I AM the kind of person who finds it hard to keep my tendency to commit faux pas in check at social events.
And it gets exponentially harder now that I have a frisky toddler in tow.
I shudder when I imagine trying to balance a drink and hors d'oeuvres on a plate with one hand, all the while trying to keep a firm grasp on a wriggling kid with the other. Not to mention trying to make small talk with people.
Meanwhile, the child I am trying to keep a hold on is intent on getting away and careering gleefully into champagne-laden waiters. That's my nightmare.
Within minutes, I'd probably be reduced from party-goer to party-pooper: Flustered and exasperated, and coming off at the do as more Medusa than Miss Manners.
That is why I rarely take my 2½-year-old son Julian anywhere posh or formal. And I am often amazed when I see small children at such events.
Recently, at a glamorous watch launch I attended in Beijing, I spotted several guests with babies in their arms. One mum even propped her infant on the bar, oblivious to the thirsty hordes trying to get their alcoholic fix just inches away.
Never mind that the party, complete with raunchy dancers clad only in G-strings and body paint, was definitely not rated G.
I saw a few disdainful glares shot at the woman, and overheard a few guests commenting on how having kids at the event was inappropriate. Then, a friend remarked in a related aside how she hated it when parents took their young ones to couture fashion shows.
I cringed inwardly. Might I also have unwittingly incurred others' wrath for dragging Julian along to such gatherings and upscale venues?
Part of me wanted to defend the offending parents: Perhaps their babysitter couldn't make it at the last minute? Maybe their little ones are really well-behaved and they are truly inseparable? After all, when you're a parent, your child is so much a part of your life that you sometimes don't think about leaving them behind when going out.
Recently, I casually told a dear friend that I was still in two minds about taking Julian to her wedding dinner. It struck me only later that the easy-going bride might have meant to extend the invitation to just my husband and me.
I hadn't considered that maybe the lovely couple did not want small kids mucking up their banquet by crying or screaming at the wrong moments.
As a fellow mum pointed out to me, it's all about give and take.
Swinging singles may feel that kids running around at social functions kills the mood, but a little understanding goes a long way in making everyone feel at ease.
Similarly, mums and dads should show some discretion and common sense in deciding when to leave Junior at home.
And when all else fails, the simple and decent thing to do is this: Just pick up the phone and check with the host if kids are welcome.
Then accept the answer - whatever it may be - with good grace.
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