Q. Cheater Cheater Pumpkin Eater: I actually don't see how this person can NOT report on this girl, or at least say, “I have no choice but to turn you in if you don't do it yourself by ______.” Perhaps she even wants to be caught, or was searching for your encouragement to turn herself in, because it was profoundly against her own self-interest to blab to ANYBODY about cheating that resulted in a great prize! She probably cheated in part because she is under a tremendous amount of pressure to please and impress her parents, and now she feels trapped between her guilt and her fear of the repercussions.
A: This is another view. But I think the consequences of pressuring this girl to turn herself in under the threat of the tutor saying she will be reporting her are greater than her crime. I say reiterate to the girl how wrong her behavior was and that living with the guilt will be her punishment.
Q. Stingy Trick-or-Treater: Really? You're going to tell an excited 6-year-old that he can't have candy because his parents took him to a different neighborhood? What are you, border patrol? Please just try to get in the spirit and help a kid enjoy the fun. Soon enough, he'll be a cranky adult who's bean-counting everything in his life.
A: Great point. There are kids who live in neighborhoods where they might not feel safe or where people can't afford bowls of candy. Spend the extra $20 and make some adorable witches happy.
Q. Super Sniffers: I'm currently pregnant, and I've found that carrying strong-tasting chewing gum (like Orbit Bubblemint) can be a lifesaver. Saved me today, in fact, when someone near me passed gas on the train.
A: Good tip. We could use a truckload of Orbit at our house.
Q. My Daughter Is Actually a Boy: I'm 33 weeks pregnant. Being 39, this is my first and last pregnancy. Around four months I was told I was having a girl, and was absolutely ecstatic. I've always wanted a special mother-daughter bond as I had with my own mother, and dreamt of doing all the "girly" things together and having girls' talk. Then last week during a routine ultrasound I was told there had been a mistake and I am actually having a boy. I know I should be grateful for a healthy baby but I feel devastated I'm not having a girl—particularly after many weeks of preparing for a daughter, both in terms of baby things and emotionally. Am I a bad mom for being this upset?
A: Because I had an unspecial mother-daughter bond, I thought when I was pregnant the first and last time at age 39 that it would much better if I had a boy. For some reason I was sure I would. Then I was told I was having a girl. I was embarrassed at how difficult the news was for me. Of course you know that the ending is that having a daughter has been the greatest thing to happen to me. Just as the mothers I know who have boys also feel similarly lucky. And guess what, you have no idea who this little person will turn out to be and what your relationship will be like. I managed to shift emotional gears and get excited about all the fun girly things she and I would do. Then when she was little, every time I tried to play dress up and encourage her to do the same, she would tell me she was not interested in being a princess like her friends, then she'd look at the scarves I'd draped myself with and say, "Mom, take that off, you're scaring me."
Q. My Best Friend Is Criticizing My Grandchild: Meg and I have been best friends for more than a decade. We both have daughters the same age—early 30s—who are friendly, but not best friends. Recently, my daughter had a baby—little Sophy. Meg's daughter has been trying to get pregnant (we don't know for how long). I completely understand that Meg is anxious about her daughter. But now she is constantly making snarky comments about my daughter, her child rearing style, and even about Sophy. "Well, of course, Sophy is a genius," she'll say. Or, "That poor child, she never gets outside." Meg's friendship means a lot to me. And she has never behaved like this before. What should I say or do?
A: Next time she does it, say, "Meg, it hurts me when you make disparaging comments about my daughter and grandchild." It's obvious that the cause is Meg's anxiety about having a grandchild of her own and jealousy that you do, but you don't have to do the psychologizing for her. Just point out simply that what's she saying is painful. Either she will recognize what she's doing and stop, or she will be unable to control her sniping, in which case you have to put some limits on how much time you spend together.
Q. Gas Passing: How does your husband feel about being publicly labeled a chronic, noxious gas passer by his wife?
A: I didn't say who would be chewing the most gum.
Q. Re: My Wife Used To Yawn During Sex, Now She's Texting. Should I Say Something To Her? Don't say anything until she starts eating snacks during sex. I would draw the line there.
A: If she shares her snacks, I think that's okay. I would draw the line at her turning on the Kindle.
Q. Texting: Perhaps the wife is confused about the meaning of sexting!
Emily Yoffe: Thanks everyone. And I hope this year I'll be inundated with cute kids who don't live in the neighborhood and all our candy will be gone. Happy trick-or-treating!
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