Posted: Thursday, April 29, 2010 8:02 pm
Dear Annie: My wife’s 84-year-old mother lives with us. My wife’s cousin, “Erma,” lives two hours away and occasionally sends letters and newspaper clippings to Mom to keep her updated on happenings in the old hometown. Erma is also very punctual with cards on special occasions. Mom reciprocates by calling her often and sending cards of her own.
Recently, Mom lost her only sibling. Two weeks after the funeral, Erma celebrated her birthday. Mom sent a birthday card, but it was a week late. My wife, admittedly not a card person, called Erma to wish her a happy birthday and left a message inviting her to our home for dinner. There was no response.
A few days later, a letter arrived from Erma, saying she was very hurt not to receive a birthday card on time. My wife tried to explain that no one forgot her birthday, but circumstances were difficult and an effort was made to celebrate it later. Erma responded that she “doesn’t believe in late birthday cards,” and that even though she is busy, she always finds time to write to Mom.
Isn’t this a petty and childish way to treat an 84-year-old who just lost a family member? — Shocked Hubby
Dear Shocked: You bet. Erma sounds very self-centered and unable to put herself in someone else’s shoes. She thinks her prompt birthday greetings make her special and, as a result, expects others to put her first, regardless of their circumstances. She can’t help who she is, however, so please let your wife and mother-in-law handle her as they choose. You should stay out of it.
Dear Annie: I’m a 14-year-old girl, and in my group of friends, there is one girl who never talks. “Nicole” sits at our lunch table because she has nowhere else to go.
The problem is, when we don’t invite her to our outings, she starts to cry. We don’t like including her because she’s no fun. I don’t know what to do. We’ve confronted her many times and suggested many solutions, but she always uses the excuse that she’s shy. I’m — Out of Ideas
Dear Out: Talk to your school counselor or a favorite teacher about ways to help Nicole. She obviously has some social issues and has no clue how to behave in a more acceptable manner. She may also have some problems of which you are unaware. Then encourage her to get involved in school activities in which she might have an interest or talent, including athletics, band, chess club or the school paper.
You do not have to include Nicole in everything, but please try to teach her how to be the kind of friend you’d want to have around. It won’t hurt you to be kind, and it means you won’t be sorry later for the way you treated her.
Dear Annie: I love reading your column in our local paper. But I wonder about your response to “Deborah in Los Angeles,” whose friend’s kindergartner uses a potty chair in front of company. You said the friend should train her daughter to use the bathroom, but admitted you had laughed. Why?
A 5-year-old has no business using a potty chair at all, nor should she have been allowed to undress herself in front of guests. Why would any parent encourage this? And the idea that someone would laugh at such an occurrence is strange. I would never be amused by a child that age acting in such a manner. She is not a toddler. She is in kindergarten and obviously knows how to use the restroom. — Michelle in Baton Rouge, La.
Dear Michelle: We are of the opinion that little kids, in general, are pretty funny, and when one is doing something totally outrageous, it is better to laugh than cry. Parents need to find the humor in raising kids. But we agree that it’s time this one used the bathroom.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.29.10