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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: "Annoyed in the Sunshine State" described a meal in an upscale restaurant that was ruined because of disruptive children at a nearby table. She asked what you would have done had you been the manager.

While traveling in Arizona with adult friends, we stopped at an attractive restaurant. After we were seated, we saw the following card, which had been placed on each table in the dining room:

"We ask parents to monitor the conduct of their children while dining with us. We ask that all children remain seated.

"As parents, we fully empathize with teaching your children how to behave at the dinner table. We ask for proper decorum from all of our guests and appreciate parents' cooperation in supervising your children while dining with us."

I counted nine young children in the room. They were all well-behaved and having fun. -- NANCY IN FAIRFIELD, OHIO

DEAR NANCY: I'd say that was a well-run establishment. The management was certainly within its rights to assure the enjoyment of all of the patrons who dined there -- regardless of age. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Let me tell you how the manager of an O'Charley's restaurant handled out-of-control children. Customers were complaining; some were threatening to leave and some were walking out. The family had ordered their food.

The manager walked up to the parents, thanked them for coming in, and explained that other customers were complaining about the noise their children were making. Then he asked them to leave. He had boxed up their dinners and the food was waiting FREE at the door. He had also included complimentary desserts. It was great! The family had to get up and leave because there was nothing they could say. Everybody won. -- PHYLLIS IN WEST CHESTER, OHIO

DEAR PHYLLIS: I'll bet the other patrons applauded and will return again for peaceful dining.

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Annoyed," I just had to write about how a mother admirably handled her toddler's temper tantrum.

I was enjoying a restaurant meal with friends when a child began crying and screaming. A few seconds later, the young mother hurried toward the exit with her squirming, screaming child in her arms. My friends and I, veteran mothers and grandmothers, glanced after her sympathetically.

Several minutes later, the mother returned, leading the now-calm child by the hand. They stopped at each table, and I soon realized that the little boy -- with gentle help from his mother -- was apologizing to the diners for disturbing them. What a lucky child to have a mother who understands that "discipline" means TEACHING. -- IMPRESSED IN THE NORTHWEST

DEAR IMPRESSED: What a lucky child to have a conscientious parent who didn't abdicate responsibility and inflict him on other people.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "The story -- from 'Rumplestiltskin' to 'War and Peace' -- is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind, for the purpose of gaining understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories." -- URSULA K. LE GUIN, 1979

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