cant pick up the bloody phone anymore and everything is done by text message.

I have had converstions like that in public before and had nothing to do with anyone around me. If you had come up to me to show off about your dcs and to tell me off for saying it you would have got a very confused look followed by a complaint to the restaurant manager as I would have doubted your sanity.

NewtRipley Thu 27-Mar-14 20:41:58


60s is not that old. Adults should take responsibility for their behaviour. Not be all PA and then not expect for people to be assertive back to them

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:42:07

I wasn't rude. Doesn't mean I don't wonder if I would do the same again or if it would be better to let it wash over me (for my sake as much as their's, ie not to get worked up about it).

maddening Thu 27-Mar-14 20:42:18

if they were having a private conversation and it wasn't said with any intention of you hearing it then you were rude - we all judge everything - good bad and indifferent - everyone is entitled to their opinions right or wrong - but to judge someone and purposefully act on that judgement (eg PA commenting) is rude but you say that isn't the case here so you were rude to interrupt their meal to challenge them in their private conversation. It isn't unusual for debates and conversations to spark up following an incident or observation which is what happened here by your own account.

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:43:40

Seriously?! Doubted my sanity? Bragged about my children? Are those saying that completely insecure about their own kids?! That wasn't what it was about you see. I was trying to explain the balance they had had that day and how they were having some downtime before they put their Kindles away and we chatted over our dinner!!

Thetallesttower Thu 27-Mar-14 20:43:43

I disagree, this is rude, I don't think I've ever approached another set of diners to comment on their conversation ever except for nice things, or to exchange a pleasantry if getting in and out. You seem to be looking for trouble except only with nice older people who are too polite to tell you to get lost

FreudiansSlipper Thu 27-Mar-14 20:44:04

if your children have got to this age and you have never had anyone pass comment on your parenting either

a) you were so busy dealing with them you did not notice
b) you are hard of hearing and have bad eyesight

people pass comment all the time on mothers (fathers tend to get praise) not everyone will think you are doing the best for your children all the time and sometimes shock horror you may not be doing the best, but the best you can at that point in time (or want to)

JeanSeberg Thu 27-Mar-14 20:44:29

Lol at the (not so) stealth boast 'one-hour language tuition'. Was it Serbo-Croat or one of the Finno-Ugric group perchance? wink

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 20:45:07

Newt. I still bet the OP wouldn't have approached someone she thought would give her a pasting. smile

Only1scoop Thu 27-Mar-14 20:45:22


NewtRipley Thu 27-Mar-14 20:45:57


True. I do think the whole PA thing is a bit generational and annoying.

brokenhearted55a Thu 27-Mar-14 20:46:05

But the fact you felt the NEED to set the record straight makes you seem unhinged.

why do you care what they think. Do you need validation so badly.

Also I bet your dc's were mortified.

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:46:45

Oh you are so wrong there blanche. That had nothing to do with it. I can give as good as I get.

Actually it was Chinese. Make of that what you will.

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 20:47:02

JeanSebeg Yeah, the stealth boast had me snickering as well.

And OP, if you were secure about your parenting you wouldn't give a flying fuck what these people thought, just saying.

kungfupannda Thu 27-Mar-14 20:47:22

I think you were very OTT. It was a passing comment, possibly not even directly about your children, but simply part of a conversation kicked off by seeing them.

If they had spoken loudly about me, and it was rude enough for me to be annoyed, I'd probably have just turned round and raised my eyebrows so they knew I'd heard them, and left it at that.

I find it quite effective, especially if coupled with a faintly amused smile.

But I think I'd struggle to get worked up about a comment about the lost art of conversation. In general terms, they do have a point - you do see lots of people sitting around tables all playing on gadgets rather than talking. A lot of people do seem to struggle not to be on their phones all the time. I don't think it was particularly vital that two complete strangers, who you'll never see again, were appraised of your particular circumstances, and why your children didn't fit with a general view they'd formed.

brokenhearted55a Thu 27-Mar-14 20:47:31

No I bet it was Latin, Greek or Sanskrit.

Classics dahhhhling!

Treaclepot Thu 27-Mar-14 20:47:46

They were rude to let you hear them, sadly I agree with them about the fsct that you take su h old kids out for a meal and don't chat with them.

JeanSeberg Thu 27-Mar-14 20:48:24

Ha ha, I knew you wouldn't be able to help yourself and would drop that in.

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:48:36

I think actually those who say if I wasn't secure I wouldn't give a flying fuck are wrong. Some of us do actually challenge poor behaviour in others and not for that reason.

brokenhearted55a Thu 27-Mar-14 20:48:56


That isnt a language.

Cantonese? Mandarin? One of those maybe?

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 20:49:08

OP. If you could "give as good as you get" why all the hand wringing about what you did?

You could have caused an unpleasant scene in a crowded restaurant all because someone made a throwaway remark that may or may not have been about your DCs. I agree with others, you sound unhinged.

NewtRipley Thu 27-Mar-14 20:49:43

We go out for interminably long meals when visiting relatives in France. Is letting them read a TinTin book before courses OK? grin

Salmotrutta Thu 27-Mar-14 20:50:27

I think it's really very clever of you to have realised they were referring to your children despite there being a family of five seated at a table between you and them.

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 20:51:12

Killing myself at "Chinese"

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:51:22

Perhaps I was being facetious brokenhearted. What difference does it make what language it was?!

I'm not hand wringing. I'm simply canvassing what others would do. I certainly won't lose any sleep over it. That doesn't mean the same thing as not giving as good as I get tho. Some of you seem a bit dim.

Only1scoop Thu 27-Mar-14 20:51:34

'Poor behaviour'

Do you mean expressing an opinion and being overheard....

Bet they will dine in whispers next time ....just incase you end up at next table grin

OP Why did you feel you owe an explanation to the world about your choices?

Are you the sort of person who apologises to the checkout lady for buying coco pops (" i know what you think but usually my children eat free range organic kale, it is a one-off treat") wink

When walking into McD do you oarent loudly saying" yes, children, now as we do not come here OFTEN we can have a burger as a ONE OFF TREAT".


pictish Thu 27-Mar-14 20:52:33

OP - you went over there bothering them in the middle of their meal because fundamentally, you just couldn't handle the fact that someone somewhere failed to appreciate what clever children you have, and what a worthy parent you are. You just had to put them right didn't you?

You weren't standing up for were massaging your ego!

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:52:45

Argh, but the family of five weren't playing any devices. It was absolutely a certainty that they were talking about my children. No doubt. It was blindingly obvious, to the point where I wondered if they actually meant for us to hear. It was so loud and audible and pointed.

JeanSeberg Thu 27-Mar-14 20:53:15

Are your children called Tarquin and Guinevere?

Orangeanddemons Thu 27-Mar-14 20:53:37

What I would have done is talked loudly about the wonders of modern technology in the 21st century, and how sorry you felt for people who were old fashioned enough to feel threatened by it. I would then have followed it up with another loud comment about Luddismsmile

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 20:53:43

Fiscal it sounds as if you may do that?!!

Buckteethjeff Thu 27-Mar-14 20:54:02

Ha ha are you tellng fibbs op? grin

Rule 1 for first time posters - never tell a lie as these eagle eye gin hags MNetters will catch you in it!

FreudiansSlipper Thu 27-Mar-14 20:54:03

i would agree with then but think well i am getting a few peaceful minutes to myself to play candy crush contemplate on the day i have had

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 20:54:30

How ironic you're accusing other posters of being a bit dim when you seem to think Chinese is a language.

Your subsequent post about being facetious didn't save the ball you dropped on that one sweetie.

Salmotrutta Thu 27-Mar-14 20:54:47

Well if it was that- loud and pointed then you should have tipped the Parmesan over their heads and said "Woof to you lady".

... Not really.

kungfupannda Thu 27-Mar-14 20:56:09

Fiscal - I've been known to do that.

DS1 [loudly and in public]: Can we have fish fingers again tonight?
Me: Well, I suppose you could. I was going to cook a nice homemade meal, but just this once....
DS1: hmm

If I say it confidently enough, I can convince myself that I'm not a lazy cowbag who considers the freezer the greatest invention since the wheel


Buckteethjeff Thu 27-Mar-14 20:56:14

newt ah it was my one big buy, love it though! If it was remote control I'd climb in and drive it myself!!

Only1scoop Thu 27-Mar-14 20:57:22

Is this really your first post Op?grin

pictish Thu 27-Mar-14 20:58:37

You're canvasing what others would do?

I would dismiss the comment as of no consequence, and refrain from going over to their table to explain myself, while correcting them on how marvellous my children really are.

Buckteethjeff Thu 27-Mar-14 21:00:00

grin love this place sometimes

kungfupannda Thu 27-Mar-14 21:00:45

I'd probably think 'They have a point' before shrugging internally and deciding to worry about it tomorrow when I'm not so knackered.

The Scarlett O'Hara school of parenting - tomorrow is another day.

ArtexMonkey Thu 27-Mar-14 21:01:17

I wonder what the responses would be like if the Dcs had been sitting there dissing the old couple, and they had come over to tell them off about it?

FreudiansSlipper Thu 27-Mar-14 21:02:21

can you imagine if this did happen how the couple are still laughing at the children learning Chinese how did they keep straight faces. still you have given them a very funny story to tell others grin so some good has come out of it all

Buckteethjeff Thu 27-Mar-14 21:03:34

artex I think it would be the same. Approaching somebody is spoiling for a fight.

People should just have a massive food fight grin

iamsoannoyed Thu 27-Mar-14 21:04:42


You say you were "standing up for yourself". I am genuinely struggling to understand why you feel the need to justify yourself/your parenting, and insisting on how "well balanced" your children's days are to complete strangers.

It comes across as very insecure and your reaction seems completely OTT to me. I would just have ignored them, and got on with having my dinner with my DC, secure in the knowledge that I was raising my children well.

You were lucky this didn't cause a seen- you would have looked a bit silly to make such a fuss over this comment.

Bahhhhhumbug Thu 27-Mar-14 21:05:21

I think YABU . Had it been me you had overheard and 'challenged' in that manner I would've stuck to my guns with my opinion and said there is always an excuse why children have to have their heads stuck in the damn things even in a restaurant. Being tired or having just had a language lesson are both ridiculous excuses - a tired child (and they are hardly at the toddler meltdown stage at 11 and 9) can have their tiredness relieved how exactly by looking at a screen. Or a stressed child from a language lesson <rolls eyes> can be relaxed by playing on one how exactly ? Surely talking to his sibling/mother would be more relaxing.
Also if they were two tables away then they undoubtedly did not intend you to hear them which is completely different from someone making a sarcastic or judgy comment in a stage whisper deliberately intended for your ears.
How ironic it was an Italian restaurant too ,a culture where they love nothing more than having the youngest to the oldest all round the table and not looking at gadgets , but interacting with each other.

MorrisZapp Thu 27-Mar-14 21:06:40



I posted a genuine response earlier. Scrap that then.

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 21:06:43

Bet she's sitting there thinking "Of all the things I could have said, I had to go and balls it up and say Chinese grin

Gormless Thu 27-Mar-14 21:06:56

I'd have been livid if I'd made a private comment to my partner at my own table and someone came up and interrupted our evening to make themselves feel better about themselves.

Bahhhhhumbug Thu 27-Mar-14 21:08:12

Ooh a food fight , now you're talking grin

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 21:09:36

My DCs are learning Swiss and Belgian. Make what you will of that OP.

ilovesooty Thu 27-Mar-14 21:10:29

I was trying to make the point that I was raising the next generation well

For heaven's sake. I'm with those who wonder why on earth you need to trumpet your amazing parenting and justify yourself to strangers. Or why you thought it was appropriate to interrupt their meal.

pictish Thu 27-Mar-14 21:11:30

Just seen the bit about 'Chinese'....brilliant. grin

OP - for next is your friend.

YWBU OP, why the fuck did you do that?

ilovesooty Thu 27-Mar-14 21:12:07

blanche grin

brokenhearted55a Thu 27-Mar-14 21:12:17

Maybe they will learn "Indian" next term ROFL

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 21:13:10

I think she's gone...

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 21:14:00

......probably to find an African tutor...I hear there are some great Mexican speakers these days...

notso Thu 27-Mar-14 21:14:17

Buckteethjeff blush my sister and I said exactly that about the xplory hood fur when we looked at it in a baby shop.
<<ducks to dodge hazelnut latte>>

OP I think you are a bit hypocritical tbh. You obviously think screens at dinner isn't really acceptable or you're DC would have them regularly.
The couple were obviously of the same opinion.

IsChippyMintonExDirectory Thu 27-Mar-14 21:14:52

I'm so surprised some people think the OP was not harsh enough! Seriously who actually cares what strangers have to say and get angry about it?, some people don't like kids and the way they are engrossed in technology, quite frankly I can see their point, get over it, not everyone thinks your kids are fabulous.

Personally I'd have let it go but I think if the OP was planning to approach them then she was very civil in the way she did it.

maraisfrance Thu 27-Mar-14 21:15:09

Christ, OP, but you are an idiot. And I feel I"m a bigger one for reading this stuff. Totally agree with those posters who sense massive showing off and anxiety about THE WHOLE WORLD recognising what a perfect, excellent parent of perfect, excellent children you are. "I know what great conversationalists they are.." Gimme strength. Yeah, you're raising Mme de Sevigny and Oscar Wilde there, and everyone must acknowledge it.

IsChippyMintonExDirectory Thu 27-Mar-14 21:16:17

BTW my first comment not aimed at the OP but at the people who would have "done much worse than that" etc

Stripyhoglets Thu 27-Mar-14 21:19:20

I wouldn't have challenged but only cos I don't give a rats arse what people think of my children on devices in restaurants. We actually enjoy meals out now they are no longer bored while waiting for food, they used to entertain themselves by bickering which was significantly more stressful for me and unpleasant for other diners.

IsChippyMintonExDirectory Thu 27-Mar-14 21:19:50

Totally agree with those posters who sense massive showing off and anxiety about THE WHOLE WORLD recognising what a perfect, excellent parent of perfect, excellent children you are.

And this ^

I'm personally very happy and comfortable with the way I parent and on the couple of occasions I've heard people tutting about my child I can honestly it hasn't bothered me one bit. I feel bad for the OP as she seems quite insecure

Bahhhhhumbug Thu 27-Mar-14 21:21:08

Chinese ????? grin Well fuck me , no wonder Tarquin needed some 'downtime' whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean .

sorry ! swear box anyone? - pass it round then.

Hahahahahahahahahahahah - it's good 'ere innit ?

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 21:22:02

I'm very distressed for her that she thinks Chinese is a language...sorry, it's still cracking me up grin

Sandiacre Thu 27-Mar-14 21:22:32

I am chinese, just felt the need to type that.

You are very bad mannered op.

UptheChimney Thu 27-Mar-14 21:25:53

So you eavesdropped on a private conversation, and then challenged the people about it while they were eating their supper?

I can't quite believe this ... it's so rude.

So maybe they were judging you & your children? It was a private conversation. What's that old saying about eavesdroppers hearing ill of themselves?

indigo18 Thu 27-Mar-14 21:27:49

YADBU, and very rude.

ArtexMonkey Thu 27-Mar-14 21:28:42

I respectfully disagree buckteeth, I think people would be going 'woo yeah, go those old people, they showed your rude kids what for, ha ha, that'll put some fucking manners on em, right on!'

I think slating someone in public in a way that is obvious enough to catch their attention is spoiling for a fight myself. Yet again I find myself in this parallel mn universe.

But yeah all the 'learning Chinese' business is just over egging it now.

Bahhhhhumbug Thu 27-Mar-14 21:29:05

'Indian next term' hahahahahahahahahaha - stop now , I've got a stitch.

You lot should all be comedy writers,

HelpfulChap Thu 27-Mar-14 21:32:44


I would love to have swapped places with that couple whose meal you interrupted..

penguinplease Thu 27-Mar-14 21:32:48

to be honest if your kids hadn't had anything to do but had been noisy they would have had something to say about that too.
Opinions are like arseholes and for some reason comments about other peoples kids/parenting seem to be the hardest for some to keep to themselves.

I think you didn't need to justify what your kids were doing but I guess and least you didn't shout over and tell them to mind their own fucking business and flick them the v's. Which I might have been tempted to do..

WorraLiberty Thu 27-Mar-14 21:37:25

I know I'm spectacularly missing the point but what's the point in using a Kindle for just 10-15 minutes?

It's hardly worth turning it on, surely? confused

blanchedeveraux Thu 27-Mar-14 21:39:57

.....maybe they were brushing up on their Chinese? Sorry, I've flogged it to death, going to stop now, honest.

Bahhhhhumbug Thu 27-Mar-14 21:41:58

To give them a little bit of 'downtime' Worra of course , do keep up ! grin

WorraLiberty Thu 27-Mar-14 21:45:27

Friggin hell! grin

ballsballsballs Thu 27-Mar-14 21:45:45


ilovesooty Thu 27-Mar-14 21:50:59

to be honest if your kids hadn't had anything to do but had been noisy they would have had something to say about that too

They're 11 and 9, not toddlers. Surely they ought to be capable of not being noisy if they had "nothing to do"?

lucycoco Thu 27-Mar-14 21:52:50

"It's like that story about the kids misbehaving on the subway (NY?). The dad was letting it happen. Someone finally complained to him and told him to keep his kids in line. He apologised and said their mother had just died at the hospital."

Is that supposed to be a meaningful lesson in why we should never judge?! Jesus, that is painful.

Maybe the couple you confronted had just had something awful happen in their lives that meant they were talking uncharacteristically loudly without thinking how that affected you? Maybe they're both hard of hearing? Maybe they had been involved in a terrible accident caused by children playing on Kindles in restaurants [i]ofcoursetheybloodyweren't[/i], but: let's not turn it into something it's not. They judged you, you judged them back and now you're being sanctimonious about it on a forum.

claraschu Thu 27-Mar-14 21:55:14

This reminds me of a great story Obama tells about his dad. Some people were making racist comments in a bar (which were directed at his dad). His dad went over to them, and in a very civilised and educated way explained the origins and history of racism, and showed them how unreasonable it was. They listened to him at first because he was an imposing man, but apparently he won them over.

Maybe it is worth challenging people to look at their prejudices, if you are able to do it in a persuasive way.

IsChippyMintonExDirectory Thu 27-Mar-14 21:56:46

Chinese as a language. Obama's dad. Comparing playing a kindle to losing a parent.

This thread is just the gift that keeps on giving!

JeanSeberg Thu 27-Mar-14 22:07:57

I know Chippy I'm going to bed actually LOLing. grin

IsChippyMintonExDirectory Thu 27-Mar-14 22:15:12

Me too Jean. Maybe the OP should have said to the couple "did you mean to be so rude?" grin

ilovesooty Thu 27-Mar-14 22:26:08

Obama's dad and the origins of racism? Goodness: I've heard it all now. What a bizarre comparison.

JeanSeberg Thu 27-Mar-14 22:28:40

Can we somehow shoehorn Rosa Parks into this? Or the French resistance?

slithytove Thu 27-Mar-14 22:28:59

I thought kindles were for reading?

I do wonder if a similar judgement would have been made if the two kids were sat there reading a book as I did every single meal

JeanSeberg Thu 27-Mar-14 22:30:40

Presumsably they were reading War and Peace in Russian though?

consideringadoption84 Thu 27-Mar-14 22:30:57

I don't like to see children in restaurants using gadgets or devices of any kind but they were being unreasonable to judge you audibly. How did they know your children weren't autistic and needed them? It's also none of anybody else's business what you do or do not allow your children to do. I would have been mortified if you'd come over to me but it would be because I knew I deserved it.

But I don't think I would have bothered going over - too much hassle and potential for conflict. I would have flushed with embarrassment, asked the children to put them away and felt like a failure all evening (yes, I'm that oversensitive!!)

I don't see what's so hilarious about the Chinese comment really. My school offers Mandarin Chinese lessons and they are rarely referred to in full. The children often say they're learning Chinese. I suppose the adults are more likely to say Mandarin but it's just picking one half of the name to abbreviate really isn't it. Does it matter which half? If it's Cantonese then that's different.

JeanSeberg Thu 27-Mar-14 22:31:57

And a Kindle fire is just like any other tablet isn't it with games etc.

enriquetheringbearinglizard Thu 27-Mar-14 22:46:09

Skim read only OP, but you seem to resist being called U, despite

they just think it's a shame when kids have their faces in devices all the time (they said they didn't have children of their own but have noticed it with nephews and neices etc.) I actually agree with this


Silverdaisy Thu 27-Mar-14 22:51:53

Totes, your info stats that the children would only have 15 mins max on the kindle fire. So you waited for the couple to finish their starter. Then went and had a word with them. Why not leave it and show by the time their main course came out that time your children will be sitting without electronics in front of them. Surely that would be a good way to look like the better person?

Nocomet Thu 27-Mar-14 22:53:59

I think DD2 would have given them such a look they would have scuttled back to their table, very quickly.

If she even noticed as she often has headphones on.

MistressDeeCee Thu 27-Mar-14 22:57:46

I wouldnt have ignored. As a mother you have that protective instinct about your DCs, don't you? I see nothing wrong with not ignoring comments made about your children. Why should you? To suit who, exactly? Well done to you. & you handled it in civil fashion too. I do get their point but they probably should have lowered their voices so they couldn't be heard. If you speak loudly about people then its always a possible consequence that they might take you up on what you've said. Too many women are taught or manipulated into being non-assertive so I think its nice you said what you felt you needed to say. Rather than go home and possibly think 'I wish Id said something'. Apologise to nobody for standing up for your DCs smile

flipchart Thu 27-Mar-14 23:01:24

Have you never passed a comment to your DH or a friend that you wouldn't have wanted to have been heard beyond you two.
I'm sure most of us have, even on the spur of the moment but you wouldn't say it to their face. I know I have, (eg when I have been driving and someone else has pulled out on me or, if one one has pushed in, anything.)
I think that was what happened here. Unfortunately they were probably louder than they intended.

I think you are being unreasonable to let them have them gadgets at the table, even for15 mins tbh.

IsChippyMintonExDirectory Thu 27-Mar-14 23:03:11

Apologise to nobody for standing up for your DCs

Goodness me what an over reaction, they just said its a shame when kids are too involved in technology (hardly a shocking comment from a couple in their 60s) it's not like they called them thick or threaten to beat them up and nick their kindles. The OP wasn't "sticking up for her children", she was taking a comment she shouldn't have overheard from an elderly couple far too personally.

TotesAmazebelle Thu 27-Mar-14 23:04:11

Thank you Mistress. As I said, they apologised and said they hoped their comments hadn't spoilt our meal. We had a positive conversation about it.

Martorana Thu 27-Mar-14 23:08:34

You know, in all my 18 years as a parent, and 35 as an involved Aunt, I have never, ever had anyone comment unfavourably on the children I had with me or the way I was looking after them I feel a bit left out- it seems to happen every day to other mumsnetters. Usually by people in their mid 60s- or "old biddies" as they are more accurately called.

I wonder whether I just haven't got the imagination some people have........

Silverdaisy Thu 27-Mar-14 23:10:25

I don't read this as a critique on the children's behaviour, more on the way of parenting.

The children are probably the ideal for most - quiet and not running around the restaurant.

Mistress, really a female being manipulated into conforming? How about just behaving. I would say the same to a man also.

I believe two wrongs don't make a right.

Forgettable Thu 27-Mar-14 23:11:06

Pa hahaha at Chinese you donut

You are being totes unrease OP

<snakenecks with clicky finger thang>

Silverdaisy Thu 27-Mar-14 23:13:36

Sorry * how about behaving politely.

Forgettable Thu 27-Mar-14 23:14:11

Oh fwiw, our adorbs sproglets can play cards, many games under their belts including Shitead, the most comp game in the whole wide world, mastered by them at age 8 and 6.

How d'ya like THEM apples, eh, eh eh?


*'I actually agree with this whey is why I don't let mine play at the table etc. and I told them this. We actually had a pleasant conversation about it.'

You told them you agreed and that is why you don't let them play at the table whilst they were both sat playing AT THE TABLE

Epic fail OP. If you had said that to me I would pointed out the glaring contradiction sniggering at your stupiditt

MistressDeeCee Fri 28-Mar-14 00:28:43

Silverdaisy yes, really actually - I do feel women are manipulated into being non-assertive. Thats why some posters are taking pleasure in telling the OP if someone talks about her children negatively, she should keep her mouth shut.

Never mind that the couple were on their own night out & could have spoken quietly and kept their opinion to themselves - if indeed they had to say anything at all about children who aren't theirs, weren't at the restaurant with them, and are not even known to them.

You can hold onto your right to talk about other people in their hearing as hard as you like - you don't get to choose whether they react to it or not.

Silverdaisy Fri 28-Mar-14 00:49:17

Mistress, I feel that you are deliberately reading an issue that isn't there. A human being heard something they did not like so was rude to a couple of humans. The op was ruder than the mixed gender she approached.

polythenespam Fri 28-Mar-14 00:56:20

A couple in their 60s - I bet that one of them had hearing loss, hence the audible conversation. They weren't being rude, they were talking to each other and what they were saying was valid.

You on the other hand, unbelievably rude to interrupt their meal and prattle on about tutoring.

Sparklysilversequins Fri 28-Mar-14 00:57:07

Firstly I don't believe you did anything of the sort, probably just sat there and seethed silently and secondly I would have told you to buzz off if you came and interrupted my meal.

Silverdaisy Fri 28-Mar-14 00:58:38

Actually do we know if the couple were male/female? I made an assumption there. Apologies.

MistressDeeCee Fri 28-Mar-14 02:19:13

Silverdaisy - Im giving my opinion on a post and as far as I know, its ok to have differing opinions on a subject. I only answered you in the 1st place as you made a comment to me. Apart from that Im responding to the post and I agree with what OP did. Im not fussed if others don't, all are entitled to their own opinions and thats entirely how it should be on an internet board.

SelectAUserName Fri 28-Mar-14 02:35:47

Ah, it's one of those threads.

Majority of MN: YABU
OP: No I'm not, and you're all dim.

You couldn't bear two complete strangers, whose opinion doesn't matter and who you're unlikely to see again, thinking you were the kind of parent who thinks it's acceptable for DCs to play on devices at the dinner, so you felt you had to correct their perception of you as a parent. But hey, guess what - you WERE being the kind of parent who thinks it's acceptable for DCs to play on devices at the dinner table, so their opinion was actually quite valid.

You set quite the example for your DCs, didn't you? Mixed messages about the use of devices at the table, eavesdropping, insecurity, making assumptions, rudely interrupting someone else's meal...

Aventurine Fri 28-Mar-14 07:38:40

I think it was the couple who were rude and it's good that the op challenged them. Op obviously didn't challenge them in a confrontational way because of the way the conversation panned out. The couple were rude to loudly and incorrectly imply that the children would end up with poor conversational skills based on a snapshot. Sitting in a restaurant and passing judgement on other diners indicates that their own conversational skills weren't all that advanced anyway.

UptheChimney Fri 28-Mar-14 07:47:40

The couple were having a private conversation. The OP was eavesdropping.

mercibucket Fri 28-Mar-14 07:50:57

who knows?
op could have been a raving lunatic
what else can a couple in their 60s (or older) do if someone, almost by default aggressively as they are interrupting a private converstion, challenges them? placate the unpredictable nutter seems the safest strategy

wonder if op would be so brave with a different demographic?

ilovesooty Fri 28-Mar-14 07:55:20

I can't believe they actually apologised to you after you so rudely interrupted their meal to regale them with all the self important details of your parenting.

twofingerstoGideon Fri 28-Mar-14 08:02:36

YABU unreasonable, precious and probably an embarrassment to your children.

UptheChimney Fri 28-Mar-14 08:09:21

The unconscious ageism on this thread is interesting. I'm assuming it's not deliberate, but it's interesting, nonetheless.

"A couple in the 60s" could probably still be working. Every day, and gosh! Using computers, tablets, kindles. Not doddery old things unable to keep up with technology.

It is possible to use technology but also to have opinions on when and how use is appropriate. And to be over 30 and still be a fully functioning human being ...

needaholidaynow Fri 28-Mar-14 08:09:26

I would have glared at them instead, so that they know full well that I heard them. A good glare is all you need to do sometimes.

TheBigBumTheory Fri 28-Mar-14 08:12:37


chocolatemademefat Fri 28-Mar-14 08:13:47

Would you have posted if it had gone tits-up for you? They were obviously reasonable and listened to your point of view which was lucky for you and anyone else dining there. Why do you feel the need to justify your actions to anyone? Do you never have opinions on other people?

venturabay Fri 28-Mar-14 08:17:27

Self-important and rude. If you'd bothered talking to your kids then you wouldn't have been eavesdropping anyhow. The couple have a good point - no need for Kindles in a restaurant at the age of 11 and 9.

ilovesooty Fri 28-Mar-14 08:17:31

Perhaps if one or both of the children had been female they could have been given an early life lesson in being assertive by being encouraged to interrupt the meal to explain their mother's amazing parenting grin

Agree with UptheChimney about the ageism. Doubt the OP would have been so brave/rude with a different demographic.

TheBigBumTheory Fri 28-Mar-14 08:19:52

Was trying to type in 'Chinese' but didn't work.

Now my iPad is set in the wrong language and the settings are all in Cantonese so I can't switch it back...because I can't read it...blush

SelectAUserName Fri 28-Mar-14 08:21:50

grin @BigBum

TheBigBumTheory Fri 28-Mar-14 08:24:27

Ok, fixed it by comparing dhs iPad to mine, phew!

Nearly had to sign up to Chinese lessons myself there...grin

CountessOfRule Fri 28-Mar-14 08:25:36

I believe OP proved the couple right. They will dine out on her hysterical* rant for weeks. "We just nodded and smiled. What else could we do? She was raving."


ChunkyPickle Fri 28-Mar-14 08:31:48

It was rather odd to go and have a chat - you don't need to justify yourself! For all they knew you could have been just back from a family debating competition and needed a 15 min. wind-down! No need to explain at all.

DS sometimes has the iphone/ipad if we're eating out - he's generally well behaved, but if dinner takes a while/we're still eating and he's finished then it's good to give him something to do.

Mind you, he's 3, so we're talking every other minute of the day, and if he gets the restaurant crayons (sigh), then I spend most of my time picking them up/being told to colour in bits for him.

"Now my iPad is set in the wrong language and the settings are all in Cantonese so I can't switch it back...because I can't read it.."

Sorry but that is so funny.

For this agreeing with the OP, the couple might have been having a general conversation, sparked by seeing the OP's children.

Completely different to judging the OP. Like many on here would, but wouldn't say it out loud, just rant about it via the same technology that they are judging.

OP, leave other people alone to enjoy their meal in peace and teach your children how to behave appropriately in a restaurant, allow others their opinions, in the process.

I agree with the ageism that MN has running through it.

People are working until their 70's. Doing degrees/PHDs etc in their 40's and 50's, all using computers.

Although it can see why some people are old in their 60's, what with the joyless, martyred lives they inflict upon themselves.

Why spoil your own meal out to react to someone else.

OP if your big on self improvement take a Mindfulness/Calming course, life will be so much more enjoyable, you will learn to control what you allow yourself to react to.

Nancy66 Fri 28-Mar-14 08:42:20

You sound a self-righteous pain in the arse. A couple of strangers made a throwaway comment and aired an opinion they are perfectly entitled to hold. you're lucky they were so reasonable with their response.

Martorana Fri 28-Mar-14 09:01:48

"A couple in their 60s - I bet that one of them had hearing loss, hence the audible conversation"

And Zimmer frames? Probably a touch of Altzheimenr's? They obviously couldn't have known what a Kindle Fire(good that the OP told us what sort of kindle!) was......

Sparklysilversequins Fri 28-Mar-14 09:19:23

My dc have their Itouch or my phone every time we go out and only really put it down to eat. They read to me, ds designs train routes and shows them to me, drawing, puzzles, maths bingo and all the time we are talking discussing what we are doing after the meal, googling transport routes on the underground or cinema times. I refuse to buy into the hysteria and self righteousness surrounding using these devices while out and about.

Pagwatch Fri 28-Mar-14 09:32:01

Good grief, what a fuss about nowt.

I'm not sure why anyone would challenge a couple based on their apparently judgy conversation.
When I used to be out and about with dS2 I had to put up with a huge amount of judgement because he was small and appeared badly behaved. People would comment and it was hardest on ds1 who was beautifully behaved but would hear 'poor parenting' comments and get upset.

I always told him that the best way to pov them wrong was to be dignified . The best way to prove them right was to retort and react.

He did react a few times but he learnt, like I have, that people enjoy their assumptions and will want to cling to them.

I think you were pretty daft and a bit self important op. interrupting someone's privacy to justify yourself may have felt appropriate but in retrospect you should have let it go.

Anyway, being 52 I am going to now go and ask some youths if they can help me switch my iPad off....

rookiemater Fri 28-Mar-14 09:41:40

YANBU, unless other diners are doing something that actively impacts on your meal then it is rude to pass comment about them, so I believe you were justified in retorting to them.

My DF is always moaning about DS being on his electronic device so we don't let him play when we are visiting. Cue DF disappearing off within seconds to do important business on his computer - didn't take DS long to figure out that grandad was off playing on his device but he wasn't allowed to play on his.

We had a good moment in Tenerife once - we were eating out at quite a posh restaurant fairly late with DS age 6 at the time. Due to these two factors and the fact that we are fairly lazy arsed parents DS was playing with the i-pad but it was not visible as it was under the table . An older couple who were sitting nearby came to congratulate us on our well behaved offspring - we were really worried they said, when we saw him there, thought he would spoil our evening. Excellent cats bum faces from the pair when we show them the i-pad, tee hee.

Thetallesttower Fri 28-Mar-14 09:44:01

Martorana sadly lots of people in their sixties have hearing loss, this is not unusual and many start wearing hearing aids around then. By eighty, most people have some hearing loss and my very elderly relatives are lovely but they can't hear what you say, unless you speak extremely loudly in a way that can seem patronising.

I'm amazed the OP could hear a remark though, over a family of 5 inbetween. Amazed and dubious

blanchedeveraux Fri 28-Mar-14 10:29:34

She totally shot herself in the foot with the "Chinese" remark. She couldn't even backtrack and say it was shorthand for Mandarin as she then claimed to have said it "facetiously".

I think the whole thing's a load of old toot that spectacularly backfired.

LaQueenOfTheSpring Fri 28-Mar-14 10:33:16

If you know that your DCs wouldn't usually play on their Kindles at the dinner table, then I really don't understand why you would be bothered by the observations of two random strangers?

LaQueenOfTheSpring Fri 28-Mar-14 10:34:09

Oh I have to read the whole thread, rather than just the first page hmm

blanchedeveraux Fri 28-Mar-14 10:37:39

Give it a got LaQueen, had me lolling before I popped off to bed last night.

Forgettable Fri 28-Mar-14 10:38:31

You do need to read the Chinese bit, laQueen, just for the lolz

LaQueenOfTheSpring Fri 28-Mar-14 10:39:15

"Agree with UptheChimney about the ageism. Doubt the OP would have been so brave/rude with a different demographic."

Hell yeah...if the OP had righteously marched up to me in those circumstances, she would have been verbally reduced to a small smear of crisped fat on the restaurant floor hmm

IdkickJilliansAss Fri 28-Mar-14 10:39:40

You provided them with something to talk about, consider that a public service

IdkickJilliansAss Fri 28-Mar-14 10:41:13

Bit odd to want to 'reduce someone to a small smear' for quietly calling you out on talking about them and their DC

InAGrump Fri 28-Mar-14 11:02:06


it was rude to interrupt someone else's meal

it is rude to sit for quarter of an hour in a restaurant on an electronic device

If you hear a comment,make a reply don't wait, think of what you would like to say and then go and have a 5 minute conversation about it.

The moment went, you missed it, move on

Dinosaursareextinct Fri 28-Mar-14 11:06:47

I don't think there's anything wrong with calmly talking to someone else in a restaurant - if we were a more civilised lot, we would feel more comfortable about actually communicating with those around us.

AdminGirl Fri 28-Mar-14 11:07:35

I'd have been seething if someone interrupted me and my partner mid course!!

whyisthishappening Fri 28-Mar-14 11:08:17

It seems obvious to me.

It's rude to make loud personal remarks directed towards others that are within hearing distance. It is none of their business how you raise your children and very judgmental of them. They were bad mannered.

You had no need to justify yourself to them and you would have been well within your rights to have told them to keep their comments to themselves but you would have been bettered mannered to have just ignored them.

SirChenjin Fri 28-Mar-14 11:13:50

Well done OP.

If diners wish to pass comment on other well behaved diners then they need to improve their own art of conversation and do it quietly, otherwise they run the risk of said diners putting them quietly and politely in their place. The only smear of crisped fact were the ill mannered diners who, one would hope, will learn to keep their opinions on such matters to themselves from now on.

SirChenjin Fri 28-Mar-14 11:14:25

fat not fact

ilovesooty Fri 28-Mar-14 12:07:47

I agree with LaQueen The OP is very lucky she wasn't told where to get off, but she made sure of that by giving the self righteous parenting treatment to someone unlikely to tell her how rude her behaviour was. It's not as if they criticised her directly or even commented loudly on the next table.

SirChenjin Fri 28-Mar-14 12:11:18

They commented loudly enough that the OP and her children 2 tables away were able to hear them loudly and clearly. If you are so ignorant as to comment on other diners whose behaviours are not impacting directly upon you then you have to accept the consequences of your ill mannered behaviour.

ilovesooty Fri 28-Mar-14 12:14:31

To hear something loudly and clearly from two tables away with a family party in between she would have had to be actively listening / eavesdropping. She can't even prove that the actual comment was specifically directed at her or simply part of a general discussion.

Sparklysilversequins Fri 28-Mar-14 12:17:40

"It is rude to sit for a quarter of an hour in a restaurant on an electronic device"

Rude to whom?

What on earth business is it of anyone not sitting at my table how long any of my party spend on an electronic device?

Suzyjane1 Fri 28-Mar-14 12:32:44

I think the issue about whether you should have gone over or not is neither here nor there. The real issue is that you don't have to feel the need to justify yourself to mere strangers.
However you were clearly standing up for your children and I can totally understand. I actually would probably have done the same as you!

gotthemoononastick Fri 28-Mar-14 12:34:38

Did it make you feel big and better to confront two older people and spoil their evening?
I would have taken a long time to get over this episode.They were not speaking to you at all and had a right to make an observation.

Apologise schmologise!!Leave people alone.This is why people walk past bleeding children in public places.

Dinosaursareextinct Fri 28-Mar-14 12:36:13

The OP actually agreed with the childless couple's general views, and was just pointing out that her children were not as they were coming across. It would have been a more interesting discussion if her children had been the type to spend all their time on electronic devices, and she was defending that. A bit of a non-argument, really.

IdkickJilliansAss Fri 28-Mar-14 12:42:00

Oh come ooooonnn, the kind of people who it'd take 'a long time to get over the episode' of being spoken to not even shouted at are the type of people that wouldn't be gobbing off loud enough for someone to hear to tables away.

SirChenjin Fri 28-Mar-14 12:46:42

Regardless of whether or not it was a 'general discussion' that she overheard clearly, it's ignorant and ill mannered to discuss other diners whose behaviour does not impact directly upon you. As such, you have to accept the consequences of those diners pulling you up for your ignorance. Think of it as a lesson learned.

gotthemoononastick Fri 28-Mar-14 13:07:19

Did you sit down whilst 'talking to them',or did you tower over their table?Damn lucky for you that it was not DH and I, as he would have told you your fortune in a magnificently gentlemanly way.

I would have been a shaking wreck and my evening spoiled and yes,it would have taken a long time to get over this.

Self importance much in thinking they were even discussing you!

Next time get a dinner companion to go with you so that you don't need to eavesdrop.

Dinosaursareextinct Fri 28-Mar-14 13:11:17

Gotthe - How would your gentlemanly DH behave if a neighbouring table were discussing, so that you could overhear, how much your children irritated them or how ugly they were? Would you just talk more loudly so as not to "eavesdrop"?

Scholes34 Fri 28-Mar-14 13:11:49

The elderly couple were quite right - the prevalence of electronic devises has helped kill conversation and they were perfectly within their right to make that comment to each other. The sight of your DC on their devises was obviously enough to prompt the private comment between themselves. You were definitely being U to approach them as you did.

Viviennemary Fri 28-Mar-14 13:14:43

If your DC's were not disturbing other diners then these people had no business making comments. But I take it you overheard them. They made a judgement. People do. I don't think you should have approached them. So faults on both sides.

TrevaronGirl Fri 28-Mar-14 13:17:00

I think you handled the situation quite well.

IdkickJilliansAss Fri 28-Mar-14 13:23:27

'Towered over their table' grin grin now I NEED to know how tall the OP is!

IslaValargeone Fri 28-Mar-14 13:24:01

I agree with a lot of people on this thread.

gotthemoononastick Fri 28-Mar-14 13:26:36

Dinosaur...this would never have happened as they have Victorian table manners and are the most beautiful children on the planet.

SparklySocks Fri 28-Mar-14 13:28:48

People without kids always know best. Were you not aware of that OP? grin

Martorana Fri 28-Mar-14 13:35:11

The next thread where it is considered entirely reasonable to make judgements about people because they are "elderly" ie over 60, I will report and see if MNHQ actually care about casual ageism.

kungfupannda Fri 28-Mar-14 13:38:07

Thinking about this, the OP was actually pretty illogical.

She agreed with the couple about not allowing gadgets at the table. There's presumably a reason for that rule, and the most likely reasons are that she thinks it's rude/unnecessary/takes the place of conversation.

So she went to challenge them about a rule that she actually agrees with, but had decided to break on this particular occasion for reasons specific to her own family and own situation.

IdkickJilliansAss Fri 28-Mar-14 13:38:16

Wouldn't your fortune telling husband have foretold the incident moononastick?

gotthemoononastick Fri 28-Mar-14 14:09:53

Jillian...crystal ball long gone,but he certainly can still kick the ass!

Aventurine Fri 28-Mar-14 14:09:55

OP wasn't hiding behind a door eavesdropping, she was openly sitting in a restaurant and the people made their comment loudly enough for her to hear. People who make passive aggressive comments about what people near them are doing are irritating.

IdkickJilliansAss Fri 28-Mar-14 14:24:13

grin verbally I hope!

MillyONaire Fri 28-Mar-14 14:26:25

Well at least the art of eavesdropping is alive and well in your neck of the woods!!

Dinosaursareextinct Fri 28-Mar-14 14:27:48

Was once at a UK airport and heard a German couple talking to each other in German about how crap English people are. Apparently English people being crap also involves none of us understanding German so they could be as rude (and loud) as they wanted. Half wish I had pulled them up on it, but I half agreed with them...

gotthemoononastick Fri 28-Mar-14 14:30:40

Yes Jillian,only ever verbally and always to the highest Silk standard.I like you by the way...clever gel.

brdgrl Fri 28-Mar-14 14:36:57

Whatever the content of what they said, you concede that you genuinely were not meant to hear it, so - while it might burn a bit - the civil thing for you to do was to take no notice. You might be forgiven a sharp look that let them know they'd spoken too loudly - but I think it was going too far to confront them.

Floggingmolly Fri 28-Mar-14 14:48:34

I really do try to remember that we never know the circumstances
So you shove the circumstances down the throat of anyone who looks crooked at you? What you said sounds as sanctimonious as be damned; I bet they thought you were a right bloody loon.
The nerve of you, getting in their faces like that! They weren't actually speaking to you at all...
I'd have complained if you'd approached me, however "pleasant" you wrongly imagine you were.

squizita Fri 28-Mar-14 14:55:02

Doesn't sound unreasonable. You were polite. If you'd shouted the odds it would be totally different.

And if they'd said it to be heard it is a very English form of bullying relying on the other person not calling them for it.

SirChenjin Fri 28-Mar-14 14:57:58

The civil thing to do would have been to have a "general conversation" in tones loud enough to be heard 2 tables away about ill mannered people who feel it necessary to pass judgement on others who are causing them no harm whatsoever.

MIL does this all the time. She feels it's her place to comment on others. It isn't, it's ignorant and makes her look foolish.

squizita Fri 28-Mar-14 14:59:55

At the beach in France, my mum overheard a stranger slagging off her "huge tall pink Scottish body" in Frenchy (we're not actually Scottish, and to this day aren't sure why she added the racial element) and saying she should be ashamed to shower on the beach.

My mum didn't say anything to her, but turned around and started chatting in fluent French to her friend. Then gave a terrifying 'you do KNOW I can understand you' glare (down at her: my mum is rather Amazonian) ... the woman skulked off. grin

Some people really do rely on others not hearing/not understanding to be damn rude.

squizita Fri 28-Mar-14 15:00:42

Frenchyy??? Stupid typo. French. The language not the Grease character.

TryingToBePractical Fri 28-Mar-14 15:12:55

It sounds to me like you have double standards about this. There are lots of things I judge (I love a good old judge but would not comment out loud and always remind myself I am only seeing a snapshot). Very occasionally I find myself doing one of those things I judge (which are of course fine in moderation). If someone happened to see me doing so, then I would think it would be fair enough to judge and would not feel the need to point out that the last time we went to Macdonalds was 2 years ago so I should not be judged the same as a serial Macdonalds goer.
Your posts suggest that you agree that children using devices when out for dinner is not great, but you somehow expect others to know that of course this is different and every other meal you have been out for you have all sat discussing Tolstoy or the situation in the Ukraine.

I had a situation like this the other night. DD was late coming home from gymnastics, so I agreed we could pick up a takeaway on the way home. We very rarely get takeaways and never on a week night. As she was sitting at home eating chicken and chips (at 9 in the evening!), our new neighbour arrived to ask if we would mind taking her DD to school the next morning. DH invited her in for a coffee so she witnessed DD and her (late) takeaway. No doubt she judged us as lazy parents who stuff their DC was takeaway. But I think it is kind of funny.

ilovedogsandcats Fri 28-Mar-14 15:28:33

If I'd seen your children I'd have silently judged.

mercibucket Fri 28-Mar-14 15:43:38

frenchy sounds a great language

SirChenjin Fri 28-Mar-14 15:44:20

Silently judging = fine - how many of us don't do that?! Vocalising that judgement in earshot of the judgee (is that a word?!) = not fine

TryingToBePractical Fri 28-Mar-14 15:57:38

I agree the couple were rude if they said it out loud knowing they would or could be heard. But OP seems upset as much about what they were judging for not just the fact it was said out loud. She felt the need not just to point out they were rude to speak out loud but also to justify the use of the devices in her particular circumstances while agreeing in general that the use of devices in restaurants is rude.

AchyFox Fri 28-Mar-14 16:01:21

Do you find yourself "having a quiet word" with quite a lot of people OP ?

Maybe you are the comment-police.grin

SirChenjin Fri 28-Mar-14 16:05:46

Which is fine.....

An analogy that popped into my head is this: imagine if my DD (14) fell pregnant. We went out for a meal, and a couple 2 tables up from us saw her and started having a 'general conversation' about how they disapproved of teenage pregnancy in tones so loud that we were able to hear clearly. Now, as a parent, I would be far from thrilled if she was pregnant, and I would have communicated that to her very clearly whilst respecting her decision to continue with the pregnancy. However, I would not let their conversation go unchallenged, and so I would do what the OP did - I would be extremely (some might say icily) polite, but they would be left in no doubt as to the inappropriateness and ill mannered nature of their loud 'general conversation'.

squizita Fri 28-Mar-14 16:12:17

I have sat in a restaurant as the rather tanked-up uncouth family on the table over have had a lively discussion about whether I was anorexic or bulimic (crudely- referring to 'eye eye she's gonna go throw it up' when I went to the loo and laughing "Well it won't be to change her tampax like that could have periods... disgusting!")

It was rather odd as whilst I am I suppose slimmish, I in no way look underweight. I have a large bust and bottom. I'm size 10 not size 0.

As I walked back I am afraid I just said "What are you on about?" as if they were complete idiots in a very icy tone.

Just as well I did. My BF was going to do exactly as they were doing to me, back to them, about the very obvious cheap wig the man was wearing.

ArtexMonkey Fri 28-Mar-14 16:18:40

There is a thread elsewhere on here about someone being very upset having had two rude children shout 'fatty' at her while their mothers collapsed laughing.

Disgusting i'm sure we all agree smile

Imagine if an overweight person in a restaurant overheard two children going 'ugh it's disgusting they shouldn't serve chips to fat people they should make them have salad'

Would it be 'eavesdropping', 'rude', 'spoiling for a fight', 'invading their space' etc etc to go and tear a strip off them? No of course not. There is kind of a reverse ageism on mn though, where children have to be PERFECT at all times, and old people (old enough to know better) are allowed to be rude as fuck. I find.

sunshinenanny Fri 28-Mar-14 16:32:31

Have you noticed these days that certain people have to have an opinion on everythinghmm

It's not necessary! I agree with Thumper's dad in Bambi 2If you can't say something nice; Don't say nothing at all!grin

sunshinenanny Fri 28-Mar-14 16:33:55

sorry Got the " on that Quote a bit mixed up"

sunshinenanny Fri 28-Mar-14 16:36:30

Oh by the way I'm 61! I keep telling that to the 18 year old girl trying to get out. some people were born old miseriessmile

Snatchoo Fri 28-Mar-14 16:37:11

I wouldn't have said anything, but I think you handled it well.

Why did it bother you so much though?

Leggingsandtrainersnonono Fri 28-Mar-14 16:42:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArtexMonkey Fri 28-Mar-14 16:54:05

See, x posts with squizita, that is shock

I am GOBSMACKED at the notion that it's perfectly fine to talk really obviously about someone, as long as you don't talk to them.

People who think this, sorry, but were you all dragged up?

Aventurine Fri 28-Mar-14 19:47:52

So presumably when I go to a restaurant I can sit and insult the other diners as much as I like and they can't complain because they are the ones in the wrong for eavesdropping. confused

I would have judged you and found you lacking. It's appalling how kids are bloody hot wired to bloody electronic devices and am shocked that kids of they age would sit at a table at home during dinner with one let alone in a restaurant.

IMO it is the very height of bad manners and should but be allowed.

l12ngo Sat 29-Mar-14 02:29:35

Think you did admirably here. Kept civil but also educated them. Doing nothing would have just reinforced their beliefs. The fact you had a pleasant conversation afterwards shows that you were right (and fair enough too that they were able to accept their misconceptions were wrong).

LibraryMum8 Sat 29-Mar-14 02:46:29

YANBU to feel that way but yabu, IMO to have said something.

firesidechat Sat 29-Mar-14 09:10:44

OBVIOUSLY this is NOT the same as that. But people don't tend to stand up for anything any more.

Totes I'm a stand up kind of person. I've chased shoplifters out of shops and challenged trespassing youths, amongst other things. Not the same as your situation at all. In the cases I mentioned people were behaving illegally or dangerously, in yours a couple were having a private conversation and you felt a need to be very rude to them.

I now think that you are being very unreasonable just for trying to set yourself up as a moral crusader.

JeanSeberg Sat 29-Mar-14 09:12:36

Educated them about what though?

UptheChimney Sat 29-Mar-14 09:21:13

Kept civil but also educated them. Doing nothing would have just reinforced their beliefs

Oh, the smugness of the righteous! Because of course, this couple knew nothing not being mummies and all that ...

Only1scoop Sat 29-Mar-14 09:31:05

Great to be 'educated' by some earwigging diner whilst you attempt' to enjoy an evening out

If the menu was in real authentic 'Chinese' dc could have joined in also....grin

squizita Sat 29-Mar-14 10:11:42

Earwigging is interesting. Because it does depend on the speaker... although I reckon most of us could tell f it was genuine or to-be-heard.

As part of my job I work with anti-bullying and something that has always been around in RL but only seems to be acknowledged in recent years is the blatantly saying something 'to be overheard' so you cannot be identified as a name-caller. I wonder if it being identified only more recently in leaflets etc' because it is a far more British thing (we are less likely to challenge, more reserved than other nations) and "but I didn't want them to hear" is a defense.
Hence, since before I was born (you can see it on films and TV way back) the 'loud pointed comment' happens, but etiquette meant you treated it like a genuinely overheard comment - even if it was louder and said with a smirk.

Caitlin17 Sat 29-Mar-14 10:45:37

Of course the couple were pleasant. Most people wouldn't want to cause a scene when confronted by this bonkers woman telling them what a fantastic parent she is.

LaQueenOfTheSpring Sat 29-Mar-14 11:03:34

What intrigues me, is exactly why the OP thought for one second that the other couple would give a shit about her opinion hmm

I'm sure they smiled and nodded along politely, when subjected to her tirade...but, I would assume that their internal monologue comprised of 'Oh my God, I cannot believe she is actually standing there lecturing us...better smile and agree with everything she says because she could be irrational, and who knows what she might do next...oh, look I reckon my pasta is going cold, the cheese is going all gloopy, I hate it when it does that...Oh I wish she would hurry up, before my food goes really cold...I hate eating cold food...I can't believe she is still talking...I have nodded and agreed with her, what more does she want for Heaven's sake?'

I go through life privately judging about all sorts on a daily basis...but I am never so disingenuous as to fool myself that the person I am privately judging, would ever actually give a shit about what I thought. Why on Earth should they?

IsChippyMintonExDirectory Sat 29-Mar-14 11:24:53

LaQueen grin

If I got approached by every person me and DH made a comment about when put for a meal is never get flippin home. If anyone has ever seen date night we do in restaurants what the couple do beforehand and try to guess who people on other tables are and if it's their first date efc.

I think we need to remember the elderly couple didn't actually insult anyone, they're quite fairly said that kids who have their noses in gadgets in a restaurant won't be good at actually holding a conversation at the dinner table. To me that's a generic comment, aimed at no one in particular, inspired by something they've observed at the time - anyone on here who says they don't do similar is a big fat liar.

amicissimma Sat 29-Mar-14 11:26:48

Playing with electronic devices at the table: mildly bad-mannered but no big deal. Fairly usual.

Passing remarks about fellow-diners: mildly bad-mannered but no big deal. Fairly usual. Quite fun

Listening in to the conversation of fellow diners: moderately bad-mannered. Not that much of a deal. Fairly usual. Quite fun

Getting up and interrupting other diners and commenting on their conversation: unbelievable rude. Extremely unusual.

Going on to total strangers about how you raise your children: are you on glue?

rookiemater Sat 29-Mar-14 11:31:49

Passing remarks about fellow-diners: mildly bad-mannered but no big deal. Yes - provided the fellow diners cannot hear the remarks. The fact that the couple spoke loudly enough for the OP to hear means IMHO they were fair game.

I agree with Laqueen, I doubt for one nano-second they actually changed their mind on the electronic device question, however I'm damn sure they will think twice before they comment audibly about their fellow diners again, which is just as it should be.

LaQueenOfTheSpring Sat 29-Mar-14 11:42:00

I don't think it actually really happened. I just don't.

I think the OP probably did overhear the comment...but, then the rest is just the scene she would have liked to have en-acted.

In reality, I think the OP heard the comment, and just sat there seething for the rest of the meal - made all the worse, because she knew that what the couple said was completely accurate...and I suspect that deep down, the OP knows that her DCs spend waaaaay too much time on their gadgets for her liking.

But, rather than actually dealing with the issue, she made herself feel better by re-imagining the whole scenario very differently - where she re-creates herself as some crusading SuperMum, who strode across the restaurant resplendent in her Cape of Righteousness...and in ringing tones, spoke unto the ignorant masses and showeth them the error of their meagre ways - and the humble masses were truly forsaken at her words, and pleadeth with dire contrition - and swore, never more would they show forth their ignorance in a place of eating...

And SuperMum looked on, and saw with gladden eye, that what she had created was good...


Whatwhatwhat Sat 29-Mar-14 11:55:16

Wow. So many people on here are so nasty.

Misspixietrix Sat 29-Mar-14 11:56:18

YNBU. They'd have also complained if your DCs started fidgeting. Given my most MN Bunfights over children in restaurants wtc I'm sure they'd much rather have someones DCs sat still with devices in their faces whilst waiting for their dinner. I don't agree with devices at the table per se. The worst culprits are adults by the way! But I wouldn't begrudge a DC 15mins device time whilstwaiting.

Floggingmolly Sat 29-Mar-14 12:00:41

grin LaQueen. You're almost certainly right.

flipchart Sat 29-Mar-14 12:09:39

Whether the scenario happened or not is neither here nor there to me but it reminded me of two things.

First was at a large family meal we went on last year with 30 odd members of the extended family. I'm telling my kids that thy can't take their mobiles and pads to play on because it is a big social meal but after the first course most of the 20 something weren't talking to each other as used to happen but most were playing on their own phones. My boys were giving me the evils because they were lest out!

The second thing I remember is that when I went out for a meal in north Iceland last autumn one of the restaurants brought iPads over for the kids. In the very recent past kids got some crayons and a sheet of paper to colour in.

Times are changing!

ImpOfDarkness Sat 29-Mar-14 12:14:46

Was once at a UK airport and heard a German couple talking to each other in German about how crap English people are

Friend of mine had a German couple being rude about him in a restaurant until he leaned over and introduced himself. Professor of German at a very very famous university grin

complexnumber Sat 29-Mar-14 12:21:13

I probably would have said nothing.

But if I had had a couple of glasses I might have pointed out that others could hear their conversation, and asked if they were happy with that?

nauticant Sat 29-Mar-14 13:53:36

"I've been listening to your conversation you know."

"That's nice. Can we get back to our meal now please?"

l12ngo Sat 29-Mar-14 16:08:26


Educated them about what though?

About her circumstances


Oh, the smugness of the righteous! Because of course, this couple knew nothing not being mummies and all that ...

Yeah, because the couple passing judgement loud enough to be overheard in the restaurant weren't self righteous at all....


Great to be 'educated' by some earwigging diner whilst you attempt' to enjoy an evening out

If 'enjoying an evening out' comprises of sitting there criticising people on another table loud enough that you're overheard, then there's a good chance you'll get pulled up for your rudeness.

ilovesooty Sat 29-Mar-14 16:21:19

About her circumstances

Now I wonder who that "education" was designed to benefit...

Floggingmolly Sat 29-Mar-14 16:23:32

Why would a couple of strangers be presumed to give a shiny shite about her circumstances, much less be grateful for the earful they were subjected to?
The sheer arrogance...

LaQueenOfTheSpring Sat 29-Mar-14 16:57:14

I think I must live in a parallel universe.

I cannot think of anyone I know who would dutifully listen to a mini lecture like this, from the OP before dutifully tugging their forelock/bobbing a curtsey in gratitude.

Which is why I don't think it ever actually happened.

daisydoo222 Sat 29-Mar-14 17:06:05


Personally I think the couple were right and if I saw any children in a restaurant playing on a DS/gadget I'd probably be saying the same thing.

No way on this Earth, no matter how hard their day had been, would my children even step into a restaurant holding an electronic device, let alone play on one at the table!

It was extremely rude of you to confront them.

You could have just shrugged the comment off but you probably ruined their meal out.

And in doing so you made yourself look like a complete knob.

Now they'll go away telling everybody about this "disgraceful mother and her two children playing on these gadgets....what has come to the world?...that never would have happened in our day..." blah blah

Caitlin17 Sat 29-Mar-14 17:18:15

LaQueen oh I can imagine it. Years ago I was having a scone and a cup of tea in the cafe of a stately house with my son then aged 7. An old woman came up to me and berated me loudly for not thanking her for holding the door open for me in the ladies. I've no idea if she did or not, I didn't remember seeing her. I was there on my own with my son as husband and I we were going through a bad patch and frankly my mind was on other things. She wouldn't stop and no amount of "I'm sorry, I didn't see you, I'm thinking of other things, my life is currently in ruins" would make her shut up. She ruined the day.

Ok I didn't thank her, but her behaviour was far, far ruder.

CountessOfRule Sat 29-Mar-14 17:20:33

I once spoke to the next table in a restaurant - they were so loud and offensive (racist jokes) we had asked to be moved. I told them what I thought of them before we left.

I was very, very hormonal.

It was excruciating for DH, for me, and possibly for the teenagers I was addressing. I can't pretend anybody benefited, unless by some miracle they toned it down after we moved. Unlikely, given the jibes they aimed at us as we left.

Just don't do what OP and I did, anyone. You'll look like a prize twat.

NoodleOodle Sat 29-Mar-14 18:52:37

Is a conversation private if you're having it loudly in a restaurant? What level of privacy can we expect/demand when eating out?

I think it depends on the place, as you could be seated school bench style, or on eperate tables spaced a chair's width apart, in booths, or private enclaves/rooms.

This couple could be overheard. I hope no one gets to 60 and doesn't understand what level their 'indoor voice' needs to be to not be overheard. And, if they were hard of hearing as has been suggested up thread, surely they would have been more aware that they would have to have been speaking to each other in raised voices to be herd by each other, and that they could therefore be overheard by others.

Based on this, I don't feel like the couple had a reasonable expectation that their remarks were part of a private conversation, and more suspect they were a ig at the OP. And, in that situation, I conclude that what she did was appropriate- challenge their view in a non aggressive way.

Why all the jokes about 'Chinese', maybe I don't have a sense of humour but... where's the joke?

NoodleOodle Sat 29-Mar-14 19:04:16

the prevalence of electronic devises has helped kill conversation

People used to be anxious and judgemental over TV too.

rookiemater Sat 29-Mar-14 19:07:20

Ok so this appears to be some Mumsnetters view of the world.

You are out in public. Someone in the vicinity is doing something you do not approve of. It does not impact you, or your family, in any way whatsoever. You are apparently perfectly within your rights to comment loudly about what this other person is doing, so loudly in fact that they can hear you and yet whatever they are doing does not impact you, or your family, in any way.

If the other person hears you criticizing what you are saying - as they are likely to because you aren't using your indoor voice, then they apparently are the crazed loon if they choose to take issue with your unnecessary commentary about their activity.

Imagine if the elderly couple had said "Gosh there's a lot of fat porkers about these days guzzling big meals " and the OP was overweight. Should she just suck it up on that occasion,because well there is a lot of fat people and perhaps the elderly couple weren't referring to her. I think the MN consensus would be rather different in that case.

So why should her parenting be on trial and her evening meal spoiled by loud criticism, which apparently she should just let wash over her, or indeed suck it up because she is completely in the wrong hmm. What her DCs were doing had zero impact on the couple, when they chose to start mouthing off loudly, they were the ones with no manners, not the OP.

daisydoo222 Sat 29-Mar-14 19:17:26

rookiemater - they were the ones with no manners, not the OP

No her children were the ones with no manners! DS's at the table in a restaurant? WTF? Incredibly rude!

Fair enough it didn't really have an impact on the other couple but I think they were right in what they said.

Maybe parents need to be reminded of table manners themselves sometimes.

As far as how loudly they said it - maybe they didn't realise how loud they were, the OP said herself that they were elderly so maybe they were slightly hard of hearing.

ilovesooty Sat 29-Mar-14 19:18:34

If the OP had a child/children with a disability and had overheard comments obviously directed at her parenting of them and criticism of their behaviour I can absolutely understand why she'd want to challenge any comments she overheard and possibly educate people at the same time.

Overhearing general comments about electronic gadgets which might have been stimulated by her NT(presumably) children's activity is hardly in the same league.

Parents of children with hidden disabilities will be sick to death of being judged and upset by the ignorance they encounter. Parents like the OP just seem like self righteous rude idiots determined to tell others what brilliant parents they are. If, as LaQueen says, it ever even happened.

ArtexMonkey Sat 29-Mar-14 19:23:09

Obviously the polite acceptable response would have been for the op and her dc to comment loudly on what miserable arseholes old people are and how looking at their cats bum faces was putting them off their food.

Then if the old people didn't like it, well tough shit for earwigging.

ilovesooty Sat 29-Mar-14 19:28:22

Mid sixties is old is it?

rookiemater Sat 29-Mar-14 19:35:33

It's a bit disingenuous to suggest that the couple were having a general chit chat about electronic gadgets. The OP states that they were shaking their heads and as they were two tables away from her, it is pretty certain that it was more than just idle conversation.

My understanding of etiquette is that it is incredibly rude to remark on someone else's behavior if it is not impacting on your own.

I'm not quite understanding the hysteria around the kindle fires - would it be ok for the DCs to draw, or read a book instead and if so why, as these are still ways of not making conversation.

And no daisydoo222 I wouldn't really appreciate being reminded of table manners by a childless elderly couple when I'm out at a restaurant.

Provided I have ensured that my DS is not impacting negatively on their meal in any way by making sure he sits in his chair at the table, does not make any unnecessary noise and eats in a polite fashion, then I'm pretty sure I have discharged all the obligations to other diners in the vicinity.

ArtexMonkey Sat 29-Mar-14 19:40:20

No, mid sixties isn't old, but then electronic gadgets aren't killing the art of conversation either.

Take it up with daisydoo too, she called them elderly, oh and all the people who think maybe their hearing was going


daisydoo222 Sat 29-Mar-14 19:49:37

I think gadgets are killing children's social and playing skills. I also think that over use affects their behaviour.

TBH I'm not really that arsed. My kids spend a very limited amount of time on gadgets. My stepkids have every gadget under the sun and it doesn't go down well when we restrict their use but they are much happier children when they're not using them.

I think parents rely on them far too much as a way of keeping their children quiet so they don't have to bother talking to them or playing with them.

I dread to think what this generation's kids are going to turn out like because of this shit lazy parenting that so many parents try to convince themselves is OK.

AchyFox Sat 29-Mar-14 20:44:14

So was it Mandarin or Cantonese ?

Sorry can't be arsed to scan the whole thread.blush

AchyFox Sat 29-Mar-14 20:47:07

Oh OK it was What-difference-does-it-make-what-language-it-was-?! language.

Things are crystal clear now. smile

Sandytrousers Sat 29-Mar-14 21:38:17

Hilarious! The OP's offspring demonstrate inability to sit chatting at a table in a restaurant.

May or may not have been commented on by other diners, at least a table away.

OP heaves over to give them a lesson in etiquette; during course of her generous opinion-sharing concedes that she too disagrees with children who use screens instead of speaking in restaurants.

OP also indulges in some toe-curling show-offs about her unbelievably over-scheduled children.

I have had such fun reading this. So glad you didn't stick by your principles, OP, and take the poor kids home if they were too wilted to chat.

And I bet the couple were thrilled at your gauche interruption of their evening.

Like LaQueen, my bullshit radars are beeping.

I don't believe anyone could be so ignorant yet so self-righteous and then seek validation from strangers.


brdgrl Sat 29-Mar-14 22:03:00

I'm more shocked by the posters saying "elderly" and "old" about a couple in their mid-sixties! Hee!

TeaAndALemonTart Sat 29-Mar-14 22:12:21

If this actually happened I would have told you to sit back fucking down. Then I would have talked really loudly about how rude it is to comment on a private conversation.

But personally I think you're pulling our legs.

UptheChimney Sat 29-Mar-14 22:31:45

I wouldn't really appreciate being reminded of table manners by a childless elderly couple when I'm out at a restaurant

And I wouldn't really appreciate being reminded of table manners by a smug knowitall busybody mummy when I'm out at a restaurant.

IsChippyMintonExDirectory Sun 30-Mar-14 00:55:16

This should go in classics. Any thread about Chinese-learning kindle Fire playing over scheduled kids, a mum who strongly disagrees with children playing gadgets in restaurants and expressing this sentiment while her kids play on gadgets in a restaurant and the mention of Obamas dad swooping in to change the belief of hard core racists simply cannot ever be forgotten about. I've read this whole thread thinking I'm reading a comedy script

limitedperiodonly Sun 30-Mar-14 17:34:13

There was a time when I would have given them both barrels but I've calmed down a lot since then because I realised it made me look insane.

And these days it would be bound to end up on YouTube.

Luckily I learned my lesson before.

BTW since when was 60s elderly? Mick Jagger's 70.

squizita Sun 30-Mar-14 18:44:06

Lots of grown adults here forgetting that it is poor manners not to use 'indoor voices' indoors (especially when saying something which might upset others) loud enough to be heard by diners in a public place. As I've mentioned before - a very British rudeness, relying on everyone else just to sit there quietly and politely for fear of being a 'rude evesdropper' and listen to you slagging them off - lest you tick them off for listening in. Absoutely hypocritical! "I can be rude and loud... but I'll call anyone who objects nosey and rude."

Listening in to your innocent conversation is not the same as being rude about other people in a too-loud voice.

Use that level of volume to say something unkind and your 'dishing it out' so should expect some comment back.

Wurstwitch Sun 30-Mar-14 18:52:54

Aye. Probably deef, them being so old and whatnot. Op Wouldn't have heard if they hadn't had to shout at each other.

Raw nerve much?

squizita Sun 30-Mar-14 19:38:47

Deaf? Raw nerve? Not sure where that came from really.
If they were deaf then it wouldn't be at all what I was talking about - but we've all known of obvious examples in RL if we're honest: the glance up and down of the alternatively dressed person with a 'ooh look at her!'; the rude teens at bus-stops sniggering at someone; the cliquey one talking to her friend loudly about her superior life while glaring eyeballs at the rival. That is not the same as an accident: it is rude and the intention is to flout good manners by saying something rude with EVERY intention that the other person will hear... and then hide behind manners by tutting at their earwigging/forwardness if they come and object.

Nothing to do with age or being deaf. It's a common trope in fiction and movies from Dickens to 'Mean Girls' as well ... the deliberately-slightly-too-loud-arch-comment. The (nicer, polite) person is expected to keep quiet.

Just rather surprised how many people act as if this doesn't exist.

To me, it's actually worse than just being plain rude because it's messing with the 'rules' - twisting them so you can be heard saying something upsetting, without any risk of payback.

I wonder if those who deny it happens find it touches a nerve with them? I'm afraid to say it is something I think most of us - albeit many in a teenage cliquey phase - will have done to a lesser extent. But there do seem to be certain folk who do it all through life - often judgementally and from a sense of the moral highground.

limitedperiodonly Sun 30-Mar-14 22:03:33

Some English people were once very rude about DH and me - mostly DH - in a restaurant in Spain. It was a mixed group of those pissed and braying 40 and 50-something Yachties who infest the Mediterranean in summer like Boden-clad pirates.

I think they presumed we were French, Italian or Spanish - hilarious in itself, isn't it? hmm - from our clothes, which were obviously also hilarious, not being drab tat.

We didn't say anything but it ruined the evening. If we hadn't have been such restrained people we'd have gone over as a tag team and punched them them all until we were shoulder-deep in their blood and then gone quietly back to our dinner.

Looking back I think we should have done. I'm sure that in court, the waiters would have claimed to have been looking the other way.

I've no comment on Kindle Fires or Chinese lessons but some people are very unpleasant and think they can get away with arch comments without comeback.

squizita Mon 31-Mar-14 08:10:48

Limited yep that's exactly the attitude (and dare I say the type of person who sometimes does it - not classwise but drunk/cocky/group wise) ... it's infuriating! So sorry you had to endure it really!

thebody Mon 31-Mar-14 08:14:13

I ha by explained my parenting choices for years. couldn't give a crap what people think.

thebody Mon 31-Mar-14 08:17:29

that should read 'I havnt' grin

limited love your Boden clad pirates.

LaQueenOfTheSpring Mon 31-Mar-14 08:59:34

My Mum is 73, and it's only very recently that's she's acknowledged that she might possibly be middle aged grin

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