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by Abigail Van Buren

Comment to Child at Concert Leads to a Vulgar Outburst

DEAR ABBY: I was at a sold-out performance recently, seated next to a family with two young daughters. The youngest daughter had on LED light-up shoes that would flash and blink whenever she stomped her feet.

She quietly watched the first half of the show, but got restless during the second half and began stomping her feet to watch the lights, which was extremely distracting in the dark venue. I gently asked if she would please stop and thanked her when she obliged, just as I would have done if she were my own daughter.

A few minutes later, the family got up and left. On the way out, her father said to me, "About my daughter's shoes? She's (expletive) 4!" in a tone that suggested I should have kept quiet and let her continue doing it. Was I wrong to ask her to stop? The show began at 9:15 p.m. and, while not inappropriate, wasn't geared toward entertaining kids. I'm not surprised she got bored, but her light-up shoes were ruining my experience, and her parents were doing nothing about it. How could I have handled the situation better? -- DISTRACTED IN THE EAST

DEAR DISTRACTED: You did nothing wrong. You couldn't have handled the situation better than you did. The child's father was out of line for using vulgarity, which was uncalled for. Rather than leave the performance, all the parents had to do was keep reinforcing the idea of being considerate to the other audience members -- a lesson that would serve their daughter well in the future.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Family & Parenting | Miscellaneous