There you were, saying goodnight to these darling budding thespians, snug as little bunnies in their nests. Little did you realize they’d be humping like rabbits, too. You have to wonder if at 4 a.m. while everyone was pretending to sleep they were actually all watching Ethan and Marissa go at it. You don’t need my advice about telling your husband. Finding an empty condom wrapper in the basement after the high-school cast party would have me laughing with my husband immediately. Then the thought would dawn on us, “Ah, did our daughter have anything to do with this?” That leads me to think this is a good opening for you, as casually as you can, to tell your son what you found and ask him if he’s sexually active. If he is, tell him it’s great he’s using protection but you’d like to discuss it. After he dismisses you with a nauseated groan, I think you will have done your due diligence. It would be a poor idea to send a mass email to the parents with the subject line, “Empty condom wrapper found.” The theater teacher handed the kids over to you, so you are not obligated to tell him or her about the little drama that took place after the curtain went down.
Several months ago, a dear friend said that he was applying to graduate school in my field and that he was interested in several top schools. I offered to help by looking over his essays. Shortly after beginning to work with him I realized that he had zero chance of admission. He has limited related work experience, his undergraduate grades were low, and his test scores terrible. I convinced him to apply to some less exclusive schools, so the number of essays ballooned. I’ve been shocked at their poor quality, and I’ve been walking him through rewriting every line. The time I’ve spent is overwhelming, and we’re not done. Do I have to keep putting all this effort in, since I said I would? He's unrealistically optimistic, but should I prepare him more for the inevitable rejections? I’m feeling resentful, but I don’t want to damage my friendship.
—No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
You are not doing your friend any favors by being nursemaid for applications to programs he’s unlikely to be accepted to, or that he’ll fail if he does get in. Friends tell friends if they have overwhelming body odor (see letter No. 1) and friends tell friends if they are wasting their time—and yours!—on unproductive plans. Until you got a look at your friend’s writing and academic performance, it sounds like you thought he was a bright and capable person. It’s possible he has an undiagnosed learning disability that he’s been covering up most of his life. (Getting a friend to write his essays is a clue.) You would be doing him a service by telling him the work you’ve done together makes you realize this graduate program is going to be way too big a stretch. Tell him that you think he should get an evaluation from a learning specialist because you think there may be something that’s held back his academic performance. If that ruins your friendship, then that’s a better outcome than your sitting in class taking notes for him.
More Dear Prudence Columns
“A View to a Thrill: Neighbor boys peep at my scantily clad daughters. Should I have them cover up?” Posted June 30, 2011.
“Loving Thy Neighbor: I have sex with the couple next door. Should I tell my kids about it?” Posted June 23, 2011.
“Fatherly Advice: Dear Prudence advises a dad whose wife fears he'll abandon the family in favor of his long-lost daughter—and other Father's Day advice seekers.” Posted June 16, 2011.
“Businessman on the Road to Ruin: My wife doesn't know I visit strip bars and porn theaters while away on business. But that's not cheating, right?” Posted June 9, 2011.
More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
“All Dogs Go to Heaven: Dear Prudence advises a dying husband on whether to confess his infidelity—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted June 27, 2011.
“Sloppy Stay-at-Home Mom: Prudie advises a man whose wife is great at everything except keeping the house neat—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted June 13, 2011.
“The 40-Year-Old Mean Girl: Prudie advises a former bully whose kids are being mistreated by her victim's children—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted June 6, 2011.
“The Accused: A young neighbor's unfounded claims put my family in danger. Should we allow the girl back into our lives?” Posted June 2, 2011.
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