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Miss Manners: Future Grandchild Is Worth A Chilly Reception at Shower

Dear Miss Manners: My son’s ex-wife is pregnant with my grandchild. Their separation has been tense, especially with her family blaming my son for the breakup.

I have been invited to her baby shower, where her mother and family will be. I really don’t feel comfortable attending, knowing how the family has treated my son, but the baby’s mother really wants me there.

Should I go and, if not, how do I get out of it without hurting the baby’s mother’s feelings? If I do go, how do I handle the cool reception her family will give me?

G entle Reader : That the person who will be rearing your grandchild still considers you family is something you want to encourage. Having recommended a cool reception for those who, unlike yourself, have done something wrong, Miss Manners can assure you that, though unpleasant, it is not fatal. And it is nothing compared to being dependent on a judge’s order to see your grandchild.

Dear Miss Manners: A friend returned a wedding RSVP with the “s” on accepts” crossed out. My feeling is that he was very rude. You should not make what you think is a grammar check on a wedding RSVP. Am I correct?

Gentle Reader: This just shows how silly things can get when hosts attempt to supply the responses to their own invitations. (Miss Manners hates response cards, believing that decent people will provide their own answers, and delinquents will still not respond.)

If you were inviting people singly, accepts” would be correct; if your friend was responding as a couple, it should be accept.” Miss Manners’ guess is that it is the opposite, and that therefore you were both wrong.

If not, then your friend was not correcting you; he was simply making his own reply correct, which would be the proper thing to do.

Dear Miss Manners: I am a businessman who frequently flies both domestically and internationally. I also happen to be an insulin-dependent diabetic.

I currently do my glucose testing in my seat. It does involve using a lancet device to get a drop of blood to test, but is fairly unobtrusive. Of course, all lancets, alcohol preps and test strips are stored in my test kit for proper disposal later.

Am I being rude to perform this test next to a stranger? Injections I perform privately in the plane’s lavatory. In the airport, I use the counter by the wash basin, since most water closets have no room for insulin vials and other supplies.

Many people seem to stare and resent the fact of performing such a function in this space. I have also had children ask, What is that man doing? Isn’t that a bad thing?” (They’re obviously thinking of their drug education classes.) Am I too self-conscious?

Gentle Reader: Absent an emergency, medical applications (like bodily functions and grooming) are properly done out of sight — meaning in private or in a restroom — unless they can be done so surreptitiously as to be unrecognizable as such. Miss Manners does not object to a pill taken at dinner, so long as it is not accompanied by a dissertation on your cholesterol.

The technology associated with diabetes is fast approaching this standard, although Miss Manners draws the line at drawing blood. Restrooms exist to provide a proper location for such necessary activities when away from home, and those who use them have no business monitoring the respectable, if sometimes unaesthetic, activities of others.

You may chose to tell children that it is a medical procedure, or ignore them and let their parents do that. Miss Manners would hope that any parents present would also resolve to teach their children to be more discreet with their curiosity.

Dear Miss Manners: What is the proper protocol when speaking with someone who has a stutter? Is it considered helpful or rude to assist him in completing a sentence or question?

Gentle Reader: How can you assist someone in completing his or her statement unless you already know what that person was intending to say? And if you already know what is going to be said, why bother holding a conversation?

So yes, it is considered rude to finish other people’s sentences. And Miss Manners wants it to be clear that this applies not only to stutterers, but to spouses as well.

Dear Miss Manners: I joined a local mothers’ club when my son (now 16 months old) was 3 months old, and formed a new play group with a few other women and their children. We take turns hosting the weekly meeting in our homes and providing lunch for the group.

Sometimes I wonder if I would have made friends with any of these ladies otherwise. We are thrown together because our children are of similar ages, but this fact alone is not enough to overcome all differences.

The other mothers are driving me crazy blaming all of their children’s illnesses on my son. I grew up with allergies, and if I thought every runny/stuffy nose portended illness, I would never leave the house. Also, I have read that exposure to colds at this age helps kids build immunity so they don’t get sick as often when they start going to school. I don’t bring him to the group if he truly seems sick (fever, listlessness, etc.)

I am starting to think that the socialization isn’t worth the stress, and while my child enjoys the meetings, I doubt he would actually miss them at this age, especially if I substituted another interesting activity.

The below note was my husband’s idea:

All: Mike has allergies. Perhaps sometimes he also has mild colds. I say mild, because he doesn’t get fevers, and Dave and I never have any symptoms that point to it being something contagious.

That being said, Mike does go to day care and may pick up things there. He goes to the playroom at the gym and plays with other kids that we know. From what we have read and what our doctor says, we think it is important for young children to get exposed to lots of other kids, as it helps them develop a strong immune system, so we are not going to change.

Mike sleeps about 10 hours a night and only naps after a lot of activity, so he does not seem to be hampered by his regular runny nose. If he had a fever or showed other signs of actually fighting some sort of infection, we would act appropriately.

Obviously, this is not compatible with the play group, so Mike will be dropping out. We don’t want Mike to suffer with sickness and would be upset to see him hurting. The only times he has seemed ill was when he had strep (and we caught that before he had symptoms) and when he was teething, and we stayed out of play group those weeks.”

What do you think? Is there any way I can quit play group while politely letting them know I think they are overreacting?

Gentle Reader: It is an exercise in futility to tell parents not to worry about their children’s health — or what does and does not constitute an overreaction.

Furthermore, Miss Manners observes that your husband’s note shows concern only for your own child and the reasons to keep him home (including teething, which surely is not transmittable), and declares that your attitude toward immunity and communicable diseases is the correct one. Other parents may feel otherwise — and can certainly find doctors and studies to corroborate.

Quitting play group is not a problem; you can merely say your son has other activities. Using the opportunity to chastise the other mothers would be creating a problem.

Miss Manners is written by Judith Martin, her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. You are invited to email your etiquette questions from www.missmanners.com, if you promise to use the black or blue-black ink you’ll save by writing those thank you, condolence and congratulations letters you owe.